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Moments in Senate History
Photographs of Senate Life

The Senate Historical Office maintains a large collection of photographs and other images, acquired from such sources as news agencies, historical societies, libraries, and senators' families. The foundation of this collection was set in 1977, when the family of Senate photographer Arthur E. "Scotty" Scott donated his personal collection to the Senate.

Photograph of senators standing on the Capitol steps.
U.S. Senate, 43rd Congress
photo of senators practicing karate
Senatorial Karate Class

Although the Capitol has been a popular subject for photographers since 1846, the first congressional forays into institutional photography did not take place for another century, when the political parties began hiring and paying their own photographers. In 1955, Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) hired professional photographer Arthur E. Scott to work for the Republican Senatorial Committee. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Scott worked in a variety of Senate offices snapping formal and informal poses of senators in committee, with constituents or celebrities, and performing other senatorial duties.

When the Senate Historical Office was created in 1975, Scott became the Senate's first "photo historian." After his death in 1977, Scott's widow arranged for his personal photographic collection—some 30,000 negatives and prints—to be donated to the Historical Office. This donation became the foundation for a large collection that now includes more than 50,000 still pictures, slides, and negatives. This website includes several photographic exhibits that illustrate the institutional history of the Senate and chronicle the careers of senators.

Past Feature Articles

Senate Historical Office

Historical information provided by the Senate Historical Office.

Senate's Institutional History

It was up to the first Senate in 1789 to organize, establish its rules, and set precedents that would govern its actions in years to come, evolving into a complex legislative body.