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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 68 results

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

In the summer of 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed into law an act that expanded Hispanic Heritage Week, first created by Congress in 1968, into Hispanic Heritage Month. Sponsored by California Representative Esteban Torres and Illinois Senator Paul Simon, the new law created an annual month-long celebration of Hispanic-American culture and history.
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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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Luaus to Lusitania

On the near-cloudless Monday morning of May 3, 1915, the steamer Sierra floated on an untroubled sea off the coast of Honolulu, the lush capital of the Territory of Hawaii. On deck, 125 people outfitted in white linen suits and dresses—among them 48 Members of Congress—polished off breakfast and prepared to disembark for what most hoped would be a tropical vacation. From the harbor, five launches sailed out to meet them, carrying a welcoming committee comprised of the Royal Hawaiian band, lei greeters, the mayor of Honolulu, the leadership of the territorial legislature, and Hawaiian Delegate Jonah “Prince Kuhio” Kalanianaole.
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Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Congress, 1900–2017

In celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month, and in collaboration with the Office of the Clerk and the Committee on House Administration, the Office of the House Historian is pleased to present Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Congress, 1900–2017.

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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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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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No Woman Is an Island

The photograph on the East Front of the Capitol on March 20, 1918, straddled the seasons, winter in Washington yielding to a fresh spring.
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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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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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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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“I Ask Nothing Because I am a Negro”: A Letter to the Committee on Military Affairs

By age 26, Henry Ossian Flipper’s place in history was already assured. In 1877, he was the first African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point, where his race was a fact his fellow students never let him forget. He was the first African-American commissioned officer in the U.S. Army.
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Jeannette Rankin and the Women's Suffrage Amendment

It was no accident—nor mere symbolism—that on January 10, 1918, a woman led the effort on the floor of the U.S. House to pass the landmark resolution for a constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote. The first such proposal had been introduced in Congress almost 50 years earlier, but it was Jeannette Rankin, the first woman to serve on Capitol Hill, who steadily built support in the House for women's voting rights throughout the 65th Congress (1917–1919).
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