The House Collection includes thousands of historic photographs. Although some are standard Member headshots, other images show events stately and significant, as well as informal or unusual scenes. These artifacts depict what life was like in the House of Representatives as far back as 1860. To celebrate National Photo Month, staff from History, Art & Archives were asked to submit their favorite photos from the House Collection. Here are our #StaffPix—selections from the Archivists, Curators, and Historians.
A few themes emerged, including photographs of Members playing sports and exercising. From baseball games and boxing to working out in the early House gym, these photographs illustrate congressional life outside the Chamber. One #StaffPix features the impressive leapfrogging skills of cheerleaders at the Congressional Baseball Game.
#StaffPix also highlighted photographs of the Capitol taken from unusual angles, while others featured Representatives in a different light. One choice shows the fire department hosing down the Capitol's East Front in 1910. One pick captures a moody view taken during the first snow of 1923, as seen through the Capitol columns. Another shows the House Chamber: Usually immaculate, the Chamber looks striking in its chaotic appearance one morning after the close of a session, like the aftermath of a ticker-tape parade.
Different sides of Members include a cozy snapshot of Arthur Mitchell and his wife, Percy Gassaway riding a horse to work, Speaker John Nance Garner displaying his catch of fish, and Edith Nourse Rogers showing off her aviation skills.
Some History, Art & Archives staff faves take viewers behind the scenes of life in the House. One Archives selection captures the discovery of House records in the Capitol’s attic—124 years after the documents were thought to have been burned by the British. The quest to find and preserve historic House records continues to resonate with archival staff.
Curatorial favorites show how objects have moved around House spaces. One stereoview shows a painting that hung only briefly in the House Chamber. Another stereoview documents the Speaker’s Room with furniture and artwork that are still in the House Collection, plus a sculpture that soon relocated. A different Curatorial favorite shows the painting Peace (The White Squadron in Boston Harbor) displayed in the Naval Affairs Committee room in 1919.
Photographs provide visual information and evidence for historians, illuminating research projects. One favorite photograph of the History staff encapsulates Women in Congress, a publication of the Historian’s office. Another Historian #StaffPix documents a 1932 Bonus Army protest at the Capitol. A final image from the House Collection depicts President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1935 annual message—and the story behind it appears in an oral history.