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

Lawn and Order

Seven workers lowered their scythes and posed for a picture outside the Capitol. In the 19th century, a well-manicured lawn symbolized stability and righteousness—exactly the image of the nation that Congress wanted to project. But it took a lot of work to keep the Capitol’s grounds photo ready. It was a real case of lawn versus order.

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Ten Trumpets and a Flying Coffin

What did it take to be heard in the House of Representatives? Acoustics were notoriously bad in the House Chamber in the early 20th century. Getting from “wait, what?” to “loud and clear” required three tries, ten trumpets, and a flying coffin.

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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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Esther and Ellen

In 1910, two women artists doubled the number of paintings by women in the House of Representatives. One, Ellen Day Hale, was highly accomplished, and the other, Esther Edmonds, was an emerging talent at the start of her career.

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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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Washington, Schlepped Here

This familiar portrait of George Washington hangs in the Rayburn Room of the Capitol. Its location seems to make perfect sense: the capital city bears Washington’s name, he laid the building’s cornerstone, and his likeness is repeated hundreds of times around the city. Nonetheless, the Capitol was never intended to be this painting’s home.

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Categories: Art & Artifacts