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date: 16 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In the wake of the Watergate scandal, the historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. urged the leaders of the U.S. Senate to do more about opening the records of the legislative branch. His appeal led to the creation of the Senate Historical Office in 1975 and indirectly in 1983 to its counterpart in the House of Representatives. The two legislative bodies differ greatly in structure and traditions, and their separate historical offices have also evolved differently, although they share a common mission in serving members, staff, researchers, reporters, and the general public. Their efforts demonstrate how public historians can function within highly political institutions, providing objective and nonpartisan historical information.

Keywords: archives, bicentennial, collective memory, legislative process, oral history, research and reference, public history

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