DC

Two men placing the Declaration of Independence into the new display case at the National Archives (Source: National Archives)

The Action-Packed History of the Declaration of Independence

Washington, D.C. has been the backdrop for a number of films and TV shows throughout its history. But, at least in my lifetime, one movie just about everyone has seen is National Treasure. Known for its witty characters and adventure-packed plot centered around a heist of the Declaration of Independence. But, perhaps more surprising than the quest to steal the Declaration is the fact that it was still around to nab when the movie came out in 2004. Indeed, the Declaration’s real-life 200+ year journey from its creation in 1776 to its current display in the National Archives Rotunda gives the plot of National Treasure quite the run for its money.

A photographic portrait of Lucy Diggs Slowe

Howard University's First Dean of Women Had to Fight to Keep Her Brookland Home

Returning to campus for the new school year in 1937, Howard University’s students received grim news: one of their deans, Lucy Diggs Slowe, was “reputed critically ill with pleurisy. Her condition was such on Tuesday that relatives were called to her bedside.” After 15 years at the university, Slowe was a staple to the campus and its students – many of the women enrolled at the college saw her has a mentor and advocate for their education at Howard. 

What the headline didn’t mention was what some believed was the cause of her declining health. There were rumblings that it was the efforts of key Howard University staff that had caused her illness, and they wouldn’t stop until Slowe left the school for good. 

Who was Lucy Diggs Slowe, and what led to such harsh conflict between her and the university?

The Dangerous Ghosts of WWI Research in Spring Valley

Photograph showing the mystery location of the 'Hades' pit in future Spring Valley neighborhood, where World War I munitions were buried after the war's end. (source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

On January 7, 1993, an alarming headline greeted readers of The Washington Post: “25 HOUSES EVACUATED AS WWI SHELLS EXAMINED.” The previous day, a backhoe operator digging a trench in the Spring Valley neighborhood of Northwest Washington had uncovered a suspicious object. The construction company called the D.C. Fire Department… who called the police… who called the bomb squad. Within hours, 25 homes in the upscale neighborhood had been temporarily evacuated as munitions crews from the Army Technical Escort Unit at Aberdeen Proving Grounds investigated. Their verdict? The objects were unexploded mortar and artillery shells – and there might be more in the area.

View of the Phillips Collection building in DC

America's First Modern Art Museum

The country’s first modern art museum was established 100 years ago in a Dupont Circle townhouse. And since the Phillips Collection celebrated its centenary last year, it’s a great time to remind Washingtonians that their city has a rich art history—largely exemplified by the story of this museum.

When the Willard Hotel served as the White House

The Presidential Flag flew outside the Willard Hotel when President Calvin Coolidge stayed there in 1923.

For the first weeks of his presidency, Calvin Coolidge conducted business from a different iconic D.C. residence — the Willard Hotel. The Coolidges lived at the hotel while he was Vice President and they waited to move to the White House until Warren Harding’s family had time to move out after he died in office.

John Collier's Conference at the Cosmos Club

Madison Place in the early 1900s

By 1934, BIA Commissioner John Collier believed that land allotment and other policies meant to help Native Americans were doing more harm than good, and he wanted to reverse them through an ambitious bill known as the Indian Reorganization Act (also called the Wheeler-Howard Act). Collier’s bill would not only nullify the land allotment policy, but it would also allow Native American tribes to govern themselves, decentralize the BIA, consolidate Native land, and transfer Indigenous children from boarding schools to day schools.

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