A Century of Lawmaking, Congress.gov and Constitution Day: Three Great Resources that Work Well Together

Image of one of the founding fathers signing the constitution

The Foundations of American Government. Henry Hintermeister, 1925

September 17 is Constitution Day, celebrating the day in 1787 when members of the Constitutional Convention signed the final draft of the U.S. Constitution. Teaching with the Library of Congress normally marks this day by discussing a specific aspect of constitutional history or providing information on resources relating to the Constitution. In today’s blog post, we want to acknowledge changes to an important resource that can be used to study the history of the U.S. Congress, A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation.

A Century of Lawmaking was one of the first Library of Congress collections to be made available online, on what was then called American Memory. It provided access to historical materials that documented the daily activities of Congress covering the years prior to the American Revolution up to the late 1800’s. This website was very popular with historians, lawyers, and others interested in studying the workings of Congress. Later the records of the Congress of the Confederacy and the Native American land cessions were added, as well as features on the Electoral College, the impeachment of Andrew Johnson and select other topics.

But the Library is now transferring these materials to an updated display. The first part of the move has been completed and bills and resolutions documenting congressional activities covering the years 1799 to 1873 have been moved to Congress.gov. This blog post offers more information. Over time, additional material from a Century of Lawmaking will move either to Congress.gov or the Law Library of Congress website. You can keep on the latest changes through the @TeachingLC, @LawLibCongress, and @Congressdotgov Twitter feeds.

To learn more about the Constitution, explore resources on Congress.gov about the founding documents of the United States, including the Constitution Annotated, or the exhibition Creating the United States.

How will you acknowledge this important day in the history of the U.S. with your students?

Teaching Civic Ideals Using Primary Sources: The Origin and Evolution of the Bill of Rights

Many Americans take for granted the guarantees of the Bill of Rights. However, the story and order of the initially proposed twelve amendments submitted to states for ratification offer an interesting case study for students to analyze and discuss why certain rights were included as a protection against federal encroachment upon citizens’ freedom and how they apply to us today.

Encouraging Student Understanding of Negotiation and the Value of Notetaking during the 1787 Constitutional Convention

In the September 2019 issue of Social Education, the journal of the National Council for the Social Studies, our “Sources and Strategies” article featured two pages from James Madison’s Original Notes on Debates at the Federal Constitutional Convention which described the events of Monday, June 18, 1787.

“A Republic, If You Can Keep It”

In anticipation of Constitution Day, our “Sources and Strategies” article in the September 2016 issue of Social Education, the journal of the National Council for the Social Studies, suggested provoking student interest in civic responsibility with an 18th century diary entry. The featured entry was that of James McHenry, written on September 18, 1787.