American History Programs
How Manhattan Became an Isle of Joy

Historian Mike Wallace takes a fascinating look at the confluence of social, economic, and creative forces that transformed New York City in the 1920s into a cultural mecca. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the rides at Coney Island, there was something for everyone.

Date
Monday, October 23, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Potomac Eagle: A Rail Ride Through the Trough
All-Day Tour

Squeezed between two Appalachian ridges, the south branch of the Potomac cuts through a narrow wooded West Virginia canyon known as the Trough. Traverse it with rail historian Joe Nevin on a tour that includes a 3 1/2-hour excursion on the diesel-powered Potomac Eagle along the route of the South Branch Valley Railroad from Petersburg to Romney.

Date
Saturday, October 28, 2017 - 10:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The Secret Revolution: Espionage, 1776 Style

Learn how George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and other leaders of the American Revolution used espionage, covert action, and other techniques to trick the British.  David Robarge, chief historian at the CIA, explores the secrets of the Revolutionary War.

Date
Monday, October 30, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Grisly World of Victorian Surgery

If you were unlucky enough to need surgery in the early 19th-century, you had more to fear than your malady: The procedure itself could kill you. Medical historian Lindsey Fitzharris leads a fascinating Halloween-night excursion into the germ-ridden, dirty, and often-deadly Victorian operating room, where your surgeon made up for his lack of skill by some fairly gruesome means.

Date
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Written Out of History

In the earliest days of our nation, a handful of unsung heroes—including women, slaves, and an Iroquois chief—pioneered the ideas that led to the Bill of Rights, the separation of powers, and the eventual abolition of slavery. Their largely forgotten stories are given a deserved airing by Utah Sen. Mike Lee.

Date
Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Prohibition in Washington, D.C.: Where the Noble Experiment Flopped

Prohibition came to the nation’s capital in 1917—three years earlier than the rest of the country. Despite the head start, Washington turned out to be a town that nurtured more than 3,000 speakeasies and where Congress had its own-in house bootlegger. Garrett Peck raises a toast to the centennial of the booze ban that wasn’t.

Date
Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Analyzing President Trump’s First Year: Twelve Months Unlike Any Other

On the 1-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s election, experts from media and politics offer a measured examination of the changes President Trump has brought and how the political landscape has changed in 12 tumultuous months.

Date
Thursday, November 2, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Harpers Ferry: American History in Brilliant Color
All-Day Tour

Grab your hiking boots and camera and take in the autumn beauty—and the local history—during an excursion led by historian Garrett Peck.

Date
Saturday, November 4, 2017 - 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
The Burr Conspiracy: An Early American Crisis of the Truth

What led Aaron Burr to be tried for treason in 1807? Historian James E. Lewis Jr. examines how partisan politics, biased newspapers, Thomas Jefferson—and Burr’s rumored plan to establish a new empire ruled by his daughter—all played a role in the former vice president’s public depiction as “the chief villain of the Founding Fathers.”

Date
Monday, November 6, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
From Swamp to Swank: A Walk Through Washington’s Gilded Age
Morning Tour

A guided walk through the Dupont Circle neighborhood provides glimpses of Washington’s social and architectural emergence from the post-Civil War years into the Gilded Age. Pass grand homes and visit other residences of the era including Heurich House and Anderson House.

Date
Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
From Swamp to Swank: A Walk Through Washington’s Gilded Age
Morning Tour

A guided walk through the Dupont Circle neighborhood provides glimpses of Washington’s social and architectural emergence from the post-Civil War years into the Gilded Age. Pass grand homes and visit other residences of the era including Heurich House and Anderson House.

Date
Saturday, November 11, 2017 - 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
American Novels of the ’20s

If you love discovering (or re-discovering) a book and sharing it with a friend, here’s a chance to do both by reading and discussing some iconic works of 1920s American literature. This session features Willa Cather’s The Professor’s House.

Date
Monday, November 13, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
The Lafayette Escadrille: Legends with a Cause

The brash young Americans who volunteered to fly with French fighter pilots during the early days of World War I became the nucleus of the legendary Lafayette Escadrille. Paul Glenshaw, an aviation expert and filmmaker, tells the story of the “founding fathers of American combat aviation” and offers preview clips from his documentary film about the Escadrille pilots.

Date
Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Code Girls: The Women Who Decrypted World War II

In 1942, more than 10,000 young women were recruited for a top-secret project in which they served as codebreakers for the U.S. Army and Navy. Their wartime achievements saved countless lives and aided the Allied victory—but were nearly erased from history. Author Liza Mundy rescues the code girls’ amazing story.

Date
Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Thomas Paine: Revolutions of a Founding Father

He was admired for helping to ignite the fight for independence in the Colonies, but when Thomas Paine died in June 1809 only a dozen people came to his funeral. Historian Richard Bell examines the reasons behind Paine’s meteoric rise to celebrity status during the American Revolution and his equally dramatic fall from grace in the decades afterward.

Date
Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
From Swamp to Swank: A Walk Through Washington’s Gilded Age
Morning Tour

A guided walk through the Dupont Circle neighborhood provides glimpses of Washington’s social and architectural emergence from the post-Civil War years into the Gilded Age. Pass grand homes and visit other residences of the era including Heurich House and Anderson House.

Date
Friday, November 17, 2017 - 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Write the Stories of Your Ancestors

You’ve gathered information about your ancestors. It’s time to share their stories. Leading genealogy expert John Colletta explores the many ways to assemble and write the saga of a family.

Date
Saturday, December 2, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Bethlehem: America’s Christmas City
Overnight Tour

There’s no better place to get into the spirit of the season than charming Bethlehem, nestled in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. Stroll through the European-inspired Christkindlmarkt for some gift shopping, enjoy the holiday lights of Main Street at night, and visit sites that reflect the city’s strong Moravian traditions and industrial history.

Date
Depart: Sunday, December 3, 2017 - 7:00 a.m.
Return: Monday, December 4, 2017 - 8:00 p.m.
Christmas with the First Ladies: The Sweetest Traditions

Spend an afternoon with professional decorator and author Coleen Christian Burke as she covers the traditions of White House holiday decorating, brings you behind the scenes as the seasonal transformation takes place, and shares how modern first ladies from Jacqueline Kennedy to Michelle Obama have lent their distinctive styles and creativity to guiding the seasonal themes.

Date
Sunday, December 3, 2017 - 2:00 p.m.
The Battle of Cedar Creek
All-Day Tour

Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley was both a crucial invasion route and the breadbasket for the Confederacy during the Civil War, and as a result, it was a much-fought-over region. Join author and historian Garrett Peck on a daylong tour of the last major battle in the Shenandoah Valley.

Date
Saturday, December 9, 2017 - 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Unpublished Black History: Rediscovered Images from the New York Times

A cache of photos uncovered in the New York Times archives in 2016 documents  events and personalities that shed light on African American history over the past several decades. Join Darcy Eveleigh, photo editor at the Times, and Rachel Swarns, a contributing writer for the newspaper, for look at these previously unseen photos and the story behind their rediscovery.

Date
Monday, December 11, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
American Novels of the ’20s

If you love discovering (or re-discovering) a book and sharing it with a friend, here’s a chance to do both by reading and discussing some iconic works of 1920s American literature. This session features Jessie Redmon Fauset’s Plum Bun.

Date
Monday, December 18, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.