U.S. Capitol Visitor Center

Welcome to the U.S. Capitol

Special Tours and Activities

From Petitions to Politicians: A Look at Women’s Fight for Civil Rights

Short Talks in Exhibition HallNo reservations or passes are required to attend these 15-minute talks which will be held in Exhibition Hall on the lower level of the Capitol Visitor Center.

While many historians consider the 1848 Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, the beginning of the woman’s suffrage movement, women organized their efforts to improve their condition and promote social justice for all long before 1848. Join experts from the National Archives, the Capitol Visitor Center and the United States Senate as they expound on the rich, evolving history of women’s fight for civil rights.

Thursday, February 11
1 p.m.
Matt Field, Exhibits and Education Program Specialist at the Capitol Visitor Center, talks about Reconstruction, one of the most important eras in American history, and how congressional decision-making in that era powerfully affected the women’s suffrage movement.

Thursday, February 18
1 p.m.
Women played a major role in the abolition of slavery. They wrote articles for abolitionist papers, circulated abolitionist pamphlets, and circulated, signed, and delivered petitions to Congress calling for the end of slavery. Martha Grove, Archivist at the National Archives, talks about women’s petition campaigns and women’s roles as abolitionists.

Thursday, February 19
1 p.m.
In 1865, Congress created the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, to provide for the needs of formerly enslaved African Americans. Operating within the War Department, the Bureau attempted to assist those newly freed with food, medical care, employment, and education. Matthew Field, Program Specialist at the Capitol Visitor Center, weaves a story of tragedy and triumph as he explains the life and impact of the Bureau.

Thursday, February 25
1 p.m.
Frederick Douglass, one of the few men who attended the woman’s rights convention held at Seneca Falls, New York, championed the cause of equal rights for women until his death in 1895. Adam Berenbak, Archivist at the National Archives, talks about Frederick Douglass and his support for the women’s suffrage movement. 

Thursday, March 3
1 p.m.
Leading off a new congressional session in early December of 1868, Senator Samuel Pomeroy of Kansas introduced a universal suffrage amendment based on citizenship that included both African Americans and women. When other congressional leaders decided the new amendment should focus solely on African-American males, Senator Pomeroy introduced another amendment for women’s suffrage the following year. Betty Koed, Historian for the United States Senate, talks about Senator Pomeroy and his fight to give women the right to vote.

Tuesday, March 15
1 p.m.
In the early 1900s, census figures estimated that nearly two million children were employed in manufacturing, agriculture, mines, stores and on city streets. As Americans became aware of the problem, many—especially many women—petitioned Congress in support of legislation that would protect children from hard labor. Judith Adkins, Archivist at the National Archives, speaks about these petition campaigns and how they contributed to the passage of the Keating-Owen Act, the first child labor law.


Brumidi Corridors Tours

North Brumindi CorridorA special tour of the Brumidi Corridors on the first floor of the Senate wing of the Capitol enables visitors to view and learn about the ornate paintings on the walls and ceilings designed by Constantino Brumidi between 1857 and 1859. This tour, which lasts approximately 30 minutes, is offered Monday through Friday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. No reservations are needed. Get passes for this tour at one of the Information Desks on the lower level of the Visitor Center.

Extraordinary Ordinary People: Sumner in The Old Senate Chamber

Monday through Friday 1 p.m.

Through the art of storytelling, learn about Senator Charles Sumner’s fight for civil rights. Get passes at one of the Information Desks on the lower level of the Visitor Center. Some walking involved. This 25-minute program begins at the entrance to Exhibition Hall

What’s Happening in the Chambers?

Find out how to visit the visitor galleries of the House of Representatives and the Senate. This short program is offered at noon, Monday through Friday. No passes or reservations are needed. Inquire at Exhibition Hall.

Capitol Visitor Center Encounter

Monday through Saturday, throughout the day, interpreters in Exhibition Hall and Emancipation Hall use hands-on objects to tell a variety of stories about the Capitol and Congress including how enslaved laborers helped build the Capitol, the Dome Restoration Project, civil rights legislation, and the Capitol Rotunda. No passes or reservations are needed.