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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 97 results

Edition for Educators—The House Collection

Anthony John (Toby) Moffett Jr. Poster
Home to more than 13,000 artifacts and works of art, the House Collection encompasses the institution’s history. This Edition for Educators highlights pieces that reflect the relationship between material culture and the history of the nation’s legislature.
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Space Oddity

Don Fuqua
Five paintings in the House Collection show how Science Committee chairs shared national enthusiasm for extraterrestrial exploration and embedded allusions to America’s space program in their portraits.
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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 Superhero Style of Robert Smalls

Drawings of Robert Smalls from Golden Legacy
A dramatic backstory helped to launch Robert Smalls’s congressional career in the 1870s. A century later, the daring ship captain and Civil War hero’s story reappeared in the public eye as the subject of a volume of Golden Legacy, a comic book format Black history series for children.
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Starring Hazel Scott as Herself

Hazel Scott and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. on the Cover of Jet
Civil rights, Congress, and the performances of jazz pianist Hazel Scott coincided in the late 1940s and early 1950s. “I’ve been brash all my life, and it’s gotten me into a lot of trouble,” Scott said. “But at the same time, speaking out has sustained me and given meaning to my life.”
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The Parliamentarian’s Scrapbook

Detail View of the Parliamentarian's Scrapbook
The Parliamentarian's index finger rests on one precise spot in his scrapbook of precedents—the important reference file of a man known for his influence.
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How Gallery Tickets Were Born

Gallery Visitors
On February 21, 1868, a one-sentence resolution in the House of Representatives brought thousands running to the Capitol: “That Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, be impeached of high crimes and misdemeanors.” Alongside the national consequences of impeachment, massive public interest caused a smaller development: the introduction of gallery passes.
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Palm Reading

Errett Scrivner Palm Card Detail
A palm card is possibly the simplest piece of congressional campaign literature: a single piece of cardstock containing information about a candidate. In scores of congressional races from 1900 to 1960, palm cards were also the smallest pieces of literature in a campaign’s toolbox.
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The Fallout

Medical Kit C
In 2015, House curators carefully unpacked water purification tablets, surgical soap, gauze pads, and a toothache remedy from Medical Kit C. The large cardboard box and the basic medical supplies it contained are artifacts of Cold War–era Washington, when the threat of nuclear attack hung over the country, and officials stockpiled emergency food, water, and medicine across the Capitol complex.
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Where the Seats Have No Name

New Seats in 1913
The year 1913 dawned with a conundrum. There were 401 desks and chairs in the crowded House Chamber and 440 people who needed a seat when Congress convened in the spring. How could each Member of Congress claim a chair?
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Capitol Art & Artifacts: Girandole

Girandole
In a quiet corner of today’s Speaker’s Ceremonial Office hangs a girandole mirror. When candles are lit, light bounces off the mirror. The House’s girandole dates from the first half of the 19th century and boasts a Capitol provenance from its association with an early Clerk of the House of Representatives.
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