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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 13–18 of 18 results

Guts, Stamina, Audacity: Shirley Chisholm’s House Career

Fifty years ago this month, Shirley Chisholm, the charismatic and outspoken Brooklyn educator and politician, made history when she became the first African-American woman to serve in Congress. Small in stature, but with a larger-than-life persona, “Fighting Shirley” was a tireless advocate for her constituents, quotable and stylish and unyielding. Chisholm encapsulated the resolve of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and brought national attention to the issues she championed.
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Edition for Educators—Trivia

This month’s edition for educators focuses on finding factoids about the history of the U.S. House of Representatives, using the History, Art & Archives website. The most basic information can sometimes be the hardest to find. Two hundred twenty-eight years of history and precedent produces plenty of unique and obscure trivia, and this blog presents a search for some of that trivia across our online resources.
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The British Are Coming!

More than 150 years after the American Revolution, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England made history when they set foot on American soil. As the first reigning English monarchs to visit the United States, they received a much warmer reception than the British forces of Paul Revere’s time. Amid much fanfare and eager anticipation on both sides of the Atlantic on the eve of World War II, the royal couple embarked on a brief but meaningful tour of the U.S. and Canada, which included a formal reception at the U.S. Capitol on June 9, 1939.
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“You Start It and You Like the Work, and You Just Keep On”

To date, 259 Members have served 30 years or more in the U.S. Congress, constituting just two percent of the total historic membership. Yet in an institution where long service often yields greater power, many of these Members became some of the House’s most famous and influential people.
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Were There Any Witnesses? Segregation in the House Visitors’ Gallery

Were African Americans in attendance to witness the legislative debates that shaped their freedom? Well, yes and no. The nation barred them from citizenship and service as Members of Congress until the adoption of the 14th Amendment in 1868, but barring African Americans, slave or free, from the Capitol has a murkier history.
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Discovering a Page’s Place in the “Second American Revolution”

During the Reconstruction Era, African Americans gained elective office and the U.S. House of Representatives was forever changed. Americans know the narrative that describes Reconstruction as the “Second American Revolution”—one in which basic political and citizenship rights were conferred upon freed slaves (at least the men). Congressional Reconstruction imposed in the South also changed the face of the membership of the House. Until recently, however, we knew very little about the changes that Reconstruction wrought at the staff level in the House.
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