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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Through Her Lens

With a bounce in her step and a camera in hand, Dolly Seelmeyer walked through the halls of the United States Capitol, from 1972 to 2004, as the first female House photographer, ready to prove she could do anything a male photographer could do—“and do it better.”

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Edition for Educators—Asian Pacific Heritage Month

Norman Mineta spent nearly four years of his childhood in internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II. First elected in 1974, Mineta served 11 terms in the House of Representatives and worked to hold the legislative process accountable and address the mistakes of the past. Learn more about the efforts and accomplishments of Mineta and other Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Congress for Asian Pacific Heritage Month.

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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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Rediscovering Rainey's Reign

It’s unclear what prompted Representative Luke Poland of Vermont to leave the rostrum that day and yield the gavel, as the 43rd Congress (1873–1875) debated an Indian appropriations bill. But what is clear is that he set in motion a series of events that seemed the very culmination of the Civil War. When Poland stepped down, Joseph Hayne Rainey of South Carolina—a former slave who had once been impressed into service by the Confederacy before escaping to Bermuda—mounted the Speaker’s rostrum, grasped the gavel, and set Capitol Hill abuzz.

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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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