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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 56 results

Notes from Underground, Part II: The Rayburn Subway

Bud Shuster and Jack Schenendorf Riding the Rayburn Subway
When the dust settled after construction of the first House and Senate Office Buildings, only the Senate had a subway line. Representatives had to wait—and walk—until the Rayburn House Office Building opened in 1965.
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How Congress Helped Feed, then Kill, the Postcard Craze

July 4th Postcard
In 1896, Congress fueled a postcard craze, completely by accident, when it introduced Rural Free Delivery of mail. A little more than a decade later, Congress kneecapped the phenomenon, again inadvertently. Representatives hoped the Payne-Aldrich Tariff of 1909 would help American printers cash in on postcards’ popularity. Instead, it ended up hurting the industry and undercutting the entire fad.
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Categories: Artifacts

Stamp of Genius

Postage Stamps Featuring Shirley Chisholm
Shirley Chisholm forever. (“Forever” stamp, that is.)
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Categories: Artifacts

Floor of the Floor

Installing New Carpet in 1938
Carpets have played an important role in interior design for both private and public buildings. Over two centuries, flooring decisions in the House have swung back and forth between form (symbolism, aesthetics, and glamour) and function (practicality, cost, and durability).
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East from the Capitol

Looking East from the Capitol Stereoview
Photographers hauled their equipment to the top of the Capitol's giant new cast-iron dome and captured the city as it transformed from Civil War chaos to Gilded Age glamour. This 1875 image showed a city that still looked something less than glamorous.
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Categories: Capitol Campus, Artifacts

A Capital Game

Lobby: A Capital Game Board
“Here’s your chance to be a Congressman!” an advertisement read. In 1949, Milton Bradley introduced Lobby: A Capital Game, a board game meant to be both educational and fun. However, legislation and lobbying may not have been quite as entertaining as the toymaker expected.
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West from the Capitol

West from the Capitol Stereoview
This 1868 image shows the view looking west from the Capitol. The vista takes in both the exhausted postwar city and the growing evidence of a proud, international capital.
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Categories: Capitol Campus, Artifacts

Welcome to the Hotel Congressional

Hotel Congressional Matchbook
How the Hotel Congressional went from a sleek, modern hotel to a dowdy House workspace to a parking lot, and later, the O'Neill House Office Building, is a tale of the changing nature of congressional work.
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Hanging on Every Word

La Salle Stenotype Machine
When the House is in session, official reporters record every word.
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If These Walls Could Talk

Bowler Hat before and after Conservation Composite Image
A major renovation of the Cannon House Office Building began in late 2014, uncovering some surprises. Artifacts pulled from the trenches and walls of the building during the restoration tell the story of the structure and its workers.
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The Last Hours of John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams Box Sofa
Representative John Quincy Adams knew he was nearing the end of his career. However, he likely did not suspect that his last hours in the Capitol would become a national media event, driven by brand-new technologies and nostalgia for the past that Adams represented.
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Post It

Clarence MacGregor Campaign Poster
The modern congressional campaign poster is a familiar sight, but it is nothing like the ones plastered all over town a century ago.
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Categories: Elections, Artifacts