The Entire History Of Congress In One Stunning Visualization

congress guideWell this is worth printing out and analyzing with your class. It’s an in-depth (to say the least) look at the trends of Congress and how they respond to who is elected president. What could be more topical? This infographic is from the must-follow XKCD and is one of the most elaborate things I’ve ever seen come out of that site.

To get a printer-friendly PDF, click here.

The infographic below is dense and requires a lot of time to analyze and understand. That seems to be the trend with infographics these days. In any case, pay special attention to the legend(s) on the top right side of the graphic. It outlines what the various strands mean, what the color coding indicates, and how the visualization was built.

Then start focusing on the actual colored strands. I recommend starting at the bottom with George Washington. Then pay special attention to the little blurbs along each strand. They outline why there are outliers, what that means, and why.

This is incredibly informative if you take the time to look at it. I spent about 20 minutes staring at it before writing this. And loved it. Hope you do too!history of congress


  1. Ted Voth Jr

    January 12, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Unfortunately it’s too small to read, and if I blow it up it pixelates… DAMN! Otherwise, looks great; could we have a link?

    • Trebor

      January 15, 2013 at 3:12 pm

      Click on the image…

  2. Nrec LLeshaj

    January 14, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    Our country is in bad shape because of the unnecessary laws implemented for everyone’s benefits.
    For example: 1. Many charity organizations are abusing laws for their gain. (Only one is good that we all know and that is Red Cross Swiss philanthropist Henri Dunant 1828–1910 Geneva)
    1. US philanthropists donate billions of dollars for kids, (that’s a good job – IF ITS TRUE) In fact big donors, they open charitable organizations for themselves and use their people or their president and take advantage of the tax deductions, (theft #1) take control of the charity ask people to donate (theft #2) use donated money to make vaccines or sort of health, Religion, education (theft #3) and sell vaccines and health care systems (just to mention a few) to our kids that was meant to be free (theft #4) now hard working families pay for second time. Once give donation and second time buy what was already paid with their tax money (I would call this a double dip – just unbelievable). We end up trillions in debt each year…
    Lets go a step further. Can you believe our citizens have been paying fraudulent income tax since 1913 (tax money that was supposed to be used to balance our state on gold, just imagine the price of gold 100 years ago verses today. US would absolutely be in great strength and way above the balance of our economy. Our economy from hard working people in this country today is around 8 Trillion a year). What happen on 1913? President Wilson signed in to law 100 years ago. You see for this reason we should conclude that it is easy to sign in to law but hard to remove a bad law.

    In the other hand philanthropist are to busy when you need them, because they rushing 501(c) organizations to receive donation. Government corrupting it’s own self signing new law’s and 501(c) organizations corrupting people.

  3. Max Newell

    January 15, 2013 at 8:31 am

    Pretty cool, though it’s sort of hard to solidly define left and right in our system until around the 1920s. I mean, could you really call the hard-core abolitionists of the mid-19th century Republican party “far right”?

  4. Rich

    January 15, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Fascinating way to organize this history!
    But I’m continually irked that the people use the current color scheme, rather than stick with traditional (and internationally recognized) convention. Think of the term “blue blooded” or the Chinese Communist song “The East Is Red.”