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“The House of Representatives, in some respects, I think, is the most peculiar assemblage in the world,” Speaker Joe Cannon of Illinois once observed. Behind the legislation and procedure, House Members and staff have produced their own institutional history and heritage. Our blog, Whereas: Stories from the People’s House, tells their stories.

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Displaying 1–12 of 326 results

“Why Not Have it Constitutionally?”: Race, Gender, and the Nineteenth Amendment

On May 21, 1919, Representative James Mann of Illinois, the bespectacled, gray-bearded, 62-year-old former Republican Leader, made an announcement from the House Floor, cementing a change in American history that had been building for decades. “I call up House joint resolution No. 1, proposing an amendment to the Constitution extending the right of suffrage to women,” he said, “and ask that the resolution be reported.”
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Edition for Educators—Celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2019

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. In celebration, this Edition for Educators highlights some of the many stories published in Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Congress, 1900–2017, one of the Office of the Historian’s most recent publications (and online exhibits) which provides an overview of the diverse stories of APA Members and their constituents in the years since Hawaiian Delegate Robert Wilcox first won election to the U.S. House of Representatives. The story of Asian Pacific Americans in Congress can also be found across our website in other stories, artifacts, and House records.
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Railroaded to Congress

“East and West Shaking Hands at the Laying of the Last Rail” Photograph
Grenville Dodge loathed being on Capitol Hill. He much preferred exploring the western wilderness, scoping out the path of the transcontinental railroad. No oath of office could keep him from it.
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Front and Center

Rostrum in the House Chamber
The Speaker’s rostrum announces its importance visually. Framed with walls of multicolored marble, columns, symbolic relief sculptures, and a big American flag, it is located front-and-center in the House Chamber.
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Edition for Educators—The Capitol Campus

Today, the federal legislative branch spreads over five House office buildings, three Senate office buildings, three Library of Congress buildings, and the Capitol itself. This Edition for Educators highlights the Capitol campus and the District of Columbia.
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The Apportionment Act of 1842: “In All Cases, By District”

In April 1842, the United States House of Representatives began what could arguably be called the first reorganization process—the first spring cleaning, as it were—in Congress’ history. The size of the House had increased steadily since 1789, and as required by the Constitution it had adjusted its Membership every 10 years following the Census in a process called reapportionment. In a decision that shaped the makeup of the House for decades, Congress broke with 50 years of precedent to make two dramatic and substantial changes: it shrunk the size of the House for the first time in U.S. history, and standardized what we would recognize as the modern congressional district.
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Categories: Legislation, Elections

If These Walls Could Talk

Bowler Hat before and after Conservation Composite Image
A major renovation of the Cannon House Office Building began in late 2014, uncovering some surprises. Artifacts pulled from the trenches and walls of the building during the restoration tell the story of the structure and its workers.
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Edition for Educators—Celebrating Women’s History Month 2019

To celebrate Women’s History Month, this Edition for Educators blog focuses on content we’ve added to the History, Art & Archives website within the last year alongside new images the office has acquired. This year, we’ve compiled a few of the new oral histories, blogs, digitized images, and updated statistics for the 116th Congress (2019–2021) to feature below. In preparation for next year’s anniversary, the office has also added a new House Record to commemorate the 19th Amendment granting women’s suffrage.
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Do Me a Favor

Detail of a letter from Theodore Roosevelt to Joe Cannon
In 1994, an Appropriations Committee staffer discovered an old wooden trunk tucked away in the attic of the Cannon House Office Building. The trunk, it turned out, contained letters older than the building itself and belonged to none other than the powerful Speaker of the House, Joe Cannon.
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Obstacles and Opportunities: The Experiences of Two Women Members on the Campaign Trail

Since the 1970s, women candidates running for Congress have increasingly carved out more opportunities and built new coalitions. The Office of the Historian conducted interviews with several former women Members who traveled distinct routes to Capitol Hill. Two seemingly disparate stories from the early 1990s highlight how far women candidates have come since Rankin first won election more than 100 years ago.
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House Pages Shoulder the Weight of History: The Story Behind an Iconic Image

Sixty-five years ago, four members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party opened fire on the House Chamber from the visitors’ gallery, wounding five Members, and causing mayhem across the Capitol. In the midst of the terror, others on the floor responded by assisting those wounded in the attack. Photographs snapped in the aftermath captured these efforts, including an iconic image of three young House Pages carrying a wounded Member down the steps of the Capitol. Perhaps more than any other image, that photo came to embody both the violence and the solemnity of the day.
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The Last Hours of John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams Box Sofa
Representative John Quincy Adams knew he was nearing the end of his career. However, he likely did not suspect that his last hours in the Capitol would become a national media event, driven by brand-new technologies and nostalgia for the past that Adams represented.
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