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Explore Congressional Reactions to Historic Events on

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The team has received feedback requesting that we add content from prior congresses to the Congressional Record and public law text collections. We are pleased to announce that we have made substantial progress on this request. The Bound Congressional Record collection now goes back to the 82nd Congress (1951-1953) and the full text of public laws now dates back to the 93rd Congress (1973-1975).

This content is not only useful for those who need the full text of public laws and debates of Congress from these periods; it also allows you to pick a historic event and research the congressional reactions to it. For example, you might want to research the congressional reaction to the launch of the first satellite into space in 1957, the Soviet’s satellite known as Sputnik.

A group of people gathered around the Sputnik III satellite model on display at an exhibit in the USSR in 1959.
U.S.S.R, Moscow, temporary Russian exhibit. Photograph shows people walking by a model of Sputnik III at the USSR Exhibition in Sokolniki Park, Moscow, next to the American National Exhibition. 1959. Photograph by Thomas J. O’Halloran. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

I typed in my search, “Sputnik,” into the global search box, selected “Congressional Record” from the drop-down menu, and on the results screen, and used the “Congress” filter to narrow down my results to the 85th Congress (which includes 1957). The first session of the 85th Congress ended in August of 1957, but you will find a variety of reactions to Sputnik when Congress convened for the second session of the 85th Congress in January of 1958.

Below, you will find an excerpt of one reaction from the Extension of Remarks section of the Congressional Record. On January 8, 1958, Rep. Tuck entered Senator Byrd’s December 5, 1957, speech to the National Association of Manufacturers at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel into the Extension of Remarks. Senator Byrd’s speech addressed Sputnik and his opinion on its implications for the United States. You can research other reactions by members of Congress by exploring these search results.

A newspaper article with an excerpt from a speech by Senator Byrd in reaction to the Soviet Union's launch of the satellite Sputnik
An excerpt from a speech by Senator Byrd in reaction to the Soviet Union’s launch of the satellite Sputnik. This speech was entered into the Congressional Record’s Extension of Remarks section by Representative Tuck. 104 Cong. Rec. 1958. 

Have you explored the historical collections on Let us know what you have found in the comments.

Comments (2)

  1. Fascinating information and resource that I will share with our patrons and especially, teachers.

  2. Bravo. Pairing the legal instruments (legislation & remarks) with events in time through photographs is a cool powerful & persuasive visual tool for researchers to talk a walk down memory lane.

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