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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 83 results

What Does “Civilization” Look Like?

Detail of Harper's Weekly Cover
Reconstruction Era illustrations from Harper’s Weekly both showed and told their audience about new civil rights laws and gave them a graphic sense of changes in America.
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How Congress Helped Feed, then Kill, the Postcard Craze

July 4th Postcard
In 1896, Congress fueled a postcard craze, completely by accident, when it introduced Rural Free Delivery of mail. A little more than a decade later, Congress kneecapped the phenomenon, again inadvertently. Representatives hoped the Payne-Aldrich Tariff of 1909 would help American printers cash in on postcards’ popularity. Instead, it ended up hurting the industry and undercutting the entire fad.
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Categories: Artifacts

Stamp of Genius

Postage Stamps Featuring Shirley Chisholm
Shirley Chisholm forever. (“Forever” stamp, that is.)
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Categories: Artifacts

Engraving the Phoenix

1907 Print of African-American Members
On a sheet the size of a small poster, 22 politicians’ portraits crowd the image, titled “Colored Men Who Have Served in the Congress of the United States.” The worn print recalls the decades following the Civil War, when African Americans came to Congress to represent their fellow Southerners in the national legislature. And more than a memory, it testifies to the persistence of hope during Jim Crow–era political violence and disenfranchisement.
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Floor of the Floor

Installing New Carpet in 1938
Carpets have played an important role in interior design for both private and public buildings. Over two centuries, flooring decisions in the House have swung back and forth between form (symbolism, aesthetics, and glamour) and function (practicality, cost, and durability).
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East from the Capitol

Looking East from the Capitol Stereoview
Photographers hauled their equipment to the top of the Capitol's giant new cast-iron dome and captured the city as it transformed from Civil War chaos to Gilded Age glamour. This 1875 image showed a city that still looked something less than glamorous.
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Categories: Capitol Campus, Artifacts

A Capital Game

Lobby: A Capital Game Board
“Here’s your chance to be a Congressman!” an advertisement read. In 1949, Milton Bradley introduced Lobby: A Capital Game, a board game meant to be both educational and fun. However, legislation and lobbying may not have been quite as entertaining as the toymaker expected.
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Young Americans

John McKee Portrait
Between 1800 and 1830, more than 1,200 Americans served in Congress. Four early portraits show the wide variety of lawmakers in the young nation.
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Categories: Members of Congress, Art

West from the Capitol

West from the Capitol Stereoview
This 1868 image shows the view looking west from the Capitol. The vista takes in both the exhausted postwar city and the growing evidence of a proud, international capital.
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Categories: Capitol Campus, Artifacts

Welcome to the Hotel Congressional

Hotel Congressional Matchbook
How the Hotel Congressional went from a sleek, modern hotel to a dowdy House workspace to a parking lot, and later, the O'Neill House Office Building, is a tale of the changing nature of congressional work.
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Hanging on Every Word

La Salle Stenotype Machine
When the House is in session, official reporters record every word.
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Cloaked in Secrecy

Republican Cloakroom Telephone Message Note
The House Cloakrooms are simple, comfortable waystations where Members can wait between votes, escape for a snack, or conduct business with other Members.
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