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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 24 results

30,000 Letters or Bust: Ansel Wold’s 1928 mission

Over the course of three years in the mid-1920s, the clerk of the Joint Committee on Printing, Ansel Wold, had a mission: find Representative Victor Berger's middle name and the name of the town in which Mr. Berger settled upon his arrival to the U.S. in the 1870s. And Wold needed to find this information fast, in time to publish the 1928 edition of the Biographical Directory of the American Congress.
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“A Voice as Resounding as a Trumpet”

Inside the House Chamber, along its southern wall, an American flag hangs above a modest three-tiered structure that is arguably one of the most recognizable pieces of furniture in the federal government—the House rostrum, the institution’s central nervous system. The rostrum’s middle row is reserved for three clerks, in particular: the House Journal clerk, the tally clerk who records votes, and the reading clerk who, as the job suggests, reads legislation and once called the roll of Members before the House switched to an electronic voting system in 1973. With such a prominent and vocal responsibility, reading clerks are often in the public eye. Most have remained anonymous, but in the first half of the 20th century the colorful personality and vocal endurance of Patrick James Haltigan made him a star.
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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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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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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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Edition for Educators—Congressional Staff

This month’s Edition for Educators features the staffs who work for the Members of Congress. Since the late 19th century, Congressional staffs help the House conduct the nation’s business in Members’ offices, on committees, or through House Officers such as the Clerk of the House or Sergeant-at-Arms. Learn more about some of the individuals that one scholar called the House’s “unelected representatives.”
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Edition for Educators – The House Page Program

For more than two centuries, young people served as Pages in the U.S. House of Representatives and enjoyed an unparalleled opportunity to observe and participate in the legislative process in “the People’s House.” Learn more about the origins of the House Page Program and the traditions that made it unique.
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“Firecrackers” in the House Chamber

“It sounded like a package of firecrackers were lit and set off, but with the ricochet, in my mind, it identified it as a shot, so I hit the floor very quickly,” House Page and future Representative Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania recalled. When the House convened on March 1, 1954, no one would have imagined the danger awaiting Members and staff. Within a matter of moments, normal House proceedings turned to uncertainty and chaos. During the past decade, the Office of the Historian interviewed eyewitnesses to the House shooting. Sixty years later, we can glean what happened through the eyes of four of these interviewees.
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Front and Center

Rostrum in the House Chamber
The Speaker’s rostrum announces its importance visually. Framed by walls of multicolored marble, columns, symbolic relief sculptures, and a large American flag, it is located front-and-center in the House Chamber.
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Hanging on Every Word

La Salle Stenotype Machine
When the House is in session, official reporters record every word.
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“Harry Needs a Rest”

Harry Parker
In an institution still largely segregated and even unwelcoming to its African-American Members in the 1930s, Harry Parker’s six decades of loyal service to the House engendered respect and affection. The New York Times described the House Chamber’s 1937 celebration of Parker's retirement as the “most extraordinary tribute ever paid” to an African-American in the House up to that point.
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“His Own Little Club”

Before Lyndon Baines Johnson rose through the political ranks as a Member of the House and Senate (and later Vice President and President of the United States), the young, congressional secretary to Congressman Richard Kleberg of Texas set his sights on a smaller, lesser-known organization: the Little Congress.
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