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American History Programs
The Double Lives of Jack Barsky: The Spy Next Door

Forged identities, a smokescreen suburban life, and wives and children on two continents were all elements of Jack Barsky’s career as a KGB operative in America. Vince Houghton of the International Spy Museum interviews Barsky about his immersion in espionage, juggling allegiances, and assembling a new life after decades as spy.

Date
Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
Defending the Capital: Civil War Forts and Fortifications
All-Day Tour

Civil War historians Ed Bearss and Gregg Clemmer lead a tour that traces the Union capital’s vital role in the conflict, focusing on the sites of forts and defensive fortifications in Maryland, Virginia, and the District. 

Date
Saturday, April 1, 2017 - 8:00 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.
The American Civil War and the World

Far from being a domestic conflict, the Civil War was closely watched by other countries. Paul Quigley, director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies, explores international perspectives on the war, ranging from ideological affinities to economic calculations to strategic considerations.

Date
Tuesday, April 4, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
The Rise of the Airplane: From the Wright Brothers to Lindbergh

Aviation expert Paul Glenshaw explores the scientific, cultural, and social contexts for the invention and development of the airplane and how a critical period early in the last century launched the wild ride we’ve been on ever since.

Date
Thursday, April 6, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
The Civil War: Three Key Sites - Harpers Ferry, Antietam, and Gettysburg
All-Day Tour

Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania were the settings for some of the most momentous events of the Civil War. During this introductory tour led by historian Gregg Clemmer, learn about and explore the sites of three major battles in our region.

Date
Saturday, April 8, 2017 - 8:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
George Washington’s Alexandria
Morning Walking Tour

No other town is as closely associated with George Washington as Alexandria, which he considered his home town. He surveyed its streets as a teenager in 1749, and his public memorial service was held here 50 years later. Join author and historian Garrett Peck on a tour that visits churches, houses, taverns, and other sites associated with the first president.

Date
Saturday, April 15, 2017 - 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Reading the Gilded Age Authors

Works by novelists Edith Wharton, Henry James, Theodore Dreiser, and Anzia Yezierska provide literary perspectives on the changes that swept America during the Gilded Age. Lisbeth Strimple Fuisz of Georgetown University leads a reading-group series that explores their varied depictions of characters whose personal dramas play out against rapidly shifting social, cultural, and economic backdrops. This session spotlights Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie (1900).

Date
Monday, April 17, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
George Washington’s Alexandria
Afternoon Walking Tour

No other town is as closely associated with George Washington as Alexandria, which he considered his home town. He surveyed its streets as a teenager in 1749, and his public memorial service was held here 50 years later. Join author and historian Garrett Peck on a tour that visits churches, houses, taverns, and other sites associated with the first president.

Date
Friday, April 21, 2017 - 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Andrew Jackson and the Rise of the Democratic Party

Historians are fascinated by Andrew Jackson, a complex man whose forceful personality (he was universally known as “Old Hickory”) influenced the political culture of his time as he dominated both the presidency and Congress for two terms (1828-36). Historian Stephen D. Engle revisits the Jackson presidency and how it relates to our current political culture.

Date
Saturday, April 22, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
George Washington’s Alexandria
Afternoon Walking Tour

No other town is as closely associated with George Washington as Alexandria, which he considered his home town. He surveyed its streets as a teenager in 1749, and his public memorial service was held here 50 years later. Join author and historian Garrett Peck on a tour that visits churches, houses, taverns, and other sites associated with the first president.

Date
Sunday, April 23, 2017 - 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Radio Finds Its Voice

Jill Ahrold Bailey, producer of “The Big Broadcast” on WAMU 88.5, tunes into an era in which Americans became linked by a new and booming medium, as radio dramatically—and quickly—changed the entertainment, news, and political scenes.

Date
Monday, April 24, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
George Washington’s Alexandria
Afternoon Walking Tour

No other town is as closely associated with George Washington as Alexandria, which he considered his home town. He surveyed its streets as a teenager in 1749, and his public memorial service was held here 50 years later. Join author and historian Garrett Peck on a tour that visits churches, houses, taverns, and other sites associated with the first president.

Date
Sunday, April 30, 2017 - 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
New Market and Fisher’s Hill
All-Day Tour

Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley was both a crucial invasion route and the breadbasket for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Author and historian Garrett Peck leads a tour of two critical 1864 battlefields in the region.

Date
Saturday, May 6, 2017 - 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
The Ride to Yellow Tavern: Stuart Confronts Sheridan
All-Day Tour

Ed Bearss and Gregg Clemmer retrace an epic 1864 campaign across Virginia’s central Piedmont that ended in a battle between Union and Confederate forces outside Richmond.

Date
Saturday, May 13, 2017 - 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Great River Expeditions

The mystery and adventurous allure of distant rivers held a fascination for American explorers of the 19th and early-20th centuries. Author and maritime historian Andy Jampoler recounts true stories of voyages of discovery along the Congo and Amazon and to the Dead Sea.

Date
Saturday, May 13, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Reading the Gilded Age Authors

Works by novelists Edith Wharton, Henry James, Theodore Dreiser, and Anzia Yezierska provide literary perspectives on the changes that swept America during the Gilded Age. Lisbeth Strimple Fuisz of Georgetown University leads a reading-group series that explores their varied depictions of characters whose personal dramas play out against rapidly shifting social, cultural, and economic backdrops. This session spotlights Anzia Yezierska’s Salome of the Tenements (1923).

Date
Monday, May 15, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
The WWI Navy: Second to None

For the U.S. Navy, World War I was the first significant test of its global prowess. Historian James C. Rentfrow, a faculty member at the U.S. Naval Academy, examines the growing role of the Navy in peace and war during early decades of the 20th century.

Date
Tuