• Bomb damage to US Capitol, 1915. (Library of Congress)
    U.S. Capitol Bombing
     
     
    In a span of less than 12 hours, a German college professor set off a bomb in the U.S. Capitol and assaulted J.P. Morgan at his home on Long Island.
  • The real life "Smokey the Bear," shown here frolicking in a pool at the National Zoo c.1950, was the embodiment of a fire safety public awareness campaign that started during World War II. (Photo credit: Francine Schroeder, Smithsonian Institution Archives. Used for educational purposes in accordance with the Smithsonian Archives terms of use.)
    Strange But True
     
     
    How did Smokey the Bear come to have his very own personal Washington, D.C. zipcode? Glad you asked.
  • Did You Know?
     
     
    Before the northern section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway was built in the 1950s, Arlington was home to a village of Italian quarrymen, accessible only by footpath.
  • Washington Post Headline
    Fact or Fiction?
     
     
    Though the government discounted them, sightings of apparent flying saucers over Washington, DC were big news in the summer of 1952.

We'wha Visits the Capital

We'wha weaving (Source: Wikipedia)

Before 1885, We’wha had never seen a city, and the city of Washington, D.C. had never seen a person quite like We’wha. Alongside being a pottery maker and cultural ambassador, We’wha was a lhamana, who in the Zuni tradition are male-bodied people who also possess female attributes. Existing outside of the Western gender binary, lhamana have always inhabited a special role in Zuni society, as intermediaries between men and women, who perform special cultural and spiritual duties. More recent scholarship coined the term Two Spirit "as a means of unifying various gender identities and expressions of Native American / First Nations / Indigenous individuals."

A white rectangular poster depicts a message handwritten by a Gallaudet student during the “Deaf President Now” protests. “To Board of Trustees” is written at the top of the poster followed by an image of a coiled red snake. Below the snake is a statement in capital letters that reads “Don’t tread on Gallaudet we want a deaf presidents now and demand four things. Deaf never give up.”

Bet on Gallaudet

Against the backdrop of the city, Gallaudet University students, faculty, and alumni transformed their campus protest into a national fight for civil rights, refusing to accept anything less than a “Deaf President Now.” 

The First Sting

Lt. Robert Arscott and the Operation Sting team sit amid stolen goods

In 1976 D.C. police dressed as cartoon Mafiosos and bought millions in stolen goods from local thieves. They called it "Operation Sting," and soon police across the country were launching "sting operations" of their own. But not everyone was so enamored with the tactic, especially the communities it was being used to target.

The Saengerbund Clubhouse: Parties, Concerts, and Bowling

“Washington Sängerbund in 1862.” https://www.saengerbund.org/history.html

The Washington Saengerbund was officially established on April 20th, 1851, and has gone on to become the longest enduring German singing society in the District. From 1874 to 1893, the society met above Charles “Baldy” Dismer’s restaurant at 708 K St. NW in Mount Vernon Square. During that time, the organization enjoyed exponential growth, consisting of nearly 500 members both active and passive by 1894. This influx of members created an evident need for the society to have its own clubhouse, and this dream became a reality in November 1893 when the Saengerbund purchased a house at 314 C Street NW, which would become the site of many extravagent parties, concerts, and bowling matches for the next 27 years.

1898 pen-and-ink drawing of a periodical cicada's life cycle

Brood X in the Eighteenth-Century Headlines

As a historian, seeing the media “buzz” surrounding cicadas makes me wonder how our ancestors reacted to their periodical swarms. Who were the first people to realize what was going on? Did they understand the seventeen-year cycle? Were they afraid, curious, or unbothered? As I suspected, Washington-area locals have been fascinated by Brood X for a very long time. 

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