Early in the last century, suffragette Alice Gram Robinson realized that discerning students of the legislative process had few places to turn to for, in her words, “an impartial view of controversial issues.”
With the launch of Congressional Digest in 1921, Robinson pioneered what was to become an enduring publication format: the even-handed presentation of opposing views on contentious national questions, Pro & Con.
A major source of inspiration for the Congressional Digest design was the 1920 ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. The best way to prevent newly franchised voters from being unduly swayed or intimidated by the actions and rhetoric of Congress, Robinson believed, was to provide them with side-by-side arguments on pending legislation. That way, if a woman “became enthused about some new Federal proposal, she could consult the opposite page and soon find out its shortcomings.”
For three generations, most recently under the leadership of Robinson’s granddaughter, Page Robinson, Congressional Digest, headquartered in Washington, DC, has continued and expanded Robinson’s path-breaking concept – adding unbiased coverage of key Supreme Court Debates in 1997, and International Debates in 2003. All three publications are available online with Congressional Digest Debates Online, our Pro & Con®online service.
Alice Gram Robinson’s vision of neutral analysis of current controversies is as essential to elevating policy debates in the era of 24/7 cable chatter as trusted, independent journalism was to offsetting a sensationalistic and censored press in the early twentieth century.
Today, under the Congressional Digest banner, students, teachers, librarians, policymakers, and other concerned citizens still have a time-honored, impartial source for information on controversial topics – with no agenda beyond the promotion of independent thought and a well-informed electorate.
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