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 today unveiled the culmination of an ambitious, 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 easily in one convenient place and on one website a treasure-trove of interesting 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-its-kind 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. Mr. 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.