Va. House of Del­e­gates un­veils DOME

New, first-of-its-kind, search­able web­site of House mem­bers will be of­fi­cially re­leased in spring

The Progress-Index Weekend - - LOCAL -

In recog­ni­tion of the 400th an­niver­sary in 2019 of the first meet­ing of elected mem­bers of the House Burgesses in Jamestown, the House Clerk’s Of­fice has un­veiled the cul­mi­na­tion of a multi-year project – DOME (Data­base of House Mem­bers) – that of­fers on­line both bi­o­graph­i­cal and leg­isla­tive ser­vice in­for­ma­tion on ev­ery House mem­ber since the first Burgesses con­vened in July 1619. Now, the pub­lic, his­to­ri­ans, de­scen­dants, re­searchers and stu­dents of all ages can find in one con­ve­nient place and on one web­site a trea­sure-trove of data chron­i­cling the 9,700+ men and women who have served as Burgesses or Del­e­gates elected to the Vir­ginia Gen­eral Assem­bly over the past four cen­turies through this mile­stone year. This new, first-of-its kind com­pi­la­tion of the mem­bers of the House of Burgesses and House of Del­e­gates is an in­tro­duc­tion to and ready ref­er­ence guide for the ori­gins of the first and old­est con­tin­u­ously elected English-speak­ing law­mak­ing body in the West­ern Hemi­sphere.

“Vir­ginia has long been rec­og­nized as the birth­place of Amer­ica,” said House of Del­e­gates Speaker, Kirk Cox, R-Colo­nial Heights. “Lead­ers of our Com­mon­wealth were the founders of the United States’ on­go­ing ex­per­i­ment in rep­re­sen­ta­tive self-gov­ern­ment, a topic I rel­ished shar­ing with my stu­dents for 30 years as a high school civics ed­u­ca­tion teacher. Since the story of Amer­i­can democ­racy be­gan in Vir­ginia and en­dures even now in 2019 with cit­i­zen-law­mak­ers con­tin­u­ing to serve our Com­mon­wealth, I’m de­lighted to join with the ded­i­cated team of tal­ented pro­fes­sion­als who are the House Clerk’s of­fice in mak­ing this timely, in­no­va­tive ed­u­ca­tional re­source ac­ces­si­ble to the pub­lic. I es­pe­cially want to rec­og­nize and con­grat­u­late our cre­ative and hard-work­ing House Clerk, Paul Nardo, for his vi­sion and drive to make this re­mark­able project a re­al­ity. Do­ing so en­hances the on­go­ing his­tory and mak­ing of this vi­brant in­sti­tu­tion.”

The House Clerk’s Of­fice has named this new web­site DOME - Data­base of House Mem­bers, a ref­er­ence to the 30-foot dome masked un­der the gable roof within the Ro­tunda of Mr. Jef­fer­son’s Capi­tol.

DOME is or­ga­nized into four cat­e­gories – 1) Burgesses and Del­e­gates; 2) Speak­ers and Clerks; 3) Leg­isla­tive Ses­sions and Com­mit­tees; and 4) State Capi­tol Lo­ca­tions. The first and sec­ond cat­e­gories of­fer a wide ar­ray of per­sonal, leg­isla­tive and his­tor­i­cal in­for­ma­tion on cur­rent and for­mer House mem­bers as well as the in­sti­tu­tion’s chief pre­sid­ing of­fi­cers (Speak­ers) and the body’s chief ad­min­is­tra­tors (Clerks). Search­able fea­tures in­clude last names, ses­sion years, and lo­cal­i­ties or dis­tricts rep­re­sented by mem­ber as well as such fur­ther de­tails as an in­di­vid­ual mem­ber’s years of ser­vice. The third cat­e­gory pro­vides a chronol­ogy of leg­isla­tive floor ses­sions over 400 years and lists lead­er­ship roles of mem­bers and their com­mit­tee as­sign­ments. The fourth cat­e­gory de­scribes the var­i­ous meet­ing lo­ca­tions at which the body has as­sem­bled, be­gin­ning with the church at His­toric Jamestowne Is­land, through the Colo­nial Capi­tol in Wil­liams­burg and end­ing at the present seat of gov­ern­ment since 1788 atop Shockoe Hill in Rich­mond.

“De­vel­op­ing, or­ga­niz­ing and main­tain­ing on­line in one place a more trans­par­ent and easy to ac­cess reg­istry of in­di­vid­ual mem­bers and over­all his­tory of this vi­tal in­sti­tu­tion that I’m hon­ored to serve and gen­uinely love has been a high pri­or­ity for me since I was first elected in 2011,” said G. Paul Nardo, clerk of the Vir­ginia House of Del­e­gates. “My many out­stand­ing col­leagues and I in the House Clerk’s Of­fice hope and trust DOME will be a valu­able new tool for any­one search­ing to learn more about and bet­ter un­der­stand Vir­ginia his­tory from a leg­isla­tive per­spec­tive. It shares the out­lines and sto­ries of Vir­ginia lead­ers in­spired to seek and take an ac­tive role in shap­ing the course of the Com­mon­wealth’s past, present and fu­ture. Launch­ing DOME at the start of the 400th an­niver­sary of the Vir­ginia Gen­eral Assem­bly (1619-2019) not only is apt but in keep­ing with the House Clerk’s Of­fice long tra­di­tion of and well- de­served rep­u­ta­tion for pro­vid­ing de­pend­able, high-qual­ity ser­vices in a very timely and cus­tomer- friendly man­ner. I in­vite ev­ery­one to check out DOME and wel­come the pub­lic’s con­tri­bu­tions to help writ­ing the on­go­ing his­tory of the House of Del­e­gates and those who have been elected to serve in it.” The House Clerk’s Of­fice rec­og­nizes and thanks all whose in­ter­ests, in­quiries, prior re­search and other con­tri­bu­tions large and small have made this first-of-it­skind in­ter­ac­tive web­site and search­able Data­base of House Mem­bers pos­si­ble.

Be­cause of the vast amount of po­ten­tial in­for­ma­tion for many his­tor­i­cal fig­ures and yet sparse­ness of de­tail avail­able for oth­ers, the new search­able web­site con­tains a feed­back mech­a­nism (via email) which en­cour­ages user in­ter­ac­tion. DOME is de­signed as a liv­ing re­search tool and those with ad­di­tional ver­i­fi­able in­for­ma­tion are en­cour­aged to share what they may know from their own re­search or fam­ily archives. Nardo and the House Clerk’s Of­fice staff an­tic­i­pate build­ing on the solid foun­da­tion of ex­ist­ing data cur­rently en­tered and in­creas­ing over time that wealth of in­for­ma­tion about all mem­bers and the vi­brant, dy­namic, in­creas­ingly di­verse and re­mark­ably durable in­sti­tu­tion that is to­day’s Vir­ginia House of Del­e­gates.

DOME is avail­able for pre­view at https://his­tory.house. vir­ginia.gov. Work is still un­der­way to im­prove func­tion­al­ity on mo­bile de­vices, ex­pand con­tent and en­hance over­all nav­i­ga­tion. The of­fi­cial fi­nal re­lease of DOME will take place later in spring 2019 or af­ter the con­clu­sion of the 2019 Reg­u­lar Ses­sion.

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