The twentieth century brought greater industrialization and
an increase of commercially-made products. As tourism developed into an
industry, the availability of keepsakes for sale changed accordingly. While gallery passes, signed menus and other
experience-oriented souvenirs remained popular, keepsakes from the Capitol
became even more popular over the course of the 20th century. Everyday objects adorned with images of the
Capitol, such as the compact, plate and handkerchief holder shown here,
reflected the growing commercial market for souvenirs.The increasingly prevalent image of the Capitol
dome showed its growing status as an icon of Washington, D.C.
souvenir, however, never went out of style. A House Restaurant menu, with a note from Kika de la Garza was expressly
given “as a remembrance of [a] visit to the Capitol.” The eye-catching I Visited Congressman Brown in Washington
bumper sticker is an example of a memento that was reproduced economically to
have on hand, serving both as a souvenir and a campaign item for enthusiastic
A popular ladies’ accessory in the 1940s, the handkerchief holder was among the utilitarian objects adapted as travel souvenirs in the mid-20th century. The satin cases helped keep handkerchiefs neatly folded in handbags. They were manufactured for popular destinations, such as Yellowstone National Park and Washington, D.C., and this example uses an image of the iconic East Front view of the Capitol, and clearly indicates the nature and intended function of the object—a souvenir for holding “hankies.”
Although souvenirs of a visit to the Capitol were always popular, the
20th century saw an increase in the variety of objects associated with
the Capitol. In addition to photographic images, postcards and
illustrated guides, utilitarian objects featuring representations of the
Capitol began to appear. This metal compact is decorated with an
embossed image of the Capitol and its grounds and likely once contained
Capitol Commemorative Plate
True to its role as the center point of Washington’s architectural landmarks, the U.S. Capitol is the focus of this mid-20th century souvenir plate. The executive and judiciary branches are represented by the White House and Supreme Court building. The Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, the Washington Monument, Mount Vernon, and Arlington Cemetery’s tomb of the unknown soldier round out the sites typically visited during a trip to Washington. This plate was made by the Salem China Company in Ohio, which manufactured a variety of mid-century dinnerware and souvenir pieces.
Brown Bumper Sticker
Mementos provided by Member's offices for visiting constituents such as this bright, eye-catching bumper sticker served as campaign materials as well as souvenirs. As a type of campaign material, bumper stickers became increasingly popular after the mid-20th, as cars became the norm.
Members' Dining Room Menu
Personal connections to constituents have long been important aspects of a Representative’s work. This 1973 Members’ Dining Room menu with a personal message from Kika de la Garza to his visiting constituents, exemplifies the effect of the personal interaction on the more universal experience of visiting the Capitol. For decades, the dining room used paper menus, which were often signed and as souvenirs of a visit to the Capitol.