Modern Memories

The twentieth century brought greater industrialization and an increase in commercially made products. And as tourism developed into an industry, the availability of keepsakes for sale changed accordingly. Store-bought Capitol keepsakes became even more popular over the course of the 20th century. Everyday objects, such as the compact, plate, and handkerchief holder shown below, reflected the growing commercial market for souvenirs. The increasingly prevalent image of the Capitol dome reflected its growing status as an icon of Washington, D.C.

Experience-oriented personal souvenirs, such as gallery passes and signed menus, however, never went out of style. A House Restaurant menu with a note from Kika de la Garza was expressly given “as a remembrance of [a] visit to the Capitol.” An eye-catching I Visited Congressman Brown in Washington bumper sticker is an example of a memento that was produced economically to have on hand in a Representative's office, serving both as a souvenir and a campaign item for enthusiastic constituents.

Handkerchief Holder
Handkerchief Holder/tiles/non-collection/H/Handkerchief_case.xml
A popular ladies’ accessory in the 1940s, the handkerchief holder was among the utilitarian objects adapted as travel souvenirs in the mid-20th century. The satin cases helped keep handkerchiefs neatly folded in handbags. They were manufactured for popular destinations, such as Yellowstone National Park and Washington, D.C., and this example uses an image of the iconic East Front view of the Capitol, and clearly indicates the nature and intended function of the object—a souvenir for holding “hankies.”
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Souvenir Compact
Souvenir Compact/tiles/non-collection/C/Compact.xml
Although souvenirs of a visit to the Capitol were always popular, the 20th century saw an increase in the variety of objects associated with the Capitol. In addition to photographic images, postcards and illustrated guides, utilitarian objects featuring representations of the Capitol began to appear. This metal compact is decorated with an embossed image of the Capitol and its grounds and likely once contained face powder.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
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Capitol Commemorative Plate
Capitol Commemorative Plate/tiles/non-collection/P/Plate.xml
True to its role as the center point of Washington’s architectural landmarks, the U.S. Capitol is the focus of this mid-20th century souvenir plate. The executive and judiciary branches are represented by the White House and Supreme Court building. The Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, the Washington Monument, Mount Vernon, and Arlington Cemetery’s tomb of the unknown soldier round out the sites typically visited during a trip to Washington. This plate was made by the Salem China Company in Ohio, which manufactured a variety of mid-century dinnerware and souvenir pieces.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
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Brown Bumper Sticker
Brown Bumper Sticker/tiles/non-collection/B/Bumpersticker.xml
Mementos provided by Member's offices for visiting constituents such as this bright, eye-catching bumper sticker served as campaign materials as well as souvenirs. As a type of campaign material, bumper stickers became increasingly popular after the mid-20th, as cars became the norm.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
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House Restaurant Menu
House Restaurant Menu/tiles/non-collection/M/Menu.xml
Personal connections to constituents have long been an important aspect of a Representative’s work. This 1973 House Restaurant menu, with a personal message from Kika de la Garza to his visiting constituents, exemplifies the effect of personal interaction on the more universal experience of visiting the Capitol. For decades, the dining room used paper menus, which were often signed by Members and kept as souvenirs of a visit to the Capitol.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object