• Strange But True
     
     
    The Italian dictator was captured, executed and buried in his home country in 1945. So why did his brain end up at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington?
  • Image of the ground level buildings at Arlington Radio Station, surrounded by the radio towers.
    The Arlington Radio Towers
     
     
    Arlington, Virginia was once home to one of the most powerful radio stations in history, helping to usher in an era of wireless communications worldwide
  • Test tubes containing bovine tubercular bacteria. (Source: Library of Congress)
    World War I German Sabotage
     
     
    During World War I, German saboteurs cultivated anthrax and glanders germ cultures in the basement of a home in Upper Northwest Washington, D.C.
  • Helen Hayes
    Desegregation in Washington
     
     
    Helen Hayes is known for her acting, not her activism. But in 1948, she was one of many artists who took a stand against segregation in D.C. theaters.
  • Soldiers in trenches train for gas exposure with masks on and smoke billowing over their heads as they move (source: National Archives)
    World War I History
     
     
    The use of land on American University's campus and in Spring Valley for chemical testing during World War I left reminders of war a century later.
A group from Ecuador marches to Kalorama Park during 1971 Latino Festival. (Source: Reprinted with permission of the DC Public Library, Star Collection © Washington Post)

"¡Tirarlo a la calle!": D.C.'s Latino Festival of 1971

On August 1, 1971, as attendees walked through the brightly-colored and slightly cramped booths, the smell of freshly-made food, the sound of voices young, old, and everything in-between filled the park, and the sense that everyone here belonged followed them. The festival wasn’t as large as the ones that would follow, for sure, but what it offered to guests was overwhelming: a feeling of camaraderie and community. The vendors and many of the attendees had different accents, different cultures, and different histories, but in Kalorama Park, they all shared the joy of showcasing their countries’ traditions. 

This was the Latino Festival of 1971, which would begin a long tradition of celebrating Latino culture in Washington, D.C.

La Dame qui Boite (The Limping Woman)

Virginia Hall receiving the Distinguished Service Cross (the second highest military honor given by the American government and the highest award a civilian can receive) by the head of the OSS, William Donovan.

Trekking through the thick winter snow of the Pyrenees mountain range, Virginia Hall struggled with each passing step. After thirteen months in war-torn France with insufficient access to food, heating, and clothes, the once striking thirty-six-year-old lost the glow of youth. Hardened by the death, loss, and destruction, she witnessed at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators, she was determined to complete the arduous journey through the mountain range that separated occupied France from neutral Spain.

Jousting Over Maryland's State Sport

Renaissance-era depiction of a jousting. (Paulus Hector Mair, de arte athletica, 1540s from Wikipedia).

The battle lines were drawn anew early in February 1988. The knights stood together, clad in mail and livery, and braced their lances in readiness. For more than twenty-five years, they had desperately defended their title against the onslaughts of the enemy. Once more, the enemy was in the capitol, and once more the knights of the Maryland Jousting Tournament Association would resist the dishonor of lacrosse becoming the official state sport.

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?

Reston's Roots: Black Activism in Virginia's New Town

Welcome to Reston: An Open Community Brochure (Courtesy of Reston Historic Trust & Museum)

Around the same time that Walt Disney envisioned a futuristic alternative to urban living—EPCOT (The Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow)—a man named Robert E. Simon Jr. dreamed of a better way to live in the suburbs. It was an era of hope when many were asking: “Through careful planning, innovate design, and high ideals, can we manufacture a better way to live?”

View of Blair House surrounded by trees

What's in a Name? Silver Spring

How did Silver Spring, Maryland land one of the prettiest, most mystical-sounding names in the Washington, D.C. area? Was there really a magical silver spring that once flowed through the area? Is it as pretty and idyllic as it sounds? Actually, that's exactly where the name comes from: a "silver spring."

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