Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz

Image courtesy of Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives
“Like most people, you really don’t know what committees do. And once I got on the committee, I was wide-eyed. I was so typical of what you see when you see interns, and I was just like, ‘Wow, is this great? Thank you.’ And I just fell into it. It was the one thing that kept me on the Hill, because pretty much every job I had prior to that was two years. You get bored, you get in a rut. You got the routine down. The fascination with the Hill was it was never a routine. And as soon as you thought you had it down, there was an election, there was a change. The policies changed, the world changed, everything changed. And your direction changed, and you were just going along for the ride. So, it was fascinating."
Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, April 19, 2007

Abstract & Transcript

Looking for a new challenge, Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz stumbled upon a job opening for a secretary in the House Science Committee. Hired in 1969, in the midst of the space race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, Schwartz described the thrill and excitement of working in a collaborative environment with a patriotic mission and sense of destiny. During her time on the committee, she experienced history-in-the-making, attending an early space shuttle launch and routinely meeting astronauts and leading scientists. In her series of interviews, she explained how the scope of the committee expanded beyond space once the honeymoon period subsided and led to an increased scrutiny of the space program.

Originally interested in working in a Member’s office, Schwartz quickly found her niche, thriving in the fast-paced and unpredictable environment of a House committee. Throughout her career, she focused on the administrative side of committee work. Schwartz’s detailed recollections of the behind-the-scenes work of committees, provides a unique look at the relationship between legislative and support staff. When she switched from the Science Committee to Judiciary in 2000, Schwartz used her previous expertise to develop procedures to increase efficiency and organization.

First hired during a time when women typically occupied clerical positions, Schwartz revealed a gradual shift in an institution steeped in tradition that allowed for increased opportunities for females. She took advantage of the changing atmosphere, taking on more responsibility and becoming an indispensable asset to both committees. Schwartz’s interviews also reflect what she termed, “a simpler way of life,” where local farmers routinely stopped by the House to sell produce and special treats for the holidays, and congressional staff gathered on the Capitol grounds for a picnic.

In 2015, the Office of the House Historian conducted an interview with Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz for its oral history project: A Century of Women in Congress.

Biography

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz was born in 1946, in Abington, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. The middle child of William Goodwin Speed, an electrical engineer and World War II veteran, and Jane Hoskinson, a homemaker and office manager, Tish attended nearby Catholic schools, St. Luke’s and Bishop McDevitt High School. Urged by her father to leave the confines of Philadelphia to explore the wider world and apply for a job as a flight attendant, Tish accepted the challenge and worked for Northwest Airlines for two-and-a-half years.

Tish left behind the uncertainty of a career in which female employees who married or were considered too old to work as flight attendants were dismissed by airlines. She moved to Northern Virginia where she found employment as a security officer for a software firm. In 1969, she visited Pennsylvania Representative Edward Biester’s U.S. Capitol office looking for a new job. “I thought if I’m going to live in the Washington, D.C., area, then this is what’s happening and this is where everything is,” Tish later recollected. Although the office did not have any openings, the administrative assistant, Mary Ellen Ducander, encouraged her husband Charles Ducander, a Science Committee staffer, to interview Tish for a secretarial job. Tish accepted a position with the committee, paving the way for her nearly four-decade career on the Hill.

In 1970, Tish married Stephen Schwartz. The couple welcomed a son, William Norman Schwartz, in 1975. While employed by the House, Tish Schwartz attended Northern Virginia Community School for two years, and earned a secretarial certificate from the Washington School for Secretaries.

Initially hired as a secretary for the Science Committee, Schwartz quickly branched out working as a publications clerk, transcript coordinator, and hearings clerk for several Science subcommittees. In 1976 she joined the newly created minority staff for the Science Committee. Here, she performed an array of administrative tasks in her role as administrative assistant on the Science Committee for Republican Members, Larry Winn of Kansas, Manuel Luján of New Mexico, and Robert Walker of Pennsylvania.

When Republicans took control of the House in 1995 for the first time in four decades, Schwartz was appointed Chief Clerk Administrator for the Science Committee. In her new position, she oversaw the hiring and training of the new majority staff, contributed to the development of policies for committee websites, and spearheaded the modernization and technological renovation of the Science Committee’s hearing room.

Schwartz left the Science Committee in 2000, to work as the Chief Clerk Administrator for the House Committee on the Judiciary. During her six years with Judiciary she implemented many of the administrative policies and procedures that she established on the Science Committee. She also took the lead in the archiving the records of the impeachment proceedings against President William J. “Bill” Clinton.

On January 2, 2007, Tish Schwartz retired after 37 years of service in the House.

Video

"Apple Pie and America"

Memories of the thrill of the Space Age and the work of the House Science Committee.

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, Chief Clerk/Administrator, House Committee on the Judiciary
Interview recorded June 22, 2015 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

An Amazing Opportunity

Personal account of attending an early space shuttle launch.

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, Chief Clerk/Administrator, House Committee on the Judiciary
Interview recorded June 22, 2015 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Learning the Ropes

Observations of the learning process for new Representatives.

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, Chief Clerk/Administrator, House Committee on the Judiciary
Interview recorded June 22, 2015 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Collegiality and Respect

Recollections of collegiality among Members.

