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

Edition for Educators—Firsts for Women in Congress

Patsy Mink
In 1965, Patsy Mink became the first woman of color elected to Congress. An advocate for equal rights as well as many other women’s issues, one of her greatest accomplishments was the passage of the Women’s Education Equality Act, as part of a comprehensive education bill, in 1974. Learn more about Mink and other firsts for women in Congress.

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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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Topping Uncle Joe

Joseph Cannon in his topper
Just an accessory? Maybe not. At a time when men’s hats spoke volumes about their personalities and status, Speaker Joseph Cannon’s headwear, including slouch hats, straw hats, and an “ancient woolly topper,” proved a potent symbol of his iron power, strong personality, and folksy manner.

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Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage “Like Going to Normandy with Dwight Eisenhower”

Annual Selma Pilgrimmage
Rarely do we visit a historic site with someone who helped to make history there. But this weekend, more than 60 Members of Congress will travel to Alabama with Selma veteran and Congressman John Lewis of Georgia. The Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage will commemorate the 50th anniversaries of the Selma-to-Montgomery marches which spurred passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. The pilgrimage is an important congressional tradition and one the Office of the Historian chronicles through its civil rights oral history project.

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Before Bloody Sunday

Congressional Delegation to Visit Alabama
A month before Selma became synonymous with the struggle for voting rights, a group of Congressmen traveled to the city and returned to Washington to sound the alarm. “We—as Members of Congress—must face the fact that existing legislation just is not working,” Joseph Resnick of New York said upon his return. “The situation in Selma must jar us from our complacency concerning voting rights.”

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Edition for Educators—African-American Congressmen in the 19th Century

Robert Smalls of South Carolina
Robert Smalls fought for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives despite violence from the opposition, and focused his congressional career on promoting African-American civil rights. Twenty-two African-Americans served in Congress from 1870 to 1901. Learn more about the life and accomplishments of Robert Smalls and other 19th-century African-American Members of Congress for Black History Month.

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