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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 373–384 of 389 results

When Ice Cream Got Hot in Congress

Bossie the Cow in the House Office Building Courtyard
In October 1921, a cow mysteriously appeared in the grassy House Office Building courtyard. Bossie arrived amid milkshake profiteering, sundae protests, and illegal ice cream on the Capitol grounds. Cold and creamy on a summer evening, ice cream seems like the most innocent of sweets. But it once got pretty sticky around the House.
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Where’s Waldo?

At some point in history … the House of Representatives lost a 93-year-old Chaplain. Despite prominent mentions in the Congressional Record, newspapers from across the country, and in texts such as Chaplains of the Federal Government (1856), the Reverend Daniel Waldo vanished from the official list of House Chaplains sometime during the last 150 years.
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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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“Which Side Are You On?”

On July 14, 1955, John F. Pickett, a deputy U.S. Marshall for the Southern District of New York, traveled to Beacon, New York. The town had been founded in the early eighteenth century and later grew into a bustling commercial port. During the American Revolution, lookouts lit bonfires atop the surrounding hills to signal the approach of British troops—beacons, for which the town was later named. In the summer of 1955, Pickett made his way north in the shadow of those same hills to deliver a far different message to a resident of Beacon.
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Categories: Committees

White Tie and Tails?—The 1936 Annual Message

Tuxedo? Business suit? Dress up or dress sensibly? It’s not the Oscars . . . it’s the first evening Annual Message. American citizens are accustomed to seeing the President of the United States deliver prime-time addresses to a worldwide audience. However, when presidential night-time addresses were unique events, a previous generation of Members and their spouses were puzzled by what constituted proper fashion protocol at a speech that slowly emerged as a major policy—and social—statement.
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“Who Do You Represent?”

In March 1971 the 13 African-American Members of the U.S. House of Representatives founded the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), declaring their intention to reshape policy, legislation, and the nature of representation on Capitol Hill. For the first time, black Members worked together to draft an agenda for African-American communities across the nation.
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Who Kicked the Dogs Out?

Eccentric and quick-tempered, Virginia Representative John Randolph spent nearly half of his House service in a chamber that had quite literally gone to the dogs—his dogs, in fact. Randolph often brought his hunting dogs into the House Chamber, leaving them to lop and lounge about the floor during the session’s proceedings, much to the ire of some of his colleagues . . . especially a new Speaker of the House named Henry Clay of Kentucky.
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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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“Why Not Have it Constitutionally?”: Race, Gender, and the Nineteenth Amendment

On May 21, 1919, Representative James Mann of Illinois, the bespectacled, gray-bearded, 62-year-old former Republican Leader, made an announcement from the House Floor, cementing a change in American history that had been building for decades. “I call up House joint resolution No. 1, proposing an amendment to the Constitution extending the right of suffrage to women,” he said, “and ask that the resolution be reported.”
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Wish You Were Here

As long as people have traveled, they have wanted to share experiences with the folks at home, and nearly 200 years of tourism show that visitors to the Capitol are no exception. The invention of picture postcards in the late 19th century added a level of efficiency to the impulse to share, and quickly escalated into a mailing frenzy. And as a prime destination, the Capitol was a mainstay of the genre with every photogenic part finding its way through the mail.
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Categories: Capitol Campus, Artifacts

Women on a Warship

In early 1949 Connecticut Representative Chase Going Woodhouse received a curious invitation at her Washington office. The Secretary of Defense had invited Members of Congress to spend the night on the aircraft carrier USS Midway to observe the navy’s training exercises as the legislators considered the future of military aviation. The problem was that Woodhouse was one of 10 women serving in the 81st Congress (1949–1951) and navy regulations prohibited women from spending the night on a warship.
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Women Take the Spotlight

Rankin and Other Congresswomen
On January 6, 1941, Jeannette Rankin attended a Joint Session of Congress just days after being sworn in to a second term in the House. For Rankin, who’d first entered Congress 24 years earlier at the opening of the 65th Congress in 1917, the scene must have been familiar—war clouds gathering on the horizon, a dramatic presidential address, and a whirl of press attention, much of it paid to her return and, remarkably, still focused on her gender.
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