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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 13–24 of 38 results

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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The Show Must Go On

Pemberton Dancers Pose Outside the Capitol
From impassioned speeches to interminable filibusters, congressional oratory is a performing art. But performance doesn’t end inside the House Chamber. The Capitol steps and grounds have set the stage for a number of unlikely recitals, from dancing “modern wood nymphs” to operatic House Pages.
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Please Put the Bartholdi Fountain in My Front Yard

Bartholdi Fountain
From 1877 to 1932, the Bartholdi Fountain searched for a permanent home. Though concealed in the old Botanic Garden grounds near the Capitol, the majestic water feature attracted a lot of attention. Everyone in Washington, D.C., had an opinion about where it should go. And every resident, it seemed, wanted it in his or her front yard.
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Edition for Educators—Bon Appétit

This month’s Edition for Educators features epicurean culture in the House of Representatives, both the mouth-watering and the gut-wrenching.
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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

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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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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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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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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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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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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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