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Historical Highlights

The First Professional Woman Photographer for the U.S. House of Representatives

April 01, 1972
The First Professional Woman Photographer for the U.S. House of Representatives Image courtesy of Dolly Seelmeyer, provided by Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives Above, Dolly Seelmeyer takes photographs at the 1980 Democratic National Convention.
On this date, Dolly Seelmeyer became the first woman photographer for the U.S. House of Representatives. Initially hired on a temporary basis, Seelmeyer obtained a permanent position as a House photographer on the Democratic side when Congresswoman Lindy Boggs of Louisiana interceded on her behalf by telling Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill of Massachusetts, “It’s time to have a lady in the House.” During her early years at the Capitol, Seelmeyer faced many obstacles because of her gender. “I had to make sure that I stayed very professional, and I made it very apparent that I was there to do a job and to do a good job,” Seelmeyer later recalled. Originally assigned exclusively to Speaker Carl Albert of Oklahoma, she quickly earned a reputation as a professional and skilled photographer, eventually receiving the same tasks as her male colleagues. During the mid-1980s, Seelmeyer began taking photographs for both Democratic and Republican Members when the House Office of Photography was created, merging the two previously partisan photography offices. During her 34 years on the Hill, Seelmeyer—who worked her way up to a senior photographer and later a manager—helped document many historic events for the House, including the Judiciary Committee impeachment investigation of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974, the shooting of two Capitol Police officers in 1998, and the lying in state ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda for President Ronald W. Reagan in 2004.

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