Representative Shirley Chisholm of New York signed this oath of office card on January 21, 1969. Representatives take the verbal oath of office en masse on the first day of each new Congress. Beginning in the 80th Congress (1947–1949), Members have also reaffirmed their commitment by signing oath of office cards. The cards are filed with the Clerk of the House and become House records that are open to the public after 30 years.
Chisholm was the first African-American woman elected to Congress. Unwilling to abide by the plodding pace and hidebound traditions of her new workplace, Chisholm got straight to work on behalf of her district. After initially being assigned a seat on the Agriculture Committee, Chisholm fought for re-assignment to a post that that would benefit constituents of her district, centered in Brooklyn, New York—a bold move nearly unheard of for a freshman Member. During her seven terms in Congress, she served on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Education and Labor Committee, and on the Rules Committee. While in Congress, Chisholm continually broke new ground: She was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Women’s Caucus and, in 1972, became the first African-American female to campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.