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Senate Reception Room overview

The "Famous Five" Now the "Famous Nine"

In 1957, Senators John F. Kennedy, Richard Russell, Mike Mansfield, Styles Bridges, and John Bricker formed a committee to choose the five "most outstanding" former senators, whose portraits would adorn the U.S. Capitol's Senate Reception Room.  The committee deliberated for two years before choosing the "Famous Five."  In 2000, the Senate chose two more deserving senators, creating the "Famous Seven." In 2006, a portrait of Oliver Ellsworth and Roger Sherman was added to the collection, creating the "Famous Nine."


Women in the Senate

Rebecca Felton, appointed to fill a vacancy, became the first woman senator in 1922, when she served for just 24 hours.  Hattie Wyatt Caraway of Arkansas, initially appointed to fill a vacancy, became the first woman elected to the Senate in 1932. As of January 3, 2007, 35 women have served as U.S. senators.

Photograph of Senator Hiram Revels

Ethnic Diversity in the Senate

How many ethnic minorities have served in the Senate? This list includes all African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans and North American Indians who have served in the United States Senate.  

Photo of Sam Ervin

Appointed Senators

The 17th Amendment to the Constitution (1913) established direct election of senators, as well as a means of filling vacant Senate seats. If a vacancy occurs due to a senator's death, resignation, or expulsion, the 17th Amendment allows state legislatures to empower the governor to appoint a replacement to complete the term or to hold office until a special election can take place. This list of appointed senators includes name, state, party, date of appointment, and whether or not the person was subsequently elected to the seat.

Image of Senator Robert Hayne

Senators Representing Third or Minor Parties

While most U.S. senators have been affiliated with one of the major political parties, many members of the Senate have represented a third or other minor party. This list provides the names, service dates, and political party affiliation of the Senate's many independent members.  

View of S-1's Spine

Senate Salaries since 1789

Congress sets the salaries of the President, Supreme Court justices, as well as Representatives and Senators, and the Constitution requires that those salaries be paid from the national treasury. During the First Congress, Senators and Representatives set their salary at six dollars per diem for every day that Congress met. In 1856, Congress set an annual salary for its members, replacing the old per diem pay system.  


Senators Who Became President

To date, sixteen senators have also served as president of the United States. Three senators, Warren G. Harding, John F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama moved directly from the U.S. Senate to the White House. 

Edward Brooke

Featured Biographies

Since it first convened in 1789, nearly 2000 individuals have served in the United States Senate. The following featured biographies provide a look at the varied experiences and accomplishments of some of these individuals, highlighting the Senate service of selected U.S. senators.


Senate Historical Office

Historical information provided by the Senate Historical Office.

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

The Directory provides information about former and current senators.


Historical Photographs

The Senate Historical Office maintains a collection of approximately 30,000 still pictures, slides, and negatives, including photographs and illustrations of most former senators, news photographs, editorial cartoons, photographs of committees in session, and other images documenting Senate history.

Historical Statistics

Explore Senate history through historical tables and statistics.