For more than two centuries, young people served as Pages in the U.S. House of Representatives and enjoyed an unparalleled opportunity to observe and participate in the legislative process in “the People’s House.”
Despite the frequent and colossal changes to America’s national fabric over that period, the expectations and experiences of House Pages, regardless of when they served, have been linked by certain commonalities—witnessing history, interacting with Representatives, and taking away lifelong inspiration to participate in civic life. Changing institutional needs and broader civil rights reforms transformed the composition of the Page ranks over time. And the methods Pages employed to do their work changed as successive generations adjusted to revolutionary advancements in technology: from the telegraph to the television; from horseback to air travel; from faxes to e-mails and smart phones. Nevertheless, paging provided generations of young people the “chance to see Congress as it really is,” recalled one participant who served in the 1930s. Paging was a direct experience with democratic government—not as told by pundits, political commentators, or history texts, but an immediate and participatory opportunity to understand “the actual, picturesque, human side of Congress.”1
1Albert C. Losche, Washington Memoirs (Indianapolis, IN: Indianapolis Printing Company, 1940): foreword.