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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 85 results

Vent Elation

Cooler Summers
“No good legislation comes out of Washington after June.” Speaker of the House John Nance Garner spent 30 years in Congress, and he knew to get out of town ahead of the wilting summer weather. Washington in July and August is a desperately swampy place. Then one day in 1928, “manufactured weather” arrived in the House of Representatives’ Chamber.
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Inside the Chamber on Opening Day

Every two years, as mandated in Article I, Section 2, of the Constitution, the U.S. House of Representatives starts a new legislative session, known as a Congress. Using longstanding precedent and a few highly visible artifacts, the House embarks on the pomp and ritual of its biennial Opening Day.

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A Proper Symbol of Office

The Mace of the House of Representatives
Wherever and whenever the U.S. House of Representatives meets, this historic artifact is there.
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Before the Flag

Workers affix the flag in the House Chamber
In 1929, the Capitol celebrated Flag Day with the United States Flag Association rolling out the (allegedly) largest flag in the world on the West Front, accompanied by an amplified, patriotic program. But what about the normal-sized, everyday flags in the Chamber? One might assume that its current spot— front and center, behind the Speaker on the rostrum—was always the case. However, there is no official protocol on flag display, so we turn to images from the House Collection to piece together the history of the flag in the House Chamber.
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Categories: House Chamber, Photographs, Art

Esther and Ellen

In 1910, two women artists doubled the number of paintings by women in the House of Representatives. One, Ellen Day Hale, was highly accomplished, and the other, Esther Edmonds, was an emerging talent at the start of her career.
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Washington, Schlepped Here

This familiar portrait of George Washington hangs in the Rayburn Room of the Capitol. Its location seems to make perfect sense: the capital city bears Washington’s name, he laid the building’s cornerstone, and his likeness is repeated hundreds of times around the city. Nonetheless, the Capitol was never intended to be this painting’s home.
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Categories: Presidents, Art

Party Like It's 1732

Landmark birthdays are a big deal, and for George Washington’s 200th, a master party planner was necessary. The House’s own Rep. Sol Bloom applied his talents to the task, coordinating a cross-country series of events—and some interesting souvenirs—throughout 1932.


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George Washington’s Bling

The oldest object in the House Collection is also one of the smallest. It’s less than an inch across, but the man who owned it was a giant figure in American history.
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Categories: Presidents, Artifacts

Stamp of Genius

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

A Great Disaster

Homecoming–Kaw Valley Lithograph
In October 1951, every Member of the House of Representatives and the Senate received an unusual petition in the mail from an artist named Thomas Hart Benton.
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Arcaded Street

Hannah, Apple Seller in the Capitol
You could buy a coffin, a deer skin, or a slice of pie as you strolled the Capitol 150 years ago. “It is a grand, vaulted, arcaded street,” one visitor enthused, “and during the session filled with a jostling, hurrying throng.”
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Categories: Capitol Campus, Art, Artifacts

Trading on the Capitol

The first trademark granted in the United States used an American eagle, and into the 21st century, marketing textbooks recommended using the Capitol to give products “borrowed interest” from patriotic consumers. Ambitious soap makers in the late 1800s used the iconic U.S. Capitol to give their wares a patriotic shine.

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Categories: Capitol Campus, Artifacts