History, Art & Archives of the U.S. House of Representatives

Gone to Seed

Seed Distribution
Cucumber, watermelon, parsley, radish, and pea. Congressional seed distribution took root in 1839 to improve domestic agriculture and propagate rare plants. But it didn’t grow organically.

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Dial Main 3120 for Members

Harriott Daley, Director of the Capitol Switchboard
Standing next to the Capitol switchboard, chief operator Harriott Daley broke into a smile. “She must have a lot of interesting recollections,” a Washington Post reporter mused, “since she is in the top telephone spot in the Nation.”

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Framing Women Members in Photographs

Winifred Claire Stanley
News photographs often depicted early female Members of Congress as homemakers and glamour girls rather than politicians, framing the public’s view of their Representatives.

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Papering the House

House Page Gilbert Gates and Philip Pitt Campbell
Imagine you are a teenager and unexpectedly come into a small fortune. What would you do with the money? One House Page took an unconventional path with his inheritance in 1923, using the funds to patent his peculiar invention.

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Please Put the Bartholdi Fountain in My Front Yard

Bartholdi Fountain
From 1877 to 1932, the Bartholdi Fountain searched for a permanent home. Though concealed in the old Botanic Garden grounds near the Capitol, the majestic water feature attracted a lot of attention. Everyone in Washington, D.C., had an opinion about where it should go. And every resident, it seemed, wanted it in his or her front yard.

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The Show Must Go On

Pemberton Dancers Pose Outside the Capitol
From impassioned speeches to interminable filibusters, congressional oratory is a performing art. But performance doesn’t end inside the House Chamber. The Capitol steps and grounds have set the stage for a number of unlikely recitals, from dancing “modern wood nymphs” to operatic House Pages.

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