The Pennsylvania House of Representatives Archives collects, preserves and provides access to the permanently valuable historic records created by Representatives, Committees, Offices and Staff in order to promote understanding of the history of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and its impact on Pennsylvania's citizens today.
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives Archives was created in 1978 by House Rule 48 in order to collect and preserve the archival material documenting the House's operations and legislative history. From 1978 to present, Chairmen of Standing Committees and Select and Special Committees and task forces are required to deposit the Committee's work at the end of every two-year session. The committee records must include attendance records, voting records, public hearing transcripts and House Blue Backs. Some Chairmen provide much more information, resulting in collections with detailed views into the work of the Committee, the issues at hand and the ways in which the issues were addressed and resolved.
Over the years, the interest in and recognition of the need to preserve the House's history has grown and as a result, the House Archives now also collects material from the Calendar and Amendment Room and offices such as the Chief Clerk, the Parliamentarian, the Speaker's Special Events and the Official Reporter.
In 2004, the House Archives commenced the Oral History Project to capture the memories, legislative intent and personal experiences of former Representatives. This outstanding program has produced more than 90 interviews providing an enlightening view into numerous aspects of the job of the Representative including the reasons for becoming involved in politics generally and the House specifically, campaigning, driving forces for introducing specific legislation, traditions and camaraderie amongst the Representatives, the often frustrating legislative battles on the House Floor and in Committees, to the intense satisfaction in helping constituents and seeing a necessary bill enacted into law.
A positive side effect of the Oral History project has been the increased donation of personal papers collections. In 2009, more than 75 former Representatives have donated their collections allowing researchers to see another side of the House of Representatives. Democrat or Republican, female or male, conservative or liberal, these Representatives' beliefs, missions and goals are supported by archival record. Often, these collections contain the background research which formed and shaped their legislative positions and, more than any description of the job of Representatives, shows the types of work, the amount of work, and the determination required of a good elected official to succeed, sometimes after years of promoting their legislation.
With a newly created non-lending library, the House Archives serves as a comprehensive research resource with personal descriptions (oral histories and personal papers), committee records, public hearing transcripts, official reports, and office records providing glimpses into almost all facets of the workings of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.