Skip to main content

Background Image for Header:

America Contacts Congress Project

America Contacts Congress: Providing Access to U.S. Congressional Correspondence Data

Project Summary

The  America Contacts Congress project, made possible by a  LYRASIS Catalyst Fund grant, will assess the open-source tool for managing congressional constituent data developed at West Virginia University Libraries, engage the library community and potential users in defining technical requirements for processing and accessing data, and create a road map for developing a cooperative infrastructure.

The project concludes on 2019 June 1.

The advisory board is composed of persons with expertise in congressional papers management and research, largely drawn from the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress and Society of American Archivists' Congressional Papers Section. Members do not represent their institution but rather use their background and experience to inform the board's efforts to work for the good of the project and the community it is to benefit. Members are:

  • Danielle Emerling (West Virginia University, Assistant Curator, Congressional and Political Papers Archivist), Chair and Project Director
  • Brandon Pieczko (University of Georgia, Processing and Digital Archivist, Russell Library)
  • Alison White (Senate Historical Office, Deputy Senate Archivist for Digital Archives)
  • Hope Bibens (Drake University, Political Papers Archivist)
  • Nathan Gerth (University of Nevada Reno, Digital Archivist)
  • John Caldwell (University of Delaware, Political Papers Archivist)
  • Natalie Bond (University of Montana, Political Papers Archivist)
  • Jodi Allison-Bunnell (AB Consulting) (ex officio)


Phase I: Assess Existing Functionality (2018 October-December)

Initial meeting at WVU with congressional papers archivist and systems development department

  • Consultant will discuss and document potential future functionality, including inherent limitations of the data and systems
  • Consultant identifies end users to focus on and desired functionality/technical requirements of the congressional papers community by facilitating sessions with the following groups:
  1. One or more virtual meetings with SAA’s Congressional Papers Section and with contacts from the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress
  • Full project plan and detailed timeline approved by Congressional papers archivist
  • Description of existing and potential future functionality
Read the Phase I report.

Phase II: Develop User Requirements and Characterize Feasibility (2018 December-2019 March)

This phase includes parallel work on data testing and testing preliminary ideas about users through focus groups and interviews.

Data testing: 2018 December through 2019 February

  • The data testing plan is described in the previous section
  • For the data testing instructions and reporting form, see Phase I report, Appendix B
  • Testers will report results no later than February 28, 2019.

Focus groups and interviews: 2019 January-February

  • User testing is described in the Phase I report.
  • Results will be summarized no later than February 28, 2019.

Read the Phase II report.

Phase III: Justification and Roadmap (2019 February-April)

This phase takes the work of the previous two phases to characterize the uses of and need for further development of the tool, creates a development roadmap, and identifies potential options for medium- to long-term administration and sustainability. The Advisory Board will continue to meet regularly to advise on how we characterize the tool and strategize development.

Development Roadmap: 2019 February-April

Work begins with Focus Group 2 (IT/Systems) in early February and identifies potential options.

Administration Roadmap: 2019 February-April

This begins with the uses of and need for the tool and its further development, then identifies how it could be administered and sustained.

Read the Phase III report.

Final Presentation and Discussion (2019 May 1-15)

In this final phase, the consultant will present the Phase III report to the advisory board and other audiences (including, but not limited to, SAA’s Congressional Papers Section, and contacts from the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress). The final presentation will take place on Tuesday, May 14 at 1 p.m. EST. 

View the final webinar presentation.