The Dirksen Center's History

  • The Dirksen Congressional Center and the Pekin Public Library agree to build a new facility

  • The Center's exhibit hall opens to nearly 4,000 visitors in its first year

  • A group of community-minded women and men forms The Dirksen Center Guild to support The Center's educational and exhibit programs

  • The Center receives an endowment grant of $2.5 million from the U.S. Congress, and over $100,000 from private foundations for program expansion

  • The Center sponsors the first national conference on congressional leadership, resulting in Understanding Congressional Leadership: The State of the Art (Congressional Quarterly Press, 1982)

  • The Center awards its first Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for Distinguished Reporting of Congress

  • The newly renovated exhibit, "Congress: The Voice of the People" opens

  • The Center joins with the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to sponsor the Congressional Papers Conference in Harpers Ferry

  • The Ford Foundation awards $150,000 to The Center for a long-term study of congressional leadership

  • Robert H. Michel designates The Center as the repository for his congressional papers

    The Center awards its 100th Congressional Research Grant

  • Former Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield receives The Center's first Award for Meritorious Service to Congress

    Congressional Quarterly Press publishes Leading Congress: New Styles, New Strategies, a book commissioned by The Center

  • Congressional Quarterly Press publishes First Among Equals: Outstanding Leaders of the 20th Century, a book commissioned by The Center

  • The first "Congress in the Classroom" summer workshop for teachers is hosted by The Center, in cooperation with Bradley University

  • The Congress, through the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, awards The Center a $2 million, four-year grant for the Robert H. and Corinne Michel Congressional Education Fund

  • "Leaders of the House Over Two Centuries," a conference sponsored by The Center, takes place in Washington, DC

  • The centennial observance of Everett Dirksen's birth leads to a renovated exhibit space now called the Robert H. Michel Civics Forum

    CongressLink, a Web site for teachers, is launched, beginning a long-term investment in educational applications of emerging technology

  • Westview Press publishes Masters of the House: Congressional Leaders Over Two Centuries, a book commissioned by The Center

    The University Of Illinois Press publishes The Education of a Senator: Everett McKinley Dirksen, Everett Dirksen's personal account of his life told through anecdotes, observations, and lessons learned

  • The Robert H. Michel Civic Education Grants, a new program designed to assist teachers, makes eight awards.

    Westview Press publishes Congress and the Decline of Public Trust, a book of essays commissioned by The Center

    The Center begins to explore the possibility of building its own facility and separating from the Pekin Public Library

  • The Center co-sponsors a conference with Yale University and the University of Colorado, "The Macro-Politics of Congress"

  • The Center breaks ground for its new building on October 24

  • On September 26 and 28, The Center holds grand opening events for its new building at 2815 Broadway

    Congressman Ray LaHood announces his decision to donate his papers to The Center

  • The Center establishes the Ray LaHood Scholarships for the Study of American Government and awarded two in 2004.

    The Center is a founding member of the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress, a group of more than 40 institutions seeking to improve access to historical materials and to conduct public programs to enhance the appreciation of Congress

  • The Center completes the Civil Rights Documentation Project

  • The Center publishes The Long Hard Furrow: Everett Dirksen’s Part in the Civil Rights Act of 1964

  • The Center joins with Bradley University to establish the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service

    The Center publishes Campaign 1944: Everett Dirksen’s Bid for the White House

  • The Center publishes Facing the Post-War World: Everett M. Dirksen Abroad, 1945

    The Center receives major portions of the Ray LaHood Papers

  • The Center joins with IPL and the Bipartisan Public Policy Center in Washington DC to sponsor a breakfast promoting civility for new Congress members

  • The Center holds the 20th Congress in the Classroom® workshop for social studies teachers

    The Center publishes Of Fakers, Flip-Floppers, Bunglers, and Cowards: Everett Dirksen’s Campaign for the U.S. Senate, 1950

  • Version 2.0 of the Congressional Timeline appears on The Center’s Web suite.

    This special project arrays more than 900 of the nation's laws on a timeline beginning with the first Congress in 1789 and continuing to the present.

  • 50th anniversary of The Center receiving its charter

    Ray LaHood and Frank Mackaman sign a contract with Cambria Press to publish Ray LaHood’s memoir, Seeking Bipartisanship: My Life in Politics

  • Center cosponsors with the Institute for Principled Leadership "Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Historic Civil Rights Act of 1964"

  • Congressman Aaron Schock designates The Center as the repository for his papers

    A nine-member National Advisory Council is formed

    Reception and book-signing at Center for Ray LaHood’s Seeking Bipartisanship: My Life in Politics

  • Congressional Research Grants program surpasses $1,000,000 awarded via the Congressional Research Grants, 1978-2016

    Center cosponsors with IPL “Returning Civility to Public Discourse"

    Darin LaHood designates The Center as the repository for his papers

    Center launches the Robert H. Michel Retrospective to produce a book documenting Michel's contribution to congressional history

  • Robert H. Michel dies in Washington DC on February 17

    Center receives $20,000 grant from the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress for the Michel Retrospective

    Center cosponsors with IPL “Restoring America’s Democracy: Inspiring a New Generation of Civic Engagement”

    The University Press of Kansas agrees to publish Robert H. Michel: Leading the Republican House Minority

    Board of Directors approves the “Dirksen Congressional Center Partnership Initiative”

  • The Board of Directors approves the "Dirksen Center Partnership Initiative" to invest in the programs of like-minded organizations

  • Tiffany White selected to replace Frank Mackaman as Executive Director. Mackaman continues as Historian.