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Office of the Parliamentarian

The parliamentarian is the Senate's advisor on the interpretation of its rules and precedents. For many years, the Senate relied solely upon the expertise of its members and clerks for guidance in procedural issues. As legislative activity became more complex in the 20th century, senators turned to long-time journal clerk Charles Watkins, whose vast knowledge of parliamentary procedure proved invaluable. Finally, in 1935, the Senate created the Office of the Parliamentarian, and gave Watkins the official title of Senate Parliamentarian. To date, only five individuals have held that title, including Floyd Riddick, whose oral history interview provides a detailed history of this important office.