In recognition of the 400th anniversary of the first meeting of elected members of the House Burgesses in Jamestown, the House Clerk’s Office on Jan. 3 unveiled the culmination of an ambitious, multi-year project – DOME, or Database of House Members – that offers biographical and legislative service information on every House member since the first burgesses convened in July 1619.
Now available in one convenient place is a treasure-trove of interesting data chronicling the 9,700-plus men and women who served as burgesses or delegates in the Virginia General Assembly over the past four centuries.
The first-of-its-kind compilation is an introduction to and a 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,” House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, said. “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 new DOME website is a reference to the 30-foot dome masked under the gable roof within the rotunda of Thomas Jefferson’s Capitol.
DOME is organized into four categories: burgesses and delegates; speakers and clerks; legislative sessions and committees; and state capitol locations.
Searchable features include last names, session years, and localities or districts represented by
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, continuing with 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.
Because of the vast amount of potential information for many historical figures and sparseness of detail available for others, the new searchable website contains a feedback mechanism (through email) which encourages user interaction.
DOME is available for preview at 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 or after the conclusion of the 2019 regular session.