Albert R. Anness
"...It was in the fall of 1947 that, for some minor infraction of the rules, I was being held in detention after school in Hamilton High School. Having no constructive purpose in mind, and absolutely no desire to complete my homework assignments, I was glancing around the room for something to read when I spotted a civics textbook. Out of sheer boredom, I began thumbing through its pages and, by chance, came upon a chapter outlining the function of the United States Congress, including a photograph of a House Page at work. Underneath the photo was a brief explanation of his duties. Immediately I said to myself, 'That’s for me,' and I spent the remaining hour of my incarceration trying to figure how I could get from Hamilton, Ohio, to Washington, D.C."
— Albert R. Anness, April 9, 2013
When Albert Anness first learned about the House Page Program in his high school civics textbook in 1947, he set his sights on working in the Capitol. After volunteering for state and federal Democratic campaigns, Anness received a Page appointment from Congressman Edward Breen of Ohio at the start of the 81st Congress (1949-1951). In his oral history, Anness traces his time living and working in Washington, D.C., in the years following World War II.
Anness and his fellow Pages worked long days and weekends under the watchful eyes of Doorkeeper William “Fishbait” Miller and Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas. He describes his daily routine, attending the Capitol Page School and working in the House Document Room, as well as his unique assignment to operate the sound system for the House Ways and Means Committee as it debated amendments to the Social Security Act of 1935. Anness also reveals his mischievous side. He and his classmates played hide-and-seek in the Library of Congress, memorized secret passages throughout the Capitol campus, and carved their names on the Capitol roof during President Harry Truman’s inauguration. Throughout the interview, Anness recalls how his political interests shaped the course of his life.
Albert Anness was born in 1931, to Lynn and Clara (Barr) Anness in Hamilton, Ohio. He and his sister, Adeline, attended the local public schools while their mother worked from home and their father sorted mail at the Hamilton Post Office. As a student at Hamilton Public High School, Anness read about House Pages in a civics textbook and contacted his former Congressman, Edward Gardner, about joining the program.
In 1949, Ohio Representative Edward Breen appointed Anness as a House Page for the 81st Congress (1949-1951). During his time in Washington, D.C., Anness attended the Capitol Page School, worked as a phone and bench Page, and lived in boardinghouses around the city.
After his Page service, Anness joined the U.S. Army and earned his GED through the United States Armed Forces Institute in 1951. While attending Miami University (Ohio), Anness met Sharon Kirby, and the two were married in 1957. In 1960, he opened an independent insurance agency, and in 1962, he ran unsuccessfully for the Ohio state senate. The following year, Anness started his long career in sales and marketing of automobile parts and machinery. Albert Anness died on July 4, 2017, in Franklin, Indiana.
Becoming a Page: Part One
Albert R. Anness recalls learning of House Pages in his high school civics book.
Becoming a Page: Part Two
Albert R. Anness describes his political experience that led to his House Page appointment.
"High Hopes for the Future"
Albert R. Anness discusses the collective outlook of his generation during his time as a Page.
Doorkeeper "Fishbait" Miller
Albert R. Anness shares memories of William M. "Fishbait" Miller, the Doorkeeper of the House.
Working with the Ways and Means Committee
Albert R. Anness describes assisting the Ways and Means Committee with their hearings on revisions to the Social Security Act of 1935.
Hide-and-Seek in the Library of Congress
Albert R. Anness remembers how he spent his free time as a Page.
President Truman's Inauguration: Part One
Albert R. Anness recalls Congressman Edward G. Breen of Ohio spontaneously inviting him to attend President Truman's inauguration.
President Truman's Inauguration: Part Two
Albert R. Anness remembers watching President Truman's inauguration from the roof of the Capitol after being asked to leave the inaugural platform.