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

Sketchy Job Interview

When Constantino Brumidi first arrived at the United States Capitol, he made this sketch. It was his job application to paint the capitol's frescoes. Brumidi ultimately decorated much of the Capitol's interior. And this little painting is where it all began.

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Categories: Art & Artifacts

Fair Fight

World’s fairs were big business at the turn of the 20th century, and constituents—with scores of pro-fair campaign postcards in hand—lined up behind San Francisco Representative Julius Kahn’s efforts to bring the 1915 event to the city by the bay.

 

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Categories: Art & Artifacts

To Be a Gallery God

“To be a gallery god in the House of Representatives is to have a free seat at a unique performance.” So said one newspaper, and for two centuries Americans have agreed, with gusto. The House Collection contains some of the oldest (and newest) varieties of gallery tickets, from scribbled passes to high-tech printed ones.

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Breaking the Code: Duncan Lee, HUAC, and the Venona Files

Duncan Lee
Here’s the thing about being a spy: You can’t tell anybody. Especially if you’re a descendant of the Lee family of Virginia, educated at an elite prep school and university, a Rhodes Scholar, a lawyer at a prominent Manhattan law firm, and working in counterintelligence for the United States. Duncan Chaplin Lee was and did all of those things. He was a spy, and he got away with it.

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Lobbying in the Lobby

Buttonholing Members of Congress to tell them how you think they should vote—that’s as old as the republic itself. But calling it “lobbying”? Where does that come from?

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A Tale of Two Vases

Sevres Vase blooms
Once upon a time, in 1918, the U.S. House of Representatives received a gift of two porcelain vases. They were exquisite. Commanding attention, standing nearly six feet tall, the attractive vessels were a gesture from France expressing gratitude for America’s role in World War I.

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Categories: Art & Artifacts