• Black and white photo of six OSS recruits who watch an instructor shoot a small arm during training at Chopawamsic's Area C. [Source: National Park Service]
    Prince William Forest Park
     
     
    Secrets in the Forest
    Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to begin your training as a World War II spy in the forests of Prince William County, Virginia.
  • Urban Renewal in D.C.
     
     
    The Tivoli, a once grand movie theater, became a site for a massive debate over urban renewal in Columbia Heights in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • Mary Church Terrell
    Civil Rights History
     
     
    Mary Church Terrell's 1906 speech on race in Washington, D.C. was a scathing indictment of the city, which inspired generations of activists.
  • Kurt Cobain performs with Nirvana at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. on October 2, 1991.
    Music History
     
     
    Nirvana’s frenetic and sweaty performance at the 9:30 Club on October 2, 1991 occurred just a few weeks before they exploded into megastardom.
  • The Big Chair in Anacostia (Source: Flickr user stgermh. Used via Creative Commons license.)
    Strange But True
     
     
    In one of D.C.'s more creative publicity stunts, an Anacostia furniture store built a giant dining room chair and paid a local model to live on top of it for six weeks in the summer of 1960.

The Burning of Paper, Not Children: A Look at the Catonsville Nine

The Catonsville Nine after they got arrested after the action. Pictured are (l-r standing) George Mische, Philip Berrigan, Daniel Berrigan, Tom Lewis. (l-r seated) David Darst, Mary Moylan, John Hogan, Marjorie Melville, Tom Melville. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In 1968, nine members of the Catholic Faith entered a Selective Services office in the sleepy town of Catonsville, Maryland. They grabbed hundreds of draft files from the office and took them to the parking lot below, where they burned the files with homemade napalm. These people, known as the Catonsville Nine, represented one small part of the Catholic Left movement, yet became known nationwide for their action and commitment to their beliefs. 

The City That Was... And The City That Never Was

“The Indispensable Plan: 1791”  A painted portrait of what DC would have looked like if the city was laid out  exactly to L’Enfant’s plans. The image has red painted curtains framing  a familiar DC but with key differences. The colors are vibrant but there are a lack of people.

Walk up the spiral staircase at the GW Museum, take a right into the first gallery, and you will be met with a pair of large (5’ x 6’) bird-eye's-view paintings of Washington, DC. Both represent the capital city in the 1820s and, at first glance, the two works look very similar, with comparable coloring, landscape, and style. That’s not suprising as both were done by the same artist and, significantly, the two pieces share the same view – looking down on the District from Arlington Heights. But, upon closer examination, it becomes clear that the paintings represent different perspectives of the fledgling national Capitol – one aspirational, the other more realistic.

DC’s Most Underrated History Philanthropist

Albert Small in his later years. He stands in front of a  pairing of the National Mall/

In a city full of millions of people and a myriad of activities to take part in, a twenty-five-year-old Albert Small roamed the concrete jungle that was New York City in 1949. He was a bit bored without his beloved girlfriend, Shirley, by his side. Forced to occupy his time while Shirley worked her Saturday retail job to pay for school. Albert was left to his own devices. He was more used to the slower pace of his home in Washington, DC. The hustle and bustle of the people, noise, and sights of one of the world’s largest metropolises overwhelmed him at points. On this particular Saturday, Albert ducked into an antique bookstore as a means to escape the sensory overload that is the Big Apple. What he found changed his life. 

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?

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