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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 163 results

Edition for Educators—The House Chamber

Since 1789, the House of Representatives has met in a number of locations. But regardless of the setting, the House Chamber has always been a storied space. Since the House first met in closing years of the eighteenth century, thousands of men and women from all corners of the country have filled its seats to debate legislation and shape the rhythms of American life. Today, the modern House Chamber, which first opened in 1857, can often seem to be two things at once: intimidating but also welcoming, imposing but also familiar. This Edition for Educators highlights the spaces which have served as the meeting place for the People’s House.
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Experience, Wisdom, Knowledge . . . Before Twenty-Five

In July 1797, a young southern judge named William Charles Cole Claiborne penned an enthusiastic letter to one of his political mentors, then-Representative Andrew Jackson of Tennessee. Claiborne had his eyes set on serving in Congress. With only two months until the general election in October, and with Jackson leaving for the Senate, Claiborne was eager to win election to Jackson’s soon-to-be vacant seat in the House of Representatives. There was, however, one potentially very large problem: Claiborne was not more than 22 years old.
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Guts, Stamina, Audacity: Shirley Chisholm’s House Career

Fifty years ago this month, Shirley Chisholm, the charismatic and outspoken Brooklyn educator and politician, made history when she became the first African-American woman to serve in Congress. Small in stature, but with a larger-than-life persona, “Fighting Shirley” was a tireless advocate for her constituents, quotable and stylish and unyielding. Chisholm encapsulated the resolve of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and brought national attention to the issues she championed.
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Best of the Blog in 2018

The year 2018 wasn’t just about a midterm election for the Offices of History, Art & Archives. We introduced a lot of content throughout the year, including 43 blogs! Here’s a few of our favorites from the past year.
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Categories: Announcements

Sick Days

Shortly after noon on Friday, October 11, 1918, Martin D. Foster of Illinois anxiously asked for permission to speak on the floor. The six-term Congressman, who’d been a small-town doctor in down-state Illinois, was still digesting the latest grim reports about the rapid spread of the lethal Spanish influenza outbreak. What Foster had read alarmed him.
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Categories: Legislation

Edition for Educators—Following the Rules

The U.S. House of Representatives is governed by an ever-expanding matrix of rules and precedents, procedural compass points that have been accumulating every year since the very first Congress in 1789. The Constitution says little about the internal governing structure of the House other than that it “may determine the Rules of its Proceedings.” That vague allowance enables the House to create and maintain both its legislative processes and rules guiding the personal behavior of its Members.
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“Planting Laws and Institutions”: The Election of Representative John Quincy Adams

On November 6, 1830, former United States President John Quincy Adams spent the day at his family’s farm near Quincy, Massachusetts, planting trees. On the edge of what would become the orchard, he laid out five rows of chestnuts, oaks, and shagbark hickories. The final, casual line in Adams’s diary that day: “I am a member elect of the twenty-second Congress.”
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Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

In the summer of 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed into law an act that expanded Hispanic Heritage Week, first created by Congress in 1968, into Hispanic Heritage Month. Sponsored by California Representative Esteban Torres and Illinois Senator Paul Simon, the new law created an annual month-long celebration of Hispanic-American culture and history.
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Edition for Educators—Presidency and the House

This Edition for Educators highlights the Presidency and its complicated relationship with the House of Representatives.
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We’ve Re-launched Our Blog

When we launched our blog in late 2012, a new world of storytelling opened. For the last six years, the historians, curators, and archivists at the U.S. House of Representatives have discovered and documented an eclectic mix of people, events, records, and artifacts that have helped reveal how the House has evolved over the last 229 years. This summer, after having published nearly 300 entries to our blog since 2012, we’ve given it an overhaul.
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Categories: Announcements

Edition for Educators—Congressional Zoo

The House of Representatives is no stranger to mankind’s four-legged friends in the animal kingdom. Whether considering legislation that affects the wildlife of the nation or simply posing alongside a beloved pet, there is often a zoological presence on the Hill. This Edition for Educators focuses on all things animal in Congress.
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Categories: Edition for Educators

Jeannette Rankin for Senate

Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana earned a permanent place in U.S. history by becoming the first woman elected to Congress. She served two non-consecutive terms and became the only person to vote against America’s entry into both World War I in 1917 and World War II in 1941. Her political career ended with her lone vote against war on December 8, 1941, as the U.S. Pacific Fleet burned at Pearl Harbor.
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