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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

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

An Ode to Poetry at the Capitol

Consultant in Poetry Elizabeth Bishop Writing with a View of the Capitol
During a Joint Meeting honoring the bicentennial of Congress in 1989, Minority Leader Robert Michel suggested that what Congress needed during the celebration was “not more congressional prose, but the fiery, living truth of great poetry.”
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Becoming the Board of Education

Nicholas Longworth and John Garner
Board of Education. Doghouse. Cabinet Room. Sanctum sanctorum. Or, as Speaker Sam Rayburn modestly called his tiny hideaway where informal legislating happened, “the little room.”
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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

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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Trading on the Capitol

The first trademark granted in the United States used an American eagle, and into the 21st century, marketing textbooks recommended using the Capitol to give products “borrowed interest” from patriotic consumers. Ambitious soap makers in the late 1800s used the iconic U.S. Capitol to give their wares a patriotic shine.

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Categories: Capitol Campus, Artifacts

Ups and Downs in the Capitol

New Elevator in the Capitol
“The best ride in town may be on the Capitol Hill elevators,” the Washington Post reported in 1971. The story of elevators on the House side of the Capitol—involving money, death, and machinery—is a tale about the ups and downs of power.
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The House Gets a Used Ford

On any given June day, summertime tourists visit their Representatives in the three House Office Buildings near the Capitol. But off the beaten path, at the foot of Capitol Hill, another House Office Building stands in relative obscurity. This is the story of the Ford House Office Building, an old structure that got a new lease on life, becoming the House’s own used Ford.

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Members Only

On the afternoon of February 6, 1967, Representatives Catherine May, Patsy Mink, and Charlotte Reid derailed Herb Botts’ day. Botts managed the men’s gym in the basement of the Rayburn House Office Building, but he never expected the three Congresswomen to show up for his 4:45 p.m. calisthenics class. Hawaii Representative Patsy Mink pointed to her stuffed handbag and politely announced, “We’ve come to join the class.” Flustered, Botts exclaimed, “It’s just for Members of Congress.”
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Edition for Educators—Inauguration and Congress

Since at least 1901, a Joint Congressional Committee on Inauguration has formed every four years to arrange the inauguration of the next President of the United States. With many Members of Congress both in attendance and charged with preparing for the event, the U.S. House of Representatives has a long shared history with this momentous quadrennial event.
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Crowned with Freedom

Capitol Architect Thomas U. Walter had not slept well in days. The painstaking process required to mount the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol’s unfinished new Dome had kept him awake at night. But on December 2, 1863, clear skies and a gentle breeze greeted Walter as his team of workers adjoined the final piece to the 19-foot, six-inch statue.
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Taking the Steps: Unity and Recovery After 9/11

On the evening of September 11, 2001, congressional leadership prepared to make their first collective response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon hours earlier. Members of Congress assembled on the Capitol steps to join leaders in a public demonstration of unity. Broadcast across the country, it became a powerful image of bipartisan cooperation and resolve, ending with an impromptu rendition of “God Bless America.” This gathering became a symbol of national unity in the ensuing weeks and months.
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