At a Glance


Learn about the inner workings of Congress and several major historical topics.

Frank H. Mackaman, Dirksen Congressional Center


Logo, The Dirksen Congressional Center

Designed to provide students and teachers with basic information on the workings of Congress and selected materials on a limited number of historical topics. Contains searchable listings for current legislation and members of Congress, and elementary explanations of how bills become laws and what members of Congress do.

Lists names of Congressional leaders since 1920 and pay rates since 1789. A useful glossary succinctly defines hundreds of political terms, from "Blue Dog Democrat" to "Political Action Committee."

Provides historical presentations using primary documents on six topics—the Compromise of 1850; problems of representation at the Constitutional Convention; eulogy and obituary as historical evidence; issues in creating a timeline of the Senate's history; how the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law; and lessons to be learned from the Roman republic.

Includes nine "expert views"—ranging from 1,200 to 7,500 words in length—on civics-related topics; 40 lesson plans; and links to 17 sites.

Updated daily. A useful, if select, aid to understanding the functioning of Congress.