The National Coalition of History (NCH), to which the Organization of American Historians belongs, has been working with members of Congress over the past two years to create a forum on Capitol Hill where representatives can share their interest in history and promote historical awareness. The result of these efforts was the creation of the Congressional History Caucus in the House of Representatives. Co-chaired by representatives from both sides of the aisle, Congressmen John Larson (D-CT), Tom Cole (R-OK), Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), the Congressional History Caucus currently has sixteen members. We need to work to raise that number to increase awareness and visibility of history, especially when issues of funding and policy arise.
The NCH is urging all historians to reach out to their representatives and ask that they become members of the Congressional History Caucus. Whether you call or write, make your voice heard! If you don’t know who your representatives are, find them at www.house.gov/. Contact your representatives via e-mail through their individual web sites, or by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. The Caucus even put together a welcome letter template that you can use for your request.
Let your representatives know that becoming a member of the Caucus is easy—they must simply contact Rep. John Larson’s office at (202) 225-2265.
Initial activities planned by the Congressional History Caucus leadership include:
- Lectures by prominent historians and policy makers to provide historical context and perspective on current and past issues;
- Promoting on the Hill about events and exhibits at the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Archives, and other historical institutions in Washington;
- Establishing relationships between members of Congress and historians, the Architect of the Capitol, former members of Congress, and historical institutions and history departments at academic institutions in their districts;
- Programming geared towards history both on Capitol Hill and among their constituents, especially students; and
- An annual award to be presented by the Congressional History Caucus to an outstanding advocate for preservation of the past.
Members of Congress are unlikely to join the History Caucus unless they are asked to do so by their constituents! Please help NCH and its consortium of over 50 member organizations in this effort. Seek out the support of your representatives to create a strong and vibrant History Caucus.