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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 29 results

“Somebody Was Going to Be the First”

During the 1970s, amid the women’s liberation movement, women across the country fought for equal rights and for a louder voice in the decision-making process on a wide range of domestic and international issues. Capitol Hill also became more diverse, as women of color—Members and staff alike—won election to and took jobs in the House, changing a powerful workplace which had been dominated by White men since its inception.
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The Man Who Kept Opening Doors Until He Became the Doorkeeper

A self-proclaimed “political creature,” James T. “Jim” Molloy left an enduring mark on the Capitol during his decades in Washington. Using a unique blend of scrappiness, charm, and his deep roots in New York state politics, Molloy created a network of allies who vaulted him to one of the most influential staff positions on the Hill. After little more than five years working for the House, he won a prized appointment as the House Doorkeeper by ousting a longtime incumbent. Molloy assumed office, he recalled, feeling “like a kid in a candy store,” perfectly at home in a position that seemed made for the affable South Buffalo native.
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Edition for Educators—September 11, 2001

As the worst terrorist attack in United States history unfolded on the morning of September 11, 2001, federal officials, lawmakers, and congressional staff took unprecedented steps to maintain government operations and protect the House of Representatives and the people on the Capitol campus. In this Edition for Educators, we look back on the day and its aftermath 20 years later.
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We’ve Redesigned Our Oral History Section

In August 2020, we launched the redesigned Oral History section of the website. The new design makes it easier to browse all interviewees, filter by their positions and service dates, and access all available full transcripts in PDF format. The highlight of the redesign is a searchable database of oral history audio and video clips. Users can use a free text search and filter clips by events, themes, or interview subjects.
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Categories: Announcements

“I’m Not Going to Waste It”

From February 1959 to June 1961, James Johnson attended the Capitol Page School, a one-of-a-kind learning environment for high schoolers working for the House, Senate, and Supreme Court. Johnson was one of the first African-American students admitted to the school, but because of a mix-up—the details of which remain unclear even today—he never received an official appointment as a Page like the rest of his classmates. But Johnson credits his experience at the Page School and working for the House for setting him on the path to a distinguished medical career with the U.S. Navy.
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Edition for Educators — House History for Remote Learning

With schools closed amid the pandemic, the Offices of History, Art & Archives have put together lesson plans and resources to help everyone continue to learn about history of the House of Representatives and what role it plays in America’s unique system of government.
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Categories: Edition for Educators

“I Do Hope You Can See Me Today”

About 20 minutes before noon, on Thursday, May 16, 1991, Members and Senators packed the House Chamber for a historic Joint Meeting of Congress. A small platform had been placed on the middle level of the rostrum, hidden from view, and a straight-backed chair a few feet over had been specially reserved. At the rostrum’s microphone stood a bespectacled woman in a peach-colored hat.
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Categories: Practice & Customs

“How Does She Do This?”: Mothers in Congress

To commemorate the centennial of the election of the first woman to Congress, Jeannette Rankin of Montana, the Office of the Historian conducted interviews with former women Members and staff. The interviews covered a range of topics, including a growing phenomenon—the election of women with young children. By 1998, more than 20 percent of women Members came to Congress with children under the age of 18.
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“Who Do You Represent?”

In 1971 the 13 African-American Members of the U.S. House of Representatives founded the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), declaring their intention to reshape policy, legislation, and the nature of representation on Capitol Hill. For the first time, black Members worked together to draft an agenda for African-American communities across the nation.
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Dreams Can Come True

Clerk Donnald K. Anderson’s 35-year career in the U.S. House began somewhat improbably before he was even old enough to vote.
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Obstacles and Opportunities: The Experiences of Two Women Members on the Campaign Trail

Since the 1970s, women candidates running for Congress have increasingly carved out more opportunities and built new coalitions. The Office of the Historian conducted interviews with several former women Members who traveled distinct routes to Capitol Hill. Two seemingly disparate stories from the early 1990s highlight how far women candidates have come since Rankin first won election more than 100 years ago.
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House Pages Shoulder the Weight of History: The Story Behind an Iconic Image

Sixty-five years ago, four members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party opened fire on the House Chamber from the visitors’ gallery, wounding five Members, and causing mayhem across the Capitol. In the midst of the terror, others on the floor responded by assisting those wounded in the attack. Photographs snapped in the aftermath captured these efforts, including an iconic image of three young House Pages carrying a wounded Member down the steps of the Capitol. Perhaps more than any other image, that photo came to embody both the violence and the solemnity of the day.
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