Roll Call Photographs: Glimpsing Congress and Capitol Hill, 1988-2000

The following is a guest post by Arden Alexander, Cataloging Specialist in the Prints & Photographs Division.

The U.S. Congress has always been a popular research topic for Prints and Photographs Division patrons. The recently processed Roll Call Collection offers a wealth of photographs that pick up where our other collections leave off, covering the years 1988-2000.

Consisting of almost 300,000 photographs–primarily black-and-white, but also some color–the collection forms the larger part of the massive CQ Roll Call Photograph Collection. The photographs were created for use in Roll Call and Congressional Quarterly (CQ), two leading Capitol Hill publications.

Patrons can now find portraits of people not previously well represented in our collections including members of Congress John Boehner and Geraldine Ferraro.

John Boehner. Photo by Laura Patterson, May 1993. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.39566

John Boehner. Photo by Laura Patterson, May 1993. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.39566

Geraldine Ferraro. Photo by Rebecca Roth, Nov. 1998. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.38879

Geraldine Ferraro. Photo by Rebecca Roth, Nov. 1998. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.38879

In addition to acquainting us with the faces of many politicians, the collection includes striking pictures of election activities, demonstrations, conventions, hearings, press conferences, social activities and visits of world leaders. Images of the U.S. Capitol complex, celebrities and the life in the Capitol Hill neighborhood also abound. In another big plus for researchers, the photographs taken by staff photographers, which represent most of the collection, have no known copyright restrictions.

Researchers view the photographs primarily through contact sheets (multiple photos relating to a particular photo assignment, contact printed from 35 mm negatives onto a single sheet). Each contact sheet has an online description that summarizes the contents and leads researchers to the location in the Prints and Photographs Reading Room file where the images are available for viewing. (Magnifying glasses are always on hand for catching the details!)

Contact sheet, "State of the Union." Photographs by Rebecca Roth, 1998 Jan. 27. //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2014668870/

Contact sheet, “State of the Union.” Photographs by Rebecca Roth, 1998 Jan. 27. //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2014668870/

The collection includes corresponding negatives for most of the images on the contact sheets, which enables researchers to purchase quality digital images. P&P staff members who processed the collection selected a variety of negatives to digitize in order to give a flavor of the collection. Here is just a small sample of what you can find in the CQ Roll Call Photograph Collection:

Kansas Senator Nancy Kassebaum (center) with guests at her retirement party including (left to right) senators Kay Bailey Hutchison, Barbara Mikulski, Carol Moseley-Braun and Sheila Frahm. Photo by Laura Patterson, September 1996. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ds.07219

Kansas Senator Nancy Kassebaum (center) with guests at her retirement party including (left to right) senators Kay Bailey Hutchison, Barbara Mikulski, Carol Moseley-Braun and Sheila Frahm. Photo by Laura Patterson, September 1996. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ds.07219

President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela with members of the Congressional Black Caucus including Representative Kweisi Mfume, at an event at the Library of Congress. Photo by Maureen Keating, October 1994. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.38881

President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela with members of the Congressional Black Caucus including Representative Kweisi Mfume, at an event at the Library of Congress. Photo by Maureen Keating, October 1994. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.38881

Conservator Larry Keck standing in front of Emanuel Leutze's mural "Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way" in the U.S. Capitol. Photo by Ian Wagreich, December 1999. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.38862

Conservator Larry Keck standing in front of Emanuel Leutze’s mural “Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way” in the U.S. Capitol. Photo by Ian Wagreich, December 1999. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.38862

Sesame Street character Big Bird, standing with Representative Claude Harris and his staff member Ann Stritzinger. Photo by Maureen Keating, March 1991. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.38865

Sesame Street character Big Bird, standing with Representative Claude Harris and his staff member Ann Stritzinger. Photo by Maureen Keating, March 1991. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.38865

90-year-old political activist Doris "Granny D" Haddock speaking at a podium with others, outside the U.S. Capitol after her walk from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. in support of campaign finance reform. Photo by Tom Williams, February 2000. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.38894

90-year-old political activist Doris “Granny D” Haddock speaking at a podium with others, outside the U.S. Capitol after her walk from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. in support of campaign finance reform. Photo by Tom Williams, February 2000. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.38894

Arnold Schwarzenegger on Capitol Hill for an event related to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Photo by Maureen Keating, May 1991. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.38858

Arnold Schwarzenegger on Capitol Hill for an event related to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Photo by Maureen Keating, May 1991. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.38858

CQ Roll Call (part of the Economist Group) generously donated these images in 2011. P&P Curator of Photography, Beverly Brannan says “An initial sampling of the collection prior to acquisition convinced us that it would help us fulfill our mandate of serving Congress by documenting its activities, as well as meeting our objective of providing photographs to researchers as freely as possible. Preparing the collection for public use has borne out our hopes, revealing a range of issues, depth of coverage, and quality of images unprecedented in other public domain collections for this period.” The CQ segment of the collection, which remains to be processed, will be accessible in the future, promising still more familiar faces and new discoveries.

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One Comment

  1. Ellen
    June 18, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    I am pretty sure that Laura Patterson and Maureen Keating don’t remember me, I remember them when I worked there in 1994-1995.

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