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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 104 results

Congressional Eagles

Edith Nourse Rogers
In the early 1920s, one Member of Congress flipped and looped over the Capitol in a biplane. But after famous pilot Charles Lindbergh took Representatives up for a ride in 1928, aviation soared in the Washington imagination.
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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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House-Brewed Home Brew

John Philip Hill and Guests at the Franklin Farms Party
Representative John Philip Hill tried very hard to get arrested by the Commissioner of Prohibition.
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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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Slam Dunk: Doughnuts and the House

Dunking a Doughnut into Coffee
Doughnuts have long been a favorite Washington breakfast. Crullers cooked up debate both on and off the House Floor.
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The Cowboy of Congress

Percy Gassaway
The Congressman stuck both index fingers down into his cowboy boot and yanked it up under his pant leg, getting ready for another day at the office.
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"The Battle of the Portraits"

Four Portraits of Speaker Henry Rainey
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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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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The Famous Umbrella of Ernest Ackerman

Ernest Ackerman with Umbrella
Ernest Ackerman stood outside on a staircase. A black umbrella, clasped in his right hand and leaning against his shoulder, unfurled behind him. But, as you might notice, it wasn’t raining.
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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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Unbought and Unbossed

Shirley Chisholm
Trailblazer, committee member, presidential candidate. Photographs from the House Collection show the path of Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman in Congress.
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The Search for Common Ground

In the span of five months during the winter and spring of 1962 two major entrenched powers faced off in an obstinate battle of wills. This wasn’t a traditional war, but more of a smoldering, protracted conflict between long-time rivals with competing interests. Territory was contested. Stakes escalated. Worldviews were challenged. Catastrophe beckoned. And all the while, the ability of the federal government to function hung in the balance.
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