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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 124 results

Slam Dunk: Doughnuts and the House

Dunking a Doughnut into Coffee
Doughnuts have long been a favorite Washington breakfast. Crullers cooked up debate both on and off the House Floor.
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The Cowboy of Congress

Percy Gassaway
The Congressman stuck both index fingers down into his cowboy boot and yanked it up under his pant leg, getting ready for another day at the office.
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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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Jeannette Rankin for Senate

Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana earned a permanent place in U.S. history by becoming the first woman elected to Congress. She served two non-consecutive terms and became the only person to vote against America’s entry into both World War I in 1917 and World War II in 1941. Her political career ended with her lone vote against war on December 8, 1941, as the U.S. Pacific Fleet burned at Pearl Harbor.
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The Famous Umbrella of Ernest Ackerman

Ernest Ackerman with Umbrella
Ernest Ackerman stood outside on a staircase. A black umbrella, clasped in his right hand and leaning against his shoulder, unfurled behind him. But, as you might notice, it wasn’t raining.
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Campaign Ink Blotters

Before the age of the ballpoint pen, Americans wrote their documents with fountain pens dipped in ink. Blotters soaked up the excess ink, and were a popular campaign object for decades, from their invention in the late 19th century until ballpoint pens hit the market after World War II, shoving fountain pens off the desktop by 1960.
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Unbought and Unbossed

Shirley Chisholm
Trailblazer, committee member, presidential candidate. Photographs from the House Collection show the path of Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman in Congress.
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The Search for Common Ground

In the span of five months during the winter and spring of 1962 two major entrenched powers faced off in an obstinate battle of wills. This wasn’t a traditional war, but more of a smoldering, protracted conflict between long-time rivals with competing interests. Territory was contested. Stakes escalated. Worldviews were challenged. Catastrophe beckoned. And all the while, the ability of the federal government to function hung in the balance.
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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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Wooden Sword, Spitting Lyon

For several weeks in early 1798 legislative business in the U.S. House of Representatives slowed to a crawl as the relatively young chamber grappled with a quandary both uncharted and unpleasant: whether and how to discipline its Members for unacceptable behavior.
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The Mediator

Representative Matthew Dunn Speaks to Striking Workers
Pennsylvania Representative Matthew A. Dunn stood in front of the strikers, wearing dark sunglasses inside the Pittsburgh plant. The Pennsylvania Association for the Blind workers’ strike had already slid into its second week in the late winter of 1937 when a whistle rang out, calling the room to order. Quieting the radio, the strikers turned toward the sound of Dunn’s voice. “I am with you on your strike,” the Representative said, “except I don’t think you are asking enough.”
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Edition for Educators—House Leadership

This Edition for Educators highlights House Leadership. The U.S. Constitution offers spare guidance as to how House leadership should be organized, noting only that the Membership “shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers.” By the early 20th century, each of the major parties gradually created entire organizations to advance their legislative agendas in the House.
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