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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 42 results

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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A Congressional Made Man

Print of the House Chamber in 1836
In the winter of 1842, inventor Samuel F. B. Morse nervously wrote to his brother Sidney Morse from Washington, DC. Morse hoped that the House of Representatives would appropriate $30,000 “to test the practicability of establishing a system of electro magnetic telegraphs.”
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Categories: Superlatives, Committees, Art

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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Engraving the Phoenix

1907 Print of African-American Members
On a sheet the size of a small poster, 22 politicians’ portraits crowd the image, titled “Colored Men Who Have Served in the Congress of the United States.” The worn print recalls the decades following the Civil War, when African Americans came to Congress to represent their fellow Southerners in the national legislature. And more than a memory, it testifies to the persistence of hope during Jim Crow–era political violence and disenfranchisement.
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Written in Stone

Champ Clark and Bust
Two Champ Clarks stand side by side. The Speaker on the right is a near-perfect replica of the Speaker on the left—except for his ghostly white pallor and his abrupt ending below the chest.
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Young Americans

John McKee Portrait
Between 1800 and 1830, more than 1,200 Americans served in Congress. Four early portraits show the wide variety of lawmakers in the young nation.
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Categories: Members of Congress, Art

A Great Disaster

Homecoming–Kaw Valley Lithograph
In October 1951, every Member of the House of Representatives and the Senate received an unusual petition in the mail from an artist named Thomas Hart Benton.
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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

"The Battle of the Portraits"

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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Arcaded Street

Hannah, Apple Seller in the Capitol
You could buy a coffin, a deer skin, or a slice of pie as you strolled the Capitol 150 years ago. “It is a grand, vaulted, arcaded street,” one visitor enthused, “and during the session filled with a jostling, hurrying throng.”
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Categories: Capitol Campus, Art, Artifacts

Suffragette City

Victoria Woodhull Testifying Before a House Committee
The notorious Victoria Woodhull, spiritualist, stockbroker, and presidential candidate, testified on women’s suffrage before a House committee in January 1871. When her image appeared in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, she became the subject of the first known image of a House committee hearing.
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Old D.C. from Above

Aerial View of Capitol Hill, Facing North
Taken from hot-air balloons, airplanes, kites, blimps, and tall buildings, early aerial views brought a futuristic new perspective of Washington, D.C., to the public.
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