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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 49–60 of 89 results

"The Battle of the Portraits"

Newspapers called it “the battle of the portraits.” As many as 16 artists entered the fray of the late Speaker Henry Rainey’s official portrait commission, a tradition in the House of Representatives.
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Becoming the Board of Education

Nicholas Longworth and John Garner
Board of Education. Doghouse. Cabinet Room. Sanctum sanctorum. Or, as Speaker Sam Rayburn modestly called his tiny hideaway where informal legislating happened, “the little room.”
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Campaign Ink Blotters

Before the age of the ballpoint pen, Americans wrote their documents with fountain pens dipped in ink. Blotters soaked up the excess ink, and were a popular campaign object for decades, from their invention in the late 19th century until ballpoint pens hit the market after World War II, shoving fountain pens off the desktop by 1960.
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Suffragette City

Victoria Woodhull Testifying Before a House Committee
The notorious Victoria Woodhull, spiritualist, stockbroker, and presidential candidate, testified on women’s suffrage before a House committee in January 1871. When her image appeared in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, she became the subject of the first known image of a House committee hearing.
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Veteran-Artists in the House Collection

Two artists’ paths were different, but their careers converged in unlikely places—World War II combat and House committee hearing rooms. William Draper and Brummett Echohawk both served in the military during the war, and later completed chairman portraits for the House of Representatives. In honor of Veterans Day, we present their stories.
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Categories: Art, War

John Marshall, One of a Kind?

Chief Justice John Marshall, the man who single-handedly shaped the constitutional role of the judicial branch of the U.S. government, was one of a kind. But his portrait in the U.S. Capitol? Not so much. The imposing painting, more than 10 feet tall, is based on an earlier Marshall portrait. It’s a painted copy. A copy of a copy of a copy, in fact.

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Categories: Members of Congress, Art

Sit and Stay for a Portrait

A Capitol dome, an American flag, and a “part bichon frise and part some other things?” Such symbols of leadership and personality occupy prominent positions in House committee chairman portraits.

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Rolling Billboards

It started simply enough, a hundred years ago. Americans bought cars. Americans loved cars. And Americans loved politics. So, it seemed almost inevitable that automobiles became rolling billboards for their owners’ favorite candidates. Representatives cheerfully provided different auto accessories, which became a favorite method for taking the campaign on the road.

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The House Gets a Used Ford

On any given June day, summertime tourists visit their Representatives in the three House Office Buildings near the Capitol. But off the beaten path, at the foot of Capitol Hill, another House Office Building stands in relative obscurity. This is the story of the Ford House Office Building, an old structure that got a new lease on life, becoming the House’s own used Ford.

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"The Most Gallant Lady from Massachusetts"

Edith Nourse Rogers’s Committee on Veterans’ Affairs chairman portrait was unveiled on July 27, 1950. Rogers was exceptional in many ways, she was only the second woman—after her colleague Mary Norton of New Jersey—to have a chairman portrait hung in the House.
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The “Mayor of Washington” and the Unexpected Portrait

The story of Representative Mary Norton’s portrait commemorating her stint as “Mayor of Washington” reflects Norton’s guiding ethos throughout her career. Commissioned by a group of notables from the District, and painted by local artist Elaine Hartley, the Norton portrait was executed in a spirit of community in appreciation, and in support of a fellow professional woman.
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The Many Depictions of Thomas Brackett Reed

On October 18th we wished Thomas Brackett Reed, accomplished and admired three-time Speaker of the House of Representatives, a happy 177th birthday!
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Categories: Speakers of the House, Art