The Lindy Claiborne Boggs Room

Lindy Claiborne Boggs Congressional Women’s Reading Room, 2010/tiles/non-collection/b/boggs_overview_roomphoto_ocomm.xml
Image courtesy of the Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives The Lindy Claiborne Boggs room has served as a retiring space for women Members since 1962. The John Quincy Adams and Latrobe couches (right and left) are important historic pieces of furniture in the Capitol.
Edith Green Notepad/tiles/non-collection/b/boggs_overview_edith_green_2005_167_000.xml
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
A 10-term Member from Oregon, Edith Green was the first to press for a retiring space for Congresswomen in 1958.
Maud Elizabeth Kee/tiles/non-collection/b/boggs_overview_maudkee_nara.xml
Image courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration  In 1961, Elizabeth Kee appealed to Speaker Rayburn on behalf of all the women in Congress, explaining “an intolerable situation with reference to the Retiring Room.”

A Witness to History

This historic space northeast of Statuary Hall once served as an office for Speakers, Clerks of the House, and Committees. A witness to over two centuries of history, the Lindy Claiborne Boggs Congressional Women’s Reading Room has hosted numerous celebrated figures, including Speaker Henry Clay and President John Quincy Adams. Since 1962, the suite has belonged to the Congresswomen of the House.

A Room for Congresswomen

In the 1950s, the number of women in Congress more than doubled. Their growing numbers brought to light the lack of women’s restroom facilities anywhere near the House Chamber. In 1958, women in Congress began to press for a retiring room of their own. Edith Green of Oregon was the first to officially suggest a “ladies retiring room.”

In 1961, Speaker Sam Rayburn assigned a room to the women Members. But this was not a workable solution, as seventeen women shared a single lavatory, far from the Chamber. The following year, the Congresswomen’s petition for control of room H-235, later the Boggs room, was granted, giving them additional space and a new powder room. Representative Frances Bolton showed a particular interest in outfitting the space, taking the lead in acquiring furniture and choosing upholsteries.

While not as close to the Chamber as the Members’ Retiring Room, adjacent to the Speaker’s Lobby, the Congressional Ladies Retiring Room, as it was first officially called, was a great improvement in convenience for the women. In 1991, room H-235 was renamed the Lindy Claiborne Boggs Congressional Women’s Reading Room to honor Boggs’s fifty-year association with Congress. It was the first—and, so far, the only time—a room in the Capitol was named for a woman.

Today, the room serves as a gathering place for Congresswomen as well as a place for rest and refreshment. Its walls are now lined with photographs of all the Congresswomen who have served in the House.