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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 32 results

Edition for Educators—The Final Frontier

On July 20, 1969, Americans from all walks of life gathered around television sets to witness a truly remarkable event. Broadcast live to half a billion people, Commander Neil Armstrong stepped down from the lunar lander onto the surface of the moon at 10:56 p.m. EDT and uttered his iconic phrase, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Outer space has long captured the popular imagination, fascinating people of all ages and backgrounds, including Members of Congress.
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“Every Right and Every Privilege”: Oscar De Priest and Segregation in the House Restaurant

Oscar De Priest Discharge Petition
Oscar De Priest entered the 71st Congress as the only African American in the House of Representatives. Throughout his political career, De Priest confronted racial discrimination, including in the Capitol itself as a Member of Congress.
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Guts, Stamina, Audacity: Shirley Chisholm’s House Career

Fifty years ago this month, Shirley Chisholm, the charismatic and outspoken Brooklyn educator and politician, made history when she became the first African-American woman to serve in Congress. Small in stature, but with a larger-than-life persona, “Fighting Shirley” was a tireless advocate for her constituents, quotable and stylish and unyielding. Chisholm encapsulated the resolve of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and brought national attention to the issues she championed.
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House Select Committee Investigates Japanese Evacuation and Relocation

Letter from Mr. and Mrs. H. Lee Sutton to Representative John H. Tolan
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese military attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, pulling America into World War II. On February 13, 1942, referencing the presence of Japanese Americans and immigrants living on the West Coast, the congressional delegation from those states called for a policy that became one of the darkest chapters in American history: the forced imprisonment and internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans.
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How the House Almost Added a 13th Month

On February 9, 1922, the House Judiciary Committee held a brief hearing on a long subject: the passage of time, and how America kept track of it. Specifically, the committee met to hear from a handful of witnesses about a bill that would have created the “Liberty Calendar,” a uniform new annual calendar—13 months of 28 days divided evenly into four weeks—that supporters argued would make timekeeping more efficient and help meet the demands of the twentieth century.
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Categories: Legislation, Committees

“I Told Everything I Know”: Patty Duke’s Secret Testimony to Congress

Patty Duke
“I was involved, deeply involved, in a deception.” With those words to a congressional committee, the house of cards built by the producers and sponsors of popular televised quiz shows tumbled at last.
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Integrating Dick and Jane

Illustration of Children Playing from the Cover of Fun with Dick and Jane
Fun with Our Friends, a Dick and Jane reader, played a role in a congressional hearing about bias, race, and education.
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Land of Misfortune: Sarah Winnemucca Petitions Congress

Group of Paiutes
In 1884, Native American activist, author, and educator Sarah Winnemucca sent a petition to Congress for the Paiute Indians to be restored to the Malheur Reservation in southern Oregon. Unlike many appeals addressed to Congress in the late 1800s, and particularly unlike those written by women, the tone of Winnemucca’s petition is one of righteous demand rather than supplication.
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Out of the Blue: UFOs and the Freedom of Information Act

The existence of UFOs may seem like the exclusive domain of science fiction, but as Representative John Moss of California laid the groundwork for legislation that eventually became the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in 1966, he didn’t discriminate in his pursuit to open as much government information as possible to the public.
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Representing the President

In the spring of 1921, Republican Walter Folger Brown of Ohio, the chairman of Congress’s Joint Committee on the Reorganization of the Administrative Branch of the Government, began overhauling the size and shape of the federal bureaucracy. On paper, he seemed like a natural choice to lead Congress’s efforts to overhaul the government: a discreet business leader with progressive credentials from the key state of Ohio. A natural choice, that is, except for one detail: Brown was not a Member of Congress.
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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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"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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