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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 25–36 of 44 results

Before the Flag

Workers affix the flag in the House Chamber
In 1929, the Capitol celebrated Flag Day with the United States Flag Association rolling out the (allegedly) largest flag in the world on the West Front, accompanied by an amplified, patriotic program. But what about the normal-sized, everyday flags in the Chamber? One might assume that its current spot— front and center, behind the Speaker on the rostrum—was always the case. However, there is no official protocol on flag display, so we turn to images from the House Collection to piece together the history of the flag in the House Chamber.
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Categories: House Chamber, Photographs, Art

Lawn and Order

Seven workers lowered their scythes and posed for a picture outside the Capitol. In the 19th century, a well-manicured lawn symbolized stability and righteousness—exactly the image of the nation that Congress wanted to project. But it took a lot of work to keep the Capitol’s grounds photo ready. It was a real case of lawn versus order.
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Categories: Capitol Campus, Art, Artifacts

Esther and Ellen

In 1910, two women artists doubled the number of paintings by women in the House of Representatives. One, Ellen Day Hale, was highly accomplished, and the other, Esther Edmonds, was an emerging talent at the start of her career.
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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

What's in the Speaker's Office?

Increased space, more frequent visits by foreign dignitaries, and the demand for news photos spurred development of what is today known as the Speaker’s Ceremonial Office. The room was part of the 1857 Capitol extension and is furnished to suit the Victorian style with pieces from the House Collection.
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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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The Artist Formerly Known as Fox

At 10 different portrait unveilings on Capitol Hill, a man named Charles J. Fox was praised as the artist who captured the sitter’s likeness. In fact, Fox was not an artist. His name wasn't even Charles. The real creator was someone else entirely.
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Categories: Practice & Customs, Art

Party Like It's 1732

Landmark birthdays are a big deal, and for George Washington’s 200th, a master party planner was necessary. The House’s own Rep. Sol Bloom applied his talents to the task, coordinating a cross-country series of events—and some interesting souvenirs—throughout 1932.


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Sketchy Job Interview

When Constantino Brumidi first arrived at the United States Capitol, he made this sketch. It was his job application to paint the capitol's frescoes. Brumidi ultimately decorated much of the Capitol's interior. And this little painting is where it all began.
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Categories: Capitol Campus, Art

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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Lobbying in the Lobby

Buttonholing Members of Congress to tell them how you think they should vote—that’s as old as the republic itself. But calling it “lobbying”? Where does that come from?
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A Tale of Two Vases

Sevres Vase blooms
Once upon a time, in 1918, the U.S. House of Representatives received a gift of two porcelain vases. They were exquisite. Commanding attention, standing nearly six feet tall, the attractive vessels were a gesture from France expressing gratitude for America’s role in World War I.
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Categories: Practice & Customs, Art