Pictures Worth a Thousand Words

As the Capitol and the city of Washington expanded, so did the variety and volume of souvenirs. Advancements in photography brought stereoviews to the market and gave visitors realistic, three-dimensional views of the Capitol to enjoy at home. These images could be purchased just up the street from the Capitol, at shops like J. Jarvis Stereoscopic Views and Bell and Brother studios on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Passes to special events in the Capitol came into use in the late 19th century, beginning a keepsake tradition that continues today. The earliest passes were handwritten, like this Member’s Gallery example signed by Speaker Samuel Randall in 1878. Printed special event passes were also in use in the 19th century. The 1889 pass to a ceremony commemorating George Washington’s inauguration is a particularly decorative example. Standard steel-engraved gallery passes produced by the Bureau of Printing and Engraving came into use at the turn of the 20th century. This first design, seen in the Champ Clark pass,remained in use until the mid-20th century, and features a female personification of Liberty holding the House Mace, a symbol of the institution’s authority.

Columbus Doors Stereoview
<em>Columbus Doors Stereoview</em>/tiles/non-collection/2/2004_077_000.xml
The Columbus Doors—also called the Rotunda Doors— in this stereoview were installed at the Capitol's main entrance on the east front in 1863. The 17-foot high bronze doors were designed by sculptor Randolph Rogers, and depict scenes from the life of Christopher Columbus. This stereoview of the impressive entrance is one of many images of the Capitol produced as souvenirs by J. Jarvis’s Photographic Emporium, which was located a block away from the Capitol.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Capitol Reception Room Stereoview
<em>Capitol Reception Room Stereoview</em>/tiles/non-collection/2/2005_53-2.xml
The Capitol was a popular subject for stereoviews during the peak of the medium’s popularity. This period coincided with space reconfigurations within the newly constructed House wing of the Capitol, including that of this space, the House Reception Room. Formerly the Speaker’s private rooms and a post office, walls were removed in 1879 to create the well-appointed reception room pictured here.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Member's Gallery Pass
<em>Member's Gallery Pass</em>/tiles/non-collection/R/Randall_pass.xml
In contrast to the attractively designed passes that came into use in the 1890s, this early Member's Gallery pass signed by Speaker Samuel Randall in 1878 was scribbled on House stationery. Passes to Capitol spaces and House of Representatives sessions have been prized souvenirs since they first came into use in the mid-19th century.

Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Visitor's Gallery Pass
<em>Visitor's Gallery Pass</em>/tiles/non-collection/P/Pass_black.xml
Attractive engraved visitor’s gallery passes, like this example signed by Georgia Representative James Black in 1894, began to appear in the 1890s. Calligraphic script and an image of the Capitol on card stock—in addition to the signature of the Member—made these popular keepsakes for visitors.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Statue of Freedom Stereoview
<em>Statue of Freedom Stereoview</em>/tiles/non-collection/2/2005_147_000pq.xml

The plaster cast of the statue of Freedom—the bronze version of which surmounts the Capitol dome—figures prominently in this stereoview of Statuary Hall. The 19th-century Freedom was imagined as a female warrior with an eagle feather headdress, a sword, and a stars-and-stripes shield. This space, which served as the House Chamber from 1819 until 1857, became National Statuary Hall in 1864.



 

Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
House Chamber Stereoview
<em>House Chamber Stereoview</em>/tiles/non-collection/B/Bell_Chamber_fresco.xml
The House Chamber from the perspective of the visitor’s gallery was popular among stereoview photographers. The remarkable features of the Chamber—the George Washington and Lafayette portraits, the marble rostrum, the Brumidi fresco, press gallery, and elaborate Walter desks—could all be included in the image. This particular view could have been purchased just up the street from the Capitol, at the Bell and Brother photographic studios on Pennsylvania Avenue. 
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
House Chamber Stereoview
<em>House Chamber Stereoview</em>/tiles/non-collection/2/2005_159_000.xml
This popular view of the House Chamber from the visitor’s gallery was published by Bell and Brother, a Washington, D.C., photo studio in 1868.  John Vanderlyn’s 1834 George Washington portrait and its pendant, the Marquis de Lafayette, can be seen on either side of the marble rostrum from this perspective. Constantino Brumidi’s fresco Cornwallis Sues for Cessation of Hostilities, depicting General Washington receiving a British emissary in his tent, is also included in the view, on the same wall of the Chamber. Moreover, this was the same perspective as that of a tourist, reinforcing the concept of the stereoview as proxy for a personal visit to a site.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Visitor's Gallery Pass
<em>Visitor's Gallery Pass</em>/tiles/non-collection/R/Reed_pass.xml
Signed by powerful Speaker Thomas Brackett Reed, this visitor’s gallery pass made a valuable keepsake. Engraved passes began to appear in the 1890s, but unlike in later years, when the design was rigorously standardized, there is variation in the scenes depicted in the background. Here, the Capitol and the grounds are shown, with the detail of many carriages and pedestrians crossing the foreground. Other examples issued later in the same year simplified the formula, setting the building in a vague, brushy space.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Capitol and Botanic Garden Stereoview
<em>Capitol and Botanic Garden Stereoview</em>/tiles/non-collection/G/Greenhouse.xml
By the 1870s the National Mall—shown here anchored by the Capitol at its eastern end—was beginning to take shape as the tourist destination it is today. National Botanical Garden greenhouses, seen in the foreground of this view, the Smithsonian Institution, and other gardens were opened, providing what was intended as a space of public edification and education.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this image
Visitor's Gallery Pass
<em>Visitor's Gallery Pass</em>/tiles/non-collection/C/Clark_pass.xml
The design featured on gallery passes for several decades debuted at the turn of the 20th century. This pass, signed by future Speaker Champ Clark, includes the trio of symbols that endured—a female personification of Liberty holding the House’s mace, a shield with stars and stripes surrounded by oak and laurel leaves, and an abstract arch—also decorated with acorns, oak leaves, and a laurel branch—that reaches around the Liberty figure.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Visitor's Gallery Pass
<em>Visitor's Gallery Pass</em>/tiles/non-collection/2/2007_169_001.xml
George Washington–related commemorations have always been popular in Congress. This pass was required for admittance into the 1889 ceremony celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first President’s inauguration. Produced by the the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, the pass is distinguished by the bureau’s well-known engraving after Gilbert Stuart’s 1796 “Athenaeum” portrait of Washington, which first appeared on the U.S. dollar bill in 1869.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object