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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 28 results

“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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Early Hispanic Americans in House Records

As the United States expanded westward over the course of the 19th century, many new people became part of the country. The role of these new residents increased, although not without challenges. House records document these early events and the journey of Hispanic Americans in what became the Southwest United States, and in Congress.

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Unique Circumstances: A Look at the House Journal on September 11, 2001

Eve Butler-Gee pulled up to the United States Capitol under a cobalt-blue sky early on the morning of September 11, 2001. It was well before the workday began, but she hoped to complete a stack of paperwork before the legislative session started at 9 a.m. As a House journal clerk, she had to proofread the prior day’s House Journal and then report to the floor to record a new day’s proceedings.
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Edition for Educators—House History Through Official House Records

One document can trace the will of the people, the history of the country, and the work of the House of Representatives. House Records—defined as the official, permanent records of the House Committees and Officers—reflect how citizens and their government address and advocate for issues. Recently we launched a way to explore a selection of these records in the Record Search database.
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“Congress Took No Further Action”: Women and the Right to Petition

In 1838, women in Brookline, Massachusetts, reacted with “astonishment and alarm” at the recently adopted gag rule, which tabled all antislavery petitions. They signed their names to a brief but searing petition to the U.S. House of Representatives. Read about this and other petitions sent by women to Congress requesting assistance with issues of both national and personal importance.
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#AskAnArchivist about Records Search

On October 5, House Archivist Robin Reeder unveiled a major new website feature and answered dozens of questions during #AskAnArchivist Day on Twitter.
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Rediscovering Rainey's Reign

It’s unclear what prompted Representative Luke Poland of Vermont to leave the rostrum that day and yield the gavel, as the 43rd Congress (1873–1875) debated an Indian appropriations bill. But what is clear is that he set in motion a series of events that seemed the very culmination of the Civil War. When Poland stepped down, Joseph Hayne Rainey of South Carolina—a former slave who had once been impressed into service by the Confederacy before escaping to Bermuda—mounted the Speaker’s rostrum, grasped the gavel, and set Capitol Hill abuzz.
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Did House Records Solve a Mystery? #AskAnArchivist and Find Out

First House Journal
On October 1st, House Archivist Robin Reeder put down her acid-free folders and picked up her keyboard to answer questions on Twitter. During #AskAnArchivist day, readers asked questions big and small. Robin discussed challenges, historic events, rare documents, and a mystery involving Watergate records.
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Breaking the Code: Duncan Lee, HUAC, and the Venona Files

Duncan Lee
Here’s the thing about being a spy: You can’t tell anybody. Especially if you’re a descendant of the Lee family of Virginia, educated at an elite prep school and university, a Rhodes Scholar, a lawyer at a prominent Manhattan law firm, and working in counterintelligence for the United States. Duncan Chaplin Lee was and did all of those things. He was a spy, and he got away with it.
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#AskAnArchivist about #HouseRecords

#AskAnArchivist
Robin Reeder, the House Archivist, took a break from the records of the House to participate in the very first #AskAnArchivist day, October 30th, on Twitter. Organized by the Society of American Archivists, #AskAnArchivist day gave students and researchers the opportunity to ask questions about collections and archiving.
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The Most Important Congressional Source You’ve Never Heard Of

Chairman Don Fuqua of Florida
Open to the Foreword of the most recent Congressional Directory, and you’ll learn that it’s “one of the oldest working handbooks within the United States Government,” compiled unofficially from 1789 to 1847, and officially by Congress ever since. What it won’t tell you is that the Directory is a rich and multi-layered resource about the House, the Senate, and life on Capitol Hill. They’re yeoman-like and unassuming, but for historians and political scientists they provide a valuable means of studying the first branch of government.
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Categories: Records & Research

Picture This: Lewis Hine’s Photographs of Child Labor

Today, the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is the kind of trite shortcut your English teacher deducts points from your essay for using. But at the turn of the century the visceral power of a photograph was a new concept.
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