Wendy Schiller, Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Brown University, will give a talk about the forthcoming book she co-authored with Charles Stewart III of MIT: Electing the Senate: Indirect Democracy before the 17th Amendment on Thursday, April 24 at 5:30 p.m. in the Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab located on the first floor of the Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street. This event is free and open to the public.
Schiller will discuss the process and politics surrounding the election of U.S. Senators in state legislatures before the adoption of direct elections in 1913. Conventional wisdom suggests that this process was so dominated by political party machine bosses and bribery that the outcomes were determined long before the actual balloting began. In their book, Schiller and Stewart debunk these myths and show how the process actually worked across all states between 1871-1913. They found that elite competition and party factionalism dominated the election of U.S. Senators under the old system and that the role of partisanship and money was quite similar to the modern Senate today. Though the U.S. changed the Constitution to enhance Senate representation, Schiller and Stewart argue that it remains an unfulfilled promise.
The talk will include a focus on the data collection of historical materials and how the authors went about digitizing them, inputting them, and working with the Brown Library on the online collection. The project includes more than 577,000 observations in Excel data format for roll call votes and 106,000 observations of the names of the legislators who served in state legislatures during the time of the study. It is a unique and original dataset.
Wendy Schiller is Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Brown University (on Twitter @profwschiller). She completed her undergraduate work in political science at the University of Chicago, served on the staffs of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Governor Mario Cuomo, and then obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Rochester. After Fellowships at the Brookings Institution and Princeton University, she came to Brown in 1994. She teaches popular courses titled The American Presidency, Introduction to the American Political Process, and Congress and Public Policy at Brown. Among books she has authored or co-authored are Gateways to Democracy: An Introduction to American Government (Cengage), The Contemporary Congress (Thomson-Wadsworth), and Partners and Rivals: Representation in U.S. Senate Delegations (Princeton University Press). Her latest book and the subject of this lecture, Electing the Senate: Indirect Democracy before the 17th Amendment, is forthcoming at Princeton University Press. The project grew out of a National Science Foundation grant.
She has also published in academic journals including the American Journal of Political Science, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Studies in American Political Development, and the Journal of Politics. She is a frequent contributor to major national news outlets such as MSNBC, NPR, CNN.com, and Bloomberg News, she provides local political commentary to the Providence Journal, WPRO radio, RIPBS A Lively Experiment, and she is the political analyst for WJAR10, the local NBC affiliate in Providence. Professor Schiller regularly gives speeches on current and historical American politics to local and national organizations.
Date: April 24, 2014
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street