Week 11:
Face to Face with History

Tomlinson Fellow in Representative Government

Congressional Office of David Loebsack (D-IA 2) | Washington, D.C.

July 23, 2016

Last week was fairly typical in my fellowship. I was tasked with answering the phones as well as logging constituent mail and giving tours of the Capitol to constituents who came in. Nothing was any different until the weekend.

Since I have always been a student and lover of history, with a special love reserved for our nation’s history, I have tried to find locations in Washington D.C. where I can learn more about our past and things that I don’t know as much about. This desire for knowledge has led me to such places as the Woodrow Wilson House.

Last Saturday I decided that my next stop would be the Frederick Douglass House. This was the house where Frederick Douglass lived from the 1870’s until his death. Frederick Douglass had always fascinated me as an individual, with his being one of the few African-American leaders of the time who was respected by both races and parties. Seeing as how I did not know as much about his life as I would have liked to, this seemed like a good place to visit. I learned about his hardships at this museum and home, as well about his fun side, learning that he used to let his granddaughters braid his long hair and tie ribbons into it. I cannot imagine what he would have looked like. The only negative about the museum was that we were not allowed to take pictures inside, leaving my mental images as the only memories of the house.

While Saturday night was spent having dinner with an old friend from the Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign, Sunday was spent at the National Postal Museum. This was the museum that I was most skeptical of. Although I have great respect for all of the work that is done by postal employees and care about the rich history of their trade, I didn’t know if it would make for the most interesting museum. I was very wrong. It provided a history of the U.S. postal system as I expected it to, covering everything from the famous Pony Express to our current method of delivering mail. They had artifacts on display that showed how far our country has come in terms of delivering mail. The most interesting aspect, though, was the display of mail and stamps. They had mail that had flown with Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, as well as mail that was retrieved from the Hindenburg and had been on the moon. They also had the worlds’ first ever postage stamp on display, as well as the first ever American stamp. The negative there was how difficult it was to see them, since it was very dark, in order to protect the stamps from the light.

Next week I hope to visit Abraham Lincoln’s cottage as well as the Watergate complex. I hope that they are as interesting as the ones from last week.

Havens Professional Headshot

Andrew Havens '17

Andrew is a politics major from Hickory Hills, Illinois.