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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 73–84 of 390 results

Cooking the Books

Two Women Holding a Cookbook and a Dessert
With nearly 800 pages of recipes cooked up primarily by the wives and daughters of Representatives, and with occasional contributions by Members, the 1927 Congressional Club Cook Book served up a juicy slice of congressional life.
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Crowned with Freedom

Capitol Architect Thomas U. Walter had not slept well in days. The painstaking process required to mount the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol’s unfinished new Dome had kept him awake at night. But on December 2, 1863, clear skies and a gentle breeze greeted Walter as his team of workers adjoined the final piece to the 19-foot, six-inch statue.
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Dial Main 3120 for Members

Harriott Daley, Director of the Capitol Switchboard
Standing next to the Capitol switchboard, chief operator Harriott Daley broke into a smile. “She must have a lot of interesting recollections,” a Washington Post reporter mused, “since she is in the top telephone spot in the Nation.”
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Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend

When Jessie Wilson, daughter of President Woodrow Wilson, became engaged to Francis Bowes Sayre in 1913, Washington was aflutter with excitement. Washington society had not had such an occasion to anticipate since the marriage of Alice Roosevelt to Nicholas Longworth set extravagant expectations for what a Washington wedding could be. In the early 20th century, it was common practice for the president’s cabinet, world leaders, diplomats, and Members of Congress to present often lavish gifts to the daughter of the president on the occasion of her marriage.
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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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Did You #AskACurator?

Adam Clayton Powell
Large and small, the questions came, and @USHouseHistory answered them during #AskACurator day on September 17. In what has now become an annual Twitter event, 47,546 tweets used the hashtag #AskACurator to pose questions to and elicit answers from curators at 721 museums in 43 countries. They weren’t all directed to or coming from the House, but many were, and the House Curator Farar Elliott spent an hour answering them. Here are some of the most intriguing responses.
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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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Do Me a Favor

Detail of a letter from Theodore Roosevelt to Joe Cannon
In 1994, an Appropriations Committee staffer discovered an old wooden trunk tucked away in the attic of the Cannon House Office Building. The trunk, it turned out, contained letters older than the building itself and belonged to none other than the powerful Speaker of the House, Joe Cannon.
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Doing the Dishes

Sifted peas, Vanderbilt dressing, kraut juice, steak Stanley, and kaffee hag  –  now that sounds like a hearty meal. Historic menus from the House Restaurant, dating back more than 80 years, include some incomprehensible dishes.
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Categories: Capitol Campus, Artifacts

Don’t Go Back to Danville: Joe Cannon’s Hidden Trunk

thompson_cannon_trunk
Without evidence, such as records, important pieces of information are lost to history. How many times have you read or listened to a fascinating story that started with the words, “Recently discovered records revealed that . . . ”? Although the Antiques Roadshow–style discovery of a rare collection of documents in a dumpster is unusual, occasionally great finds are made in dark, dusty corners of long-forgotten spaces.
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Don’t Miss the Boat

Representatives Travel by Boat to the Jefferson Islands Club
Attempting to unite his splintering party and create legislative harmony, President Roosevelt invited Representatives, Senators, and Cabinet members to a weekend picnic in June 1937. FDR hoped to use a party to unify his party.
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Dreams Can Come True

Clerk Donnald K. Anderson’s 35-year career in the U.S. House began somewhat improbably before he was even old enough to vote.
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