Back to Results
Historical Highlights

Doorkeeper of the House of Representatives Joe Sinnott

April 04, 1911
Doorkeeper of the House of Representatives Joe Sinnott Image courtesy of Library of Congress House Doorkeeper Joe Sinnott served as an employee in the United States Capitol for nearly 60 years.
On this date, Joe Sinnott was elected Doorkeeper of the House of Representatives. Born in Richmond, Virginia, on August 9, 1860, Sinnott spent nearly 60 years as a congressional employee and House Officer. He worked in a variety of positions, including secretary and minority sergeant at arms, before his election as Doorkeeper at the beginning of the 62nd Congress (1911–1913). “I just worked my way up,” he once noted. At the time, the Office of the Doorkeeper encompassed wide-ranging responsibilities, including maintaining order in the House Chamber, supervising the doormen and House Pages, and administering the press sections of the House Gallery. Sinnott’s service as Doorkeeper ended in 1919 when the Republicans took control of the House in the 66th Congress (1919–1921). Although Sinnott was relegated to "a special employe [sic]" position with the minority, Democrats nominated him for Doorkeeper at the start of every Congress for more than a decade. He eventually resumed his former position in 1931 when the Democrats gained the majority in the House and served as Doorkeeper until his death on January 27, 1943. “There is a great man who has grown up with this Capitol and is an inseparable part of it,” Congressman John Murdock of Arizona extolled. During his career as Doorkeeper, Sinnott served under six Democratic Speakers: James Beauchamp (Champ) Clark of Missouri; John Nance Garner of Texas; Henry Rainey of Illinois; Joseph Byrns of Tennessee; William Bankhead of Alabama; and Sam Rayburn of Texas.

Related Highlight Subjects

Fast Facts

The House has elected or appointed employees to carry out a wide variety of tasks throughout its history. The officers’ duties are prescribed both by law and Rule II of the Rules of the House of Representatives.

More >