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, Chief Clerk/Administrator, House Committee on the Judiciary
Interview recorded June 22, 2015 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Science Subcommittee Assignments

Detailed description of the mechanics of subcommittee assignments at the beginning of a new Congress.

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, Chief Clerk/Administrator, House Committee on the Judiciary
Interview recorded June 22, 2015 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Impact of Televised Committee Hearings

Impressions of the effect of televising committee hearings.

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, Chief Clerk/Administrator, House Committee on the Judiciary
Interview recorded June 22, 2015 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

The Pulse of the Institution

Description of the work of Science Committee staff.

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, Chief Clerk/Administrator, House Committee on the Judiciary
Interview recorded June 22, 2015 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

"That's Why I Loved Working Here"

Recollections of the factors that made coming to work a thrill.

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, Chief Clerk/Administrator, House Committee on the Judiciary
Interview recorded June 22, 2015 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Behind the Scenes

Planning for future emergency situations at the Capitol.

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, Chief Clerk/Administrator, House Committee on the Judiciary
Interview recorded June 23, 2011 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

House Committee on the Judiciary

Detailed description of the House Committee on the Judiciary the morning of the attacks.

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, Chief Clerk/Administrator, House Committee on the Judiciary
Interview recorded June 23, 2011 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

The USA PATRIOT Act

Personal account of how the anthrax attacks affected the legislative process.

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, Chief Clerk/Administrator, House Committee on the Judiciary
Interview recorded June 23, 2011 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Clerical Pool

Patricia Schwartz recalls the responsibilities of the clerical pool for the House Science Committee in the early 1970s.

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, Chief Clerk/Administrator, House Committee on the Judiciary
Interview recorded June 22, 2015 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Salary of a Married Woman

Patricia Schwartz describes the way marital status created inequalities in pay.

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, Chief Clerk/Administrator, House Committee on the Judiciary
Interview recorded June 22, 2015 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Coming Back to Work

Patricia Schwartz discusses the challenges working women faced in the office in the 1970s.

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, Chief Clerk/Administrator, House Committee on the Judiciary
Interview recorded June 22, 2015 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Men in Clerical Positions: Part One

Patricia Schwartz discusses entry level positions for men and women on the Hill.

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, Chief Clerk/Administrator, House Committee on the Judiciary
Interview recorded June 22, 2015 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Men in Clerical Positions: Part Two

Patricia Schwartz remembers men and women competing for clerical positions on the Hill.

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, Chief Clerk/Administrator, House Committee on the Judiciary
Interview recorded June 22, 2015 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Women's Perspective

Patricia Schwartz describes taking initiative on the job and bringing a women's perspective to the legislative process.

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, Chief Clerk/Administrator, House Committee on the Judiciary
Interview recorded June 22, 2015 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Women Working Together

Patricia Schwartz discusses how relationships between women in the workplace have changed over time.

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, Chief Clerk/Administrator, House Committee on the Judiciary
Interview recorded June 22, 2015 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Women as Mentors

Patricia Schwartz discusses the women who gave her valuable advice on the job.

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, Chief Clerk/Administrator, House Committee on the Judiciary
Interview recorded June 22, 2015 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Audio

Preparation for Hearings

Patricia Schwartz explains the mechanisms that keep committee hearings running.

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, Chief Clerk/Administrator, House Committee on the Judiciary
Interview recorded April 19, 2007 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

The First Few Weeks

Detailed overview of the administrative tasks of committees at the start of a new Congress.

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, Chief Clerk/Administrator, House Committee on the Judiciary
Interview recorded April 19, 2007 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Images & Artifacts

Apollo 8 Certificate
Apollo 8 Certificate/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_schwartz_letter.xml

Certificate presented to Patricia (Tish) Speed in recognition of the House Science Committee’s role in the Apollo 8 mission in 1968.

Image courtesy of Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives

Challenger Space Shuttle Crew, 1983
<i>Challenger </i>Space Shuttle Crew, 1983/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_schwartz_earlyscience.xml

In her oral history, Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz described the close relationship between NASA and the House Science Committee, which included a formal report made by astronauts to the committee after each space mission. Here, Schwartz posed with the astronauts from the June 1983 Space Shuttle Challenger flight, including the first American woman to fly in space, Sally Ride.

Image courtesy of Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives

House Science Committee
House Science Committee/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_schwartz_committee80s.xml

Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz (front row, second from the left), posed for a picture during the 104th Congress (1995–1997) with other Science Committee staff, and Chairman Robert Smith Walker of Pennsylvania (back row, fourth from the left).

Image courtesy of Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives

 

 

Portrait Unveiling
Portrait Unveiling/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_schwartz_unveiling.xml

Don Fuqua of Florida, the House Science Committee Chairman from the 96th through the 99th Congresses (1979–1987), took time for a picture at his chairman portrait unveiling with longtime committee staffer, Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz.

Image courtesy of Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives

Chairman Robert (Bob) Smith Walker
Chairman Robert (Bob) Smith Walker/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_schwartz_walker.xml

In this photograph, Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz posed with the chairman of the House Science Committee during the 104th Committee (1995–1997), Robert (Bob) Smith Walker of Pennsylvania. Schwartz worked for the Science Committee for more than three decades.

Image courtesy of Patricia (Tish) Speed Schwartz, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives