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Historian of the United States House of Representatives: Wikis

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The Historian of the United States House of Representatives is an official appointed by the United States House of Representatives to study and document its past. The current Historian is Robert V. Remini, a prominent National Book Award-winning historian, expert on Andrew Jackson, and professor of history emeritus and research professor of humanities emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago, appointed April 28, 2005.

The post was first created in 1983 and its first holder was University of Maryland, College Park historian Ray Smock. In a move that was seen by many as politically motivated, Smock was fired by House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1995 when the Republican Party took control of the House. Gingrich appointed Christina Jeffrey, a political scientist from Kennesaw State University, to the post in January 1995. However, a controversy arose over comments Jeffrey had made in 1986, while evaluating a program called Facing History and Ourselves[1] for the US Department of Education. She wrote "The program gives no evidence of balance or objectivity. The Nazi point of view, however unpopular, is still a point of view and is not presented, nor is that of the Ku Klux Klan." Democrats and Jewish groups expressed outrage at the comments, but Jeffrey stated that the allegations against her were "slanderous and outrageous." Nonetheless, Gingrich dismissed Jeffrey a few days after she took up the post. After meeting with her several months after her dismissal, the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham H. Foxman, wrote that the ADL was "satisfied that any characterization of you as anti-Semitic or sympathetic to Nazism is entirely unfounded and unfair."[2]

The post was vacant for the next decade until House Speaker Dennis Hastert,a former high school history teacher, appointed Remini. Shortly after his appointment, Remini hired fellow UIC Professor Fred Beuttler as Deputy Historian of the House. Remini and Beuttler are assisted by an office director and a research analyst.

Prior to his appointment as Historian of the House, Remini was commissioned by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington to write the first comprehensive narrative history of the House of Representatives for the general reader, as provided by the House Awareness and Preservation Act of 1999 (P.L. 106-99). The Librarian also appointed Remini as the Distinguished Visiting Scholar of American History in the Library's Kluge Center so that he could research and write the book at the Library. The Society for History in the Federal Government awarded Remini's "The House: The History of the House of Representatives" its George Pendleton Prize given for an outstanding major publication on the federal government's history produced by or for a federal history program. The Pendleton Prize commemorates Ohio Senator George H. Pendleton, sponsor of the 1883 civil service reform act that bears his name.

List of House Historians

  1. Ray Smock, 1983 - 1995
  2. Christina Jeffrey, 1995
  3. Robert V. Remini, 2005 - present

References

  1. ^ Facing History and Ourselves
  2. ^ Abraham H. Foxman, National Director (1995-08-22). letter to Christina Jeffrey. Anti-Defamation League. http://www.ngcsu.edu/bdf/bfried/cjeff.htm. Retrieved 2006-12-02.  
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