Tours & Speakers Bureau
Walking Tours of the Capitol Exterior: Every Monday morning (March-November) the Society’s staff and trained volunteers lead visitors on a walk around the outside of the building, providing anecdotes and perspectives about the Congress, the origin and construction of the building itself, and the meaning of the democratic form of government.
Named “Best Specialty Tour” in Washingtonian Magazine’s 2009 “Best of” Issue.
The tour explains why it took nearly 40 years to build the original Capitol building, why and how it has been continually enlarged since then, famous incidents and crucial events that have taken place inside, the scope and purpose of the new Capitol Visitor Center underground, the daily activities that occur in and around the building, and the history and purpose of the buildings that make up the Capitol complex.
The purpose of the Society’s Walking Tour is to supplement and enhance the experience for Capitol visitors. This tour is a different experience from tours of the Capitol interior offered by Congressional offices and the Capitol Guide Service.
When: Every Monday, March through November
Time: 10:00am for approximately 2 hours
Meeting Place: Union State Metro, Massachusetts Avenue exit, top of outside escalator
Cost: $10.00 per person (children 10 and under half price; under 6, free) Cash only. The fee is collected at the beginning of the tour. Members receive one complimentary walking tour.
No reservations required. Tours go regardless of the weather.
Reserved group tours are available by request, and may be paid by check or credit card. or call 202-543-8919.
- Union Station, the greatest train station in the world
- The Senate Park Commission and the City Beautiful movement’s effect in the nation’s capital
- The concept of a Capitol
- The Capitol complex today
- Choosing the site
- Construction history
- The Senate extension
- The Capitol Grounds
- The plan of the city
- The original sandstone building: Senate wing, Library of Congress, Rotunda, House wing
- Constructing the extensions and dome
- The House extension
- Dome and the Statue of Freedom
- How to tour the public areas of the interior and see the Houses of Congress in session
- Contacting your Congresspeople and Senators
- Where to have lunch
- Other sights to see and tour nearby
The guide will also be available after the tour to answer questions.
Congressional Offices: Many offices of members of the Senate and the House of Representatives provide tours for constituents. These offices may also reserve public tours. Contact your Senator at senate.gov, or your Representative at house.gov.
Public Tours: Tours of the U.S. Capitol are available through the Capitol Visitor Center, which is open Monday through Saturday 8:30am – 4:30pm. Visit their website here for more information and to reserve a tour in advance.
Seeing Congress in Session: Most sessions of Congress are open to the public. Visitors may see the Senate and House of Representatives when they are in session by obtaining Gallery Passes through the offices of their Senators or Representative. Contact your Senator at senate.gov, or your Representative at house.gov
“I was literally enthralled. What was it that engaged me so totally? … It wasn’t what he shared so much as how he shared it that seemed key–his reverence and passion for the Capitol came through loud and clear. … It charged everything he had to say with added importance, causing all to sit up and listen.”
Washington DC adult student, March 5, 2002
Society senior staff and volunteer speakers are available to present programs about the history of the Capitol and the Congress; tax-exempt donations to the Society are accepted in lieu of honoraria. These programs are generally available by reservation for events and meetings in the Washington area. The speakers have extensive experience in the Capitol, and include Former Members of Congress, Congressional staff, government relations professionals, and historians.
To book a speaker, or to obtain more information about the USCHS Speakers Bureau, contact or @ 202-543-8919 ext. 17.
Speakers available through the U.S. Capitol Historical Society’s Speakers Bureau include:
- Ron Sarasin, President, U.S. Capitol Historical Society, Former Member of Congress
- Tom Coleman, Vice President for Federal Government Relations, BASF Corporation; Chairman, U.S. Capitol Historical Society; Former Member of Congress
- Donnald K. Anderson, Clerk of the House Emeritus, United States House of Representatives
- Donald R. Kennon, Chief Historian, U.S. Capitol Historical Society
- Steve Livengood, Chief Guide and Public Programs Manager, U.S. Capitol Historical Society
To book a speaker, or to obtain more information about the USCHS Speakers Bureau, contact or @ 202-543-8919 x17.
A sample of speech topics includes:
Temple of Democracy: the history of the founding of the US government, the construction of the Capitol building, and the triumph of democracy. Sets a tone of reverence for a visit to the Capitol building or a meeting in the Nation’s Capital. Speaker: Steve Livengood
The Role of the Lobbyist in Contemporary America: Public perception of the lobbyist still is that of a person who goes around Capitol Hill with a black bag full of money trying to buy influence. New legislation, changes in the political landscape, new technologies, and the growing global economy have dramatically altered the practice of lobbying in the past generation. Speaker: Tom Coleman
How Our Laws Are Really Made: An inside view of the democratic process as practiced on Capitol Hill from the perspective of a 40-year career as a lobbyist. The public knows that the Congress makes the laws and that individual Members are the center of that process, but most citizens are not aware of the crucial roles of Congressional staff and of lobbyists. Lobbyists have a bad name in the popular press, but they play a constructive role in effective government.
Presidential Inaugurations at the U.S. Capitol: The democratic ritual of presidential inaugurations at the Capitol reinforces the stability and continuity of the American representative form of government in which change occurs peacefully and at regularly scheduled intervals. The history of inaugurations is also rich in anecdote and detail. Speaker: Donald R. Kennon
To book a speaker, or to obtain more information about the USCHS Speakers Bureau, contactor @ 202-543-8919 x17.