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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 32 results

#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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Who’s Who In the 65th

65th Congress
In 2007, while conducting image research at the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, our office ran across a record vaguely labeled “65th Congress.” This blog discusses how researchers, with very few clues about the image’s original provenance, answered two big questions: when during the 65th Congress (1917–1919) was the image taken, and could the Members in the photograph be identified?
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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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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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“Every Right and Every Privilege”: Oscar De Priest and Segregation in the House Restaurant

Oscar De Priest Discharge Petition
Oscar De Priest entered the 71st Congress as the only African American in the House of Representatives. Throughout his political career, De Priest confronted racial discrimination, including in the Capitol itself as a Member of Congress.
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A Great Disaster

Homecoming–Kaw Valley Lithograph
In October 1951, every Member of the House of Representatives and the Senate received an unusual petition in the mail from an artist named Thomas Hart Benton.
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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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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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#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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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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Skip the Record and Go Straight to the Journal

Researchers often ignore the House Journal in favor of its flashier cousin, the Congressional Record. If laws were sausages, the Congressional Record would report the grinding process of making them. The House Journal by contrast has—with a few minor formatting adjustments—remained a constant over the span of House history, as a simple recapitulation of House actions as required by the Constitution.
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Centennial of the Department of Labor Women’s Bureau

Detail of a Petition to Establish a Bureau of Labor for Women
The Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor, created by Congress 100 years ago on June 5, 1920, still exists today. Established at a time when women were moving into the workforce but were still months away from having the right to vote, the Women’s Bureau studied and advocated for working women.
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