New database holds 400 years worth of information on members of Virginia’s legislature

The Virginia House of Delegates met Thursday to discuss redistricting, but didn't get far. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury - Aug. 30, 2018)
The Virginia House of Delegates. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury - Aug. 30, 2018)

A working database of Virginia legislators from the Jamestown settlement to the present day is almost complete, just in time for the 400th anniversary of the first meeting of the House Burgesses.

The House Clerk’s Office has finished the bulk of the multi-year project that traces members, leaders, committees and locations of the lower chamber of Virginia’s state legislature since its inception in 1619 in Jamestown.

The Database of House Members — called DOME after the dome in the rotunda of Thomas Jefferson’s Capitol design —  was one of House Clerk Paul Nardo’s top priorities when he was elected in 2011.

“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,” Nardo said in a statement.

Nardo and his team weren’t able to track down the same amount of information for every former member, so the project includes a feedback tool for people to submit research or other verifiable information to be added to the database.

A complete version of the site should be available by the spring.

“Virginia has long been recognized as the birthplace of America,” said Speaker of the House 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.”

 

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Mechelle Hankerson
Mechelle, born and raised in Virginia Beach, is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in mass communications and a concentration in print journalism. She covered the General Assembly for the university’s Capital News Service and was among 12 student journalists in swing states selected by the Washington Post to cover the 2012 presidential election. For the past five years, she has covered local government, crime, housing, infrastructure and other issues at the Raleigh News & Observer and The Virginian-Pilot, where she most recently covered the state’s biggest city, Virginia Beach.