Whereas: Stories from the People’s House

This month’s Edition for Educators celebrates Women’s History Month by turning the focus to the many women who have chaired committees in the U.S. House of Representatives. Today, a record seven women chair House committees in the 116th Congress (2019–2021), and many more chair subcommittees responsible for significant sections of legislation and oversight.

Jet and Ebony and Yvonne Burke

Jet and Ebony and Yvonne Burke

Yvonne Brathwaite Burke was a rising star in national politics when she arrived in the House in 1973. Mainstream media, however, rarely covered any African-American or female legislator in depth. One exception was the Black media empire founded by Jack Johnson, with the influential Ebony and Jet magazines at its center.
Sarah Seelye lived a seemingly ordinary life in Fort Scott, Kansas, in 1882. But as her health started to falter at age 43, she realized past adventures were catching up to her. Getting help meant revealing a decades-old secret to Congress: she illegally served in the Union army disguised as a man.
To commemorate the centennial of the election of the first woman to Congress, Jeannette Rankin of Montana, the Office of the Historian conducted interviews with former women Members and staff. The interviews covered a range of topics, including a growing phenomenon—the election of women with young children. By 1998, more than 20 percent of women Members came to Congress with children under the age of 18.
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Bums, Beatniks, and Birds: The House Responds to Anti-Vietnam War Protests

Setting draft cards on fire may have sparked outrage on Capitol Hill in 1965, but within a matter of years a new generation of lawmakers offered a far more sympathetic audience.

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Categories: Legislation, Committees, War

The Fight for Fair Housing in the House—Part I:
A “Long, Tortuous and Difficult Road”

Following the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson, in his 1966 State of the Union Address, called for additional legislation to “prohibit racial discrimination in the sale or rental of housing.” Over the next two years, Johnson’s new housing measure—known as the Fair Housing Act—traveled what he called a “long, tortuous and difficult road,” exposing the limits of his Great Society agenda and forcing Congress to consider more expansive civil rights protections.

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Learn Something New Every Day

Budget Bank
A tin bank, model voting machine, coloring book, and board game are included in the House Collection. While some are toys meant for children and others are aids for lifelong learners, all have congressional themes. In addition to their primary use, they also communicate the importance of civic engagement and the functions of Congress.

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Categories: Elections, Artifacts

Bathing the Capitol

Firefighters Hose Down the Capitol in 1910
In November 1899, Washington, DC, loaned the Architect of the Capitol a fire engine, along with its firemen, for a special task: to give the Capitol a bath. As House Collection photographs show, the custom continued for more than 60 years.

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The First Resource

Debuting the week of November 9, 1998, the Online Biographical Directory of the United States Congress combined three key components to help users discover more about every Member of Congress: biographical information, the location and scope of known research collections, and a list of published material in a bibliography. Now the “Bioguide” is entering the 21st Century at long last.

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Categories: Announcements