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

The Famous Umbrella of Ernest Ackerman

Ernest Ackerman with Umbrella
Ernest Ackerman stood outside on a staircase. A black umbrella, clasped in his right hand and leaning against his shoulder, unfurled behind him. But, as you might notice, it wasn’t raining.

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Integrating Dick and Jane

Illustration of Children Playing from the Cover of Fun with Dick and Jane
Fun with Our Friends, a Dick and Jane reader, played a role in a congressional hearing about bias, race, and education.

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Wooden Sword, Spitting Lyon

For several weeks in early 1798 legislative business in the U.S. House of Representatives slowed to a crawl as the relatively young chamber grappled with a quandary both uncharted and unpleasant: whether and how to discipline its Members for unacceptable behavior.

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Categories: People, Institution

The Mediator

Representative Matthew Dunn Speaks to Striking Workers
Pennsylvania Representative Matthew A. Dunn stood in front of the strikers, wearing dark sunglasses inside the Pittsburgh plant. The Pennsylvania Association for the Blind workers’ strike had already slid into its second week in the late winter of 1937 when a whistle rang out, calling the room to order. Quieting the radio, the strikers turned toward the sound of Dunn’s voice. “I am with you on your strike,” the Representative said, “except I don’t think you are asking enough.”

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Categories: People, Photography

Home at the House

Mrs. Smith with Pages
For more than two centuries, Pages assisted Representatives with errands, relaying messages, and other tasks. Early on, Members appointed Pages from the Washington area, but by the 20th century, most were selected from congressional districts around the country. When teenaged Pages came to Washington, they often made their temporary home in a residence like Olive Smith’s house.

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Edition for Educators—House Leadership

This Edition for Educators highlights House Leadership. The U.S. Constitution offers spare guidance as to how House leadership should be organized, noting only that the Membership “shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers.” By the early 20th century, each of the major parties gradually created entire organizations to advance their legislative agendas in the House.

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Categories: Education, Institution, People