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American History Programs

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at 10:15 AM

Do the seductive agents in spy thrillers who deploy their very personal powers of persuasion really exist? In a 4-part series, historians and former intelligence officers share the stories of magnetic and charming spies who used the bedroom as their base of operations.

Monday, February 9, 2015 at 6:45 PM

The nation’s founders shaped the philosophical and political vision of a newly independent republic. Pierre L’Enfant translated that vision into physical reality. Author Scott W. Berg examines L’Enfant’s work in the artistic and political context of his times, and how his enduring influence is reflected in today’s Washington.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 6:45 PM

The roots of Mardi Gras, like those of New Orleans itself, are complex, rich, and wonderfully varied. Historian Emily Landau guides you through a lively social history of this pre-Lenten celebration—and offers a king cake tasting, too.

Saturday, February 21, 2015 at 10:00 AM

How did African American people in the Revolutionary era pursue happiness? Historian Richard Bell examines a familiar period from the less-familiar perspective of its enslaved peoples and free persons of color.

Tuesday, February 24, 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.

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.

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