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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 145–156 of 416 results

The Speaker Inquisition of 1856

Shortly before seven o’clock in the evening, on Saturday, February 2, 1856, Nathaniel P. Banks of Massachusetts, strode to the well of the House, climbed the rostrum’s few steps to the Speaker’s chair, and sat down. He paused for a moment. With his thick dark hair swept to one side and a prominent mustache obscuring his upper lip, Banks then stood to address his colleagues.
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Edition for Educators—Speakers of the House

This Edition for Educators highlights the Speaker of the House. Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution states: “The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers.” The Speaker acts as leader of the House and combines several roles, including the institutional role of the presiding officer of the House, the partisan leader of the majority party, and the representative role of an elected Member of Congress.
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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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What's in the Speaker's Office?

Increased space, more frequent visits by foreign dignitaries, and the demand for news photos spurred development of what is today known as the Speaker’s Ceremonial Office. The room was part of the 1857 Capitol extension and is furnished to suit the Victorian style with pieces from the House Collection.
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Half Baked

Rayburn at 1937 Potato Battle
Most debates in the House are settled on the House Floor. But one unusual battle was fought—with potatoes—at the House Restaurant. In the northeastern corner, armed with Aroostook spuds, was Maine. In the northwestern corner, nicknamed the “Potato State,” was Idaho. Maine versus Idaho: the half-baked potato war of 1937.
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Edition for Educators – Thanksgiving Holiday

Ready for some turkey and taters? Thanksgiving Day has officially been around as long as the House of Representatives, and it’s seen some congressional attention since it was first declared more than 200 years ago.
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The Show Must Go On

Pemberton Dancers Pose Outside the Capitol
From impassioned speeches to interminable filibusters, congressional oratory is a performing art. But performance doesn’t end inside the House Chamber. The Capitol steps and grounds have set the stage for a number of unlikely recitals, from dancing “modern wood nymphs” to operatic House Pages.
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I Can Vote for War

Declaration of War Against Germany
Jeannette Rankin of Montana, the first woman elected to Congress, gained notoriety through the accidents of history. A confirmed pacifist, her two widely separated terms in the House put her in the position of voting against U.S. participation in both World War I (April 6, 1917) and World War II (December 8, 1941). But there was another vote...
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We Can’t Make This Stuff Up . . .

Research on the most benign topics can uncover a gem or two when least expected. Sometimes it’s just a random piece of trivia that adds a little bit of detail to the rich history of the institution. And then there are the other times . . . the times when you question the validity of the material and think to yourself, “This is so good it’s better than fiction.” Here are a few examples that fall into the “believe it or not” category.
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Categories: Members of Congress

Best of the Blog in 2015

As December draws to a close, there’s a tendency to review the efforts of the year. Here’s just a few of our favorites from 2015.
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Categories: Announcements

Please Put the Bartholdi Fountain in My Front Yard

Bartholdi Fountain
From 1877 to 1932, the Bartholdi Fountain searched for a permanent home. Though concealed in the old Botanic Garden grounds near the Capitol, the majestic water feature attracted a lot of attention. Everyone in Washington, D.C., had an opinion about where it should go. And every resident, it seemed, wanted it in his or her front yard.
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A “Troublesome and Greatly Derided Custom” — Answering the Annual Message

During the presidencies of George Washington and John Adams, the process of the State of the Union and its responses was more genteel and singular, but no less contentious than it is today. In the 1790s, both houses of Congress drafted, debated, and marched en masse to the President’s mansion to deliver a formal, unified response, addressing the important issues raised by the executive. That is, until one volatile Member of the House dared to wonder aloud what the fuss was all about.
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