Call to Action #7: Speaking up for History and Archives: The Congressional History Caucus

When we want to advocate for archives in Congress, it will certainly help if our Representatives are aware of archives and why they are important.   So here’s an opportunity to reach out to your member of Congress and ask him or her to join the Congressional History Caucus.  This is not hard--you can do it!   Don’t count on someone else writing—because they may be waiting for you to do it instead.   So please, read the information below and then contact your member of Congress.

The key to success on Capitol Hill is having relationships in place before they are needed.  That’s why the National Coalition for History (of which SAA is a Policy Board member) has worked for two years to promote the formation of a Congressional History Caucus. 

Four Congressmen – John Larson (D-CT), Tom Cole (R-OK), Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) – have agreed to co-chair a Congressional History Caucus and on March 30 they circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter soliciting members of Congress to join them in this effort in 2015.  The caucus provides a forum for members of Congress to share their interest in history and to promote awareness of the subject on Capitol Hill.  It also provides an opportunity for the history (and archives) community to serve as a resource to Congress.

It is important for our community to build lasting relationships between members of Congress and archivists, historians, teachers, students, researchers, genealogists, and other stakeholders in their districts.  The History Caucus will increase our visibility and provide a network of supporters in Congress to whom we can reach out when issues arise.


Here’s what you can do in April to help!

Please help us by reaching out to your representative to seek her or his support in creating a strong and vibrant History Caucus. If constituents ask, members often listen—so we need to ask.  We’re not asking for federal funding or a policy change, so you’re more likely to get a positive response if you take the time to make the request.

The National Coalition for History’s website includes step-by-step instructions for contacting your representative to ask her or him to join the History Caucus.

Contact your representative using one of the following options:

  1. Send a message.  Go to the House website at The system allows you to search for your representative by ZIP code, taking you to a link to her/his website and contact information.  Congressional offices allow you to send an email via the home page if you are from the district.  Urge your Congressperson to contact Congressman John Larson’s office at 202-225-2265 to join the Caucus.  Be sure to add a link to the 2015 Congressional History Caucus Dear Colleague letter in your email message.
  1. Make a phone call.  All members of Congress can be reached via the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. A personal phone call is preferable to an email – but do what you feel comfortable doing. Urge your Congressperson to contact Congressman John Larson’s office at 202-225-2265 to join the Caucus.  If you speak to a staff member, be sure to get his/her name and email address so that you can forward a copy of the 2015 Dear Colleague letter.

Whichever communication option you choose, please personalize your message by citing your background or explaining your connection to history.  Mention the institution in which you work or study in your congressional district.  Refer to the Dear Colleague letter for talking points.

Once you’ve contacted your Member of Congress, tell us (at whom you’ve contacted and how it went.  Has your Congressperson agreed to sign on?