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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 73–84 of 89 results

Tie a Yellow Ribbon

Tony Orlando—the force behind a House tradition? The inspiration for the tradition was not his harmonious backup singers or his luxuriant mustache, but his 1973 hit recording, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree.” From those pop music origins grew the tradition of wearing a colored ribbon to mark major events, a practice that was taken up by the House during joint sessions and meetings of Congress.
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To Be a Gallery God

“To be a gallery god in the House of Representatives is to have a free seat at a unique performance.” So said one newspaper, and for two centuries Americans have agreed, with gusto. The House Collection contains some of the oldest (and newest) varieties of gallery tickets, from scribbled passes to high-tech printed ones.
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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

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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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

Veteran-Artists in the House Collection—Part II

Fort Snelling, Minnesota
For our second blog post highlighting military veteran-artists in the House Collection of Art and Artifacts, we look back to the 19th century, at the careers of two Civil War soldiers.
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Categories: Capitol Campus, Committees, Art, War

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

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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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

What Did You #AskACurator?

What item in the House Collection looks like it came straight out of a horror film? Inquiring minds wanted to know and they got their answer on #AskACurator Day.
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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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What Killed the Political Ribbon?

Ribbons that declared "The Winner." Ribbons for the "Peter J. Dooling Association." Ribbons mourning a dead Speaker of the House. Once, they were all the rage. Then, in the 1890s, a single innovation changed everything. Political ribbons went from reigning supreme as the most portable, wearable, and popular campaign decoration to being a deposed monarch of politicking, exiled to conventions and party dinners. What happened?
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Categories: Elections, Artifacts