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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 81 results

Edition for Educators—The House Collection

Anthony John (Toby) Moffett Jr. Poster
Home to more than 13,000 artifacts and works of art, the House Collection encompasses the institution’s history. This Edition for Educators highlights pieces that reflect the relationship between material culture and the history of the nation’s legislature.
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Bathing the Capitol

Firefighters Hose Down the Capitol in 1910
In November 1899, Washington, DC, loaned the Architect of the Capitol a fire engine, along with its firemen, for a special task: to give the Capitol a bath. As House Collection photographs show, the custom continued for more than 60 years.
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Starring Hazel Scott as Herself

Hazel Scott and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. on the Cover of Jet
Civil rights, Congress, and the performances of jazz pianist Hazel Scott coincided in the late 1940s and early 1950s. “I’ve been brash all my life, and it’s gotten me into a lot of trouble,” Scott said. “But at the same time, speaking out has sustained me and given meaning to my life.”
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The Parliamentarian’s Scrapbook

Detail View of the Parliamentarian's Scrapbook
The Parliamentarian's index finger rests on one precise spot in his scrapbook of precedents—the important reference file of a man known for his influence.
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Where the Seats Have No Name

New Seats in 1913
The year 1913 dawned with a conundrum. There were 401 desks and chairs in the crowded House Chamber and 440 people who needed a seat when Congress convened in the spring. How could each Member of Congress claim a chair?
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Notes from Underground, Part II: The Rayburn Subway

Bud Shuster and Jack Schenendorf Riding the Rayburn Subway
When the dust settled after construction of the first House and Senate Office Buildings, only the Senate had a subway line. Representatives had to wait—and walk—until the Rayburn House Office Building opened in 1965.
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Notes from Underground, Part I: The Book Tunnel

Detail of the Tunnel in an Architectural Plan
For more than a century, a tunnel ran between the Capitol and the Library of Congress to what is now known as the Thomas Jefferson Building. Using iron rails, electricity, and an endless cable, the underground shaft automatically shuttled books to Members of Congress. “There is nothing like it in this country or, so far as known, in any other,” the Washington Post told readers in 1895.
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Floor of the Floor

Installing New Carpet in 1938
Carpets have played an important role in interior design for both private and public buildings. Over two centuries, flooring decisions in the House have swung back and forth between form (symbolism, aesthetics, and glamour) and function (practicality, cost, and durability).
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Written in Stone

Champ Clark and Bust
Two Champ Clarks stand side by side. The Speaker on the right is a near-perfect replica of the Speaker on the left—except for his ghostly white pallor and his abrupt ending below the chest.
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Snowball Fight at the Capitol!

1923 Snowball Fight
Photographs from the House Collection capture the fun of snowball fights outside the Capitol, a tradition for House and Senate Pages.
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Congressmobiles

Robert Griffin and His Mobile Office
Congressional mobile offices emerged at the intersection of U.S. politics and love for automobiles.
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In the Bag

Detail of Ruth Bryan Owen's Bag
“Representative Ruth Bryan Owen has designed a handbag for business women,” the Chicago Daily Tribune reported. In 1931, the Congresswoman’s pocketbook made the news. Her choice of accessory became a subtle statement about gender expectations in Congress.
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