Whereas: Stories from the People’s House

The history of Hispanic Members who served in Congress is one shaped by changes in American society and in the House. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, we invite you to learn more about these Members in their own words.

As the United States expanded westward over the course of the 19th century, many new people became part of the country. The role of these new residents increased, although not without challenges. House records document these early events and the journey of Hispanic Americans in what became the Southwest United States, and in Congress.

When newly elected Resident Commissioner Federico Degetau of Puerto Rico, the first Member of Congress from the island territory, began his service in the 57th Congress (1901–1903), the media treated him with attentive curiosity. But despite the fanfare and expression of goodwill, Degetau remained unwelcome in the one place that served as the legislature’s nerve center: the House Floor.

Gained in Translation

Gained in Translation

Just weeks after José Manuel Gallegos triumphed in a contested election in 1853, becoming New Mexico’s first Hispanic Territorial Delegate in the U.S. House, he found himself in a difficult quandary. Gallegos spoke no English and his request to use an interpreter on the floor failed to win his colleagues’ support. Yet, Gallegos’s early experience didn’t constitute the final word on the use of foreign languages on the House Floor. Indeed, for many reasons, Representatives have spoken in languages other than English. And, occasionally, they have done so in Spanish.
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Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

In the summer of 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed into law an act that expanded Hispanic Heritage Week, first created by Congress in 1968, into Hispanic Heritage Month. Sponsored by California Representative Esteban Torres and Illinois Senator Paul Simon, the new law created an annual month-long celebration of Hispanic-American culture and history.

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Slam Dunk: Doughnuts and the House

Dunking a Doughnut into Coffee
Doughnuts have long been a favorite Washington breakfast. Crullers cooked up debate both on and off the House Floor.

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Reporting Live from the House Chamber

Press Gallery Pass
Reporters have covered the House from its earliest days, providing a vital link between the people and their Representatives.

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Edition for Educators—Presidency and the House

This Edition for Educators highlights the Presidency and its complicated relationship with the House of Representatives.

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We’ve Re-launched Our Blog

When we launched our blog in late 2012, a new world of storytelling opened. For the last six years, the historians, curators, and archivists at the U.S. House of Representatives have discovered and documented an eclectic mix of people, events, records, and artifacts that have helped reveal how the House has evolved over the last 229 years. This summer, after having published nearly 300 entries to our blog since 2012, we’ve given it an overhaul.

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