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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 77 results

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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House Pages Shoulder the Weight of History: The Story Behind an Iconic Image

Sixty-five years ago, four members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party opened fire on the House Chamber from the visitors’ gallery, wounding five Members, and causing mayhem across the Capitol. In the midst of the terror, others on the floor responded by assisting those wounded in the attack. Photographs snapped in the aftermath captured these efforts, including an iconic image of three young House Pages carrying a wounded Member down the steps of the Capitol. Perhaps more than any other image, that photo came to embody both the violence and the solemnity of the day.
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Congressional Eagles

Edith Nourse Rogers
In the early 1920s, one Member of Congress flipped and looped over the Capitol in a biplane. But after famous pilot Charles Lindbergh took Representatives up for a ride in 1928, aviation soared in the Washington imagination.
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House-Brewed Home Brew

John Philip Hill and Guests at the Franklin Farms Party
Representative John Philip Hill tried very hard to get arrested by the Commissioner of Prohibition.
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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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