“Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.”
The History, Art & Archives website has all you need to keep your mind sharp (and entertained) this summer. Learn more about some “summer reading” options about the House of Representatives.
A Bibliography of the History of the U.S. House of Representatives
This bibliography is a compilation of both official House histories and scholarly analyses of the House of Representatives. While not an exhaustive list, it is meant to help researchers and students gain a more sophisticated understanding of the institutional developments and personalities that have shaped the House. The bibliography is organized into three sections:
Brush up on House history with a series of fact sheets on Speakers, the House Rostrum, Official Records, and other related topics. A starting point for research projects or inquiries about the House, these overviews can be used in the classroom or for quick reference.
Hispanic Americans in Congress
Since 1822, when Delegate Joseph Marion Hernández of Florida became the first Hispanic American to serve in Congress, a total of 102 Hispanic Americans have served as U.S. Representatives, Delegates, Resident Commissioners, or Senators. Based on the book Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822–2012, this exhibit contains biographical profiles of former Hispanic Members of Congress, links to information about current Hispanic Members, essays on the institutional and national events that shaped successive generations of Hispanic Members of Congress, and images of each individual Member, including rare photos. Summer reading would not be complete without poetry—in the original Spanish and English translation—referenced in the text.
Coya Gjesdal Knutson of Minnesota
Unlike so many women whose marriage connections catapulted them to Congress, Coya Knutson’s familial ties brought her promising political career to a premature close. Knutson’s work in the House was devoted largely to protecting family farmers and opening educational opportunities. However, in a family drama worthy of a summer bestseller, her political career unraveled after her husband teamed with her political adversaries under the slogan “Coya, Come Home,” publicly calling on her to resign.
Robert Smalls of South Carolina
With a life story that reads like an adventure novel, Robert Smalls became a Union hero when he escaped slavery in a hijacked Confederate ship during the Civil War. He later served five terms in the U.S. House, representing a South Carolina district described as a “black paradise” because of its abundant political opportunities for freedmen. Overcoming the state Democratic Party’s repeated attempts to remove that “blemish” from its goal of white supremacy, Smalls endured violent elections and a short jail term to achieve internal improvements for coastal South Carolina and to fight for his black constituents in the face of growing disfranchisement.
One of the First Efforts by the House of Representatives to Preserve Its Records
On June 6, 1900, the House of Representatives took its first step toward the longterm preservation of its records, by providing funding for document storage in a general appropriations bill. The new Clerk of the House, former Congressman Alexander McDowell of Pennsylvania, initiated the change.
President Nixon Watergate Letter
In 1974, the House Committee on the Judiciary, led by Chairman Peter Rodino, held an inquiry on whether President Richard Nixon should be impeached. The House has “the sole Power of Impeachment” under the Constitution (Article I, Section 2). In preparation for these proceedings, the Judiciary Committee served President Nixon with subpoenas for tapes and diaries relating to the Watergate break-in. President Nixon responded with two letters to Chairman Rodino outlining the reasons why he would not comply with the subpoenas.
This is part of a series of blog posts for educators highlighting the resources available on History, Art & Archives of the U.S. House of Representatives. For lesson plans, fact sheets, glossaries, and other materials for the classroom, see the website's Education section.Follow @USHouseHistory