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American History Programs

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at 6:45 PM

Get a taste of the 1920s as you sip some iconic period cocktails (Orange Blossom, anyone?) and hear from two of the co-founders of the Museum of the American Cocktail how determined drinkers thumbed their noses at the killjoys who tried to turn America dry.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 6:45 PM

Architect and historian Don Hawkins guides a tour of a Washington that never was as he looks at grand but unrealized plans for buildings and monuments that might have given the city a very different character.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 6:45 PM

In a lively musical presentation, period banjo specialist George Wunderlich traces the instrument’s roots in West Africa and the Caribbean, its introduction in America, and its flowering in the 19th century as the instrument crossed from black to white hands and from fields to stages.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 at 6:45 PM

Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Beasts, examines the tragic final crossing of the Lusitania, the disaster that steered America on the road to World War I.

Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 9:30 AM

How do you preserve and pass on a family history? Genealogy expert John Colletta explores how to use the facts you’ve discovered in research to craft a compelling narrative that tells the unique story of your family.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 6:45 PM

Though the Civil War is remembered for its land battles, naval engagements shaped a significant war on the water. Maritime historian Andrew Jampoler looks at the Union and Confederate naval leaders, strategies, ships, and battles that helped define the conflict’s outcome.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 7:00 PM

When the Civil War ended, thousands of American lives had been lost—and the nation itself had been changed forever. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James M. McPherson examines why the Civil War remains so deeply embedded in our national psyche and identity.

Saturday, April 4, 2015 at 7:00 AM

What was wartime life like in the capital of the Confederacy? Historians Ed Bearss and Gregg Clemmer lead a visit to sites related to the people, events, and atmosphere of Richmond during these years of conflict.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015 at 6:45 PM

Author Susan Butler tells the story of how the leaders of the capitalist and Communist worlds joined forces to defeat Hitler, and illuminates the unlikely but real alliance the two men forged.

Thursday, April 9, 2015 at 6:45 PM

The years from 1863 to 1873 were a tumultuous period for the city of Washington and a pivotal time for Walt Whitman’s career and private life. Local historian Garrett Peck examines the intersection of the changes that decade brought to the capital and the poet.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 6:45 PM

The McMillan Plan, an ambitious and influential early 20th-century urban planning agenda, shaped the National Mall and central Washington as we know today. Architectural curator Martin Moeller reviews its history, implementation, and impact. Participants can purchase an added bus tour that explores the neoclassical architecture of Washington’s “monumental core” on April 18.

Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 10:15 AM

If you like a Gershwin tune—and ones by Harry Warren, Hoagy Carmichael, and Richard Rodgers—join pianist and performer John Eaton to explore their lives and enduring works.

Saturday, April 18, 2015 at 7:00 AM

Hop aboard an early 20th-century self-propelled railcar called the Doodlebug and take in the spring sights along the historic Wilmington and Western Railroad line. Joe Nevin, a railroad historian, serves as the tour’s leader.

Monday, April 20, 2015 at 6:45 PM

Ralph Nurnberger, a professor of international relations at Georgetown University, explores the chilling stories and the historical impact of the murders of Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, and Kennedy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 6:45 PM

Kelly Conway, curator of American Glass at the Corning Museum of Glass, traces how technology, design, marketing, and shifting cultural aspirations came together to make Steuben Glass a name synonymous with modern elegance, superior quality, and glamour.

Sunday, April 26, 2015 at 8:00 AM

A single shot in Ford’s Theater on an April night in 1865 set off a dramatic chain of events, one of the most sensational of which was John Wilkes Booth’s flight from Washington. Civil War historian Ed Bearss traces his path from the District to Maryland to the Virginia barn where he met his death.

Thursday, April 30, 2015 at 6:45 PM

In the first of several programs on great trailblazers, Landon Jones, editor of The Essential Lewis and Clark, traces the triumphs and hardships of the most momentous of American expeditions.

Sunday, May 3, 2015 at 10:00 AM

The ironclad USS Monitor changed the course of the Civil War and naval combat forever. Historians and scientists, part of an ongoing conservation and research project at the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, examine the historic warship’s significance from a variety of perspectives.

Thursday, May 7, 2015 at 7:00 PM

The noted specialist on early America examines the colonies’ defiant insurgency for independence that had to be won in a difficult and uncertain war against a superpower.

Saturday, May 16, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Richard Bell of the University of Maryland, College Park, examines the turbulent years between 1829 and 1865, when Americans both enslaved and free built an abolition movement designed to bring slavery to its knees.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 6:45 PM

When the Union dissolved, Washington, D.C. was transformed—and that change profoundly affected the city’s women. Cokie Roberts discusses their experiences, influence, and contributions during this momentous period in her new book, Capital Dames.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at 7:30 AM

Join aviator and transportation expert Scott Hercik for a high-flying day that surveys the world of high-performance aircraft with visits to the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach and Naval Air Station Oceana, a master jet base.

Saturday, May 30, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Textile historian Dixie Rettig leads a visit to Fredericksburg that provides a highly personal look at the everyday experiences of the women who resolutely survived three Union occupations, cared for the wounded, and helped rebuild the town after the South’s defeat.

Thursday, June 4, 2015 at 7:00 PM

The best-selling author examines key actions and decisions of commanders on both sides of Sherman's legendary campaign, a sweep across Georgia that led to the final stroke of the Civil War.

Friday, June 5, 2015 at 8:00 AM

Stunning spring vistas, vintage locomotives, and West Virginia history are on the itinerary for a weekend spent riding the Cass Scenic Railroad and other mountain routes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015 at 7:30 AM

Join aviator and transportation expert Scott Hercik for a high-flying day that surveys the world of high-performance aircraft with visits to the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach and Naval Air Station Oceana, a master jet base.

Saturday, June 20, 2015 at 7:30 AM

Historians Ed Bearss and Gregg Clemmer lead a tour of Pennsylvania sites associated with Goerge Washington’s role in the French and Indian War, a conflict against which his early military career played out.

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