Congress in the Archives will feature monthly staff posts on our blog. Today’s post comes from Kate Mollan.
Did you know that the Center for Legislative Archives occasionally plays a role in movie-making? Back in September 2011, I received a telephone call from a film producer with the Kennedy/Marshall Company in Santa Monica. He explained that he was looking for a high quality digital scan of the vote taken in the House of Representatives on the 13th amendment to abolish slavery. The House had initially rejected the legislation proposing the amendment but on January 31, 1865 they passed it with a vote of 119 to 56. The producer also wanted to know the exact role of the tally clerk during the vote, whether the vote was recorded in a bound volume or on loose ledger forms which were subsequently bound, what the dimensions of the recorded vote were, and other precise details. He explained that the information and the digital scan that I provided to him would be the basis for recreating that historic vote for a film about Abraham Lincoln. I was impressed by the exacting level of authenticity the filmmakers wished to achieve.
The film is, of course, “Lincoln,” produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, and stars Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field. It is now in movie theaters across the country.
Tally sheet, 1/31/1865, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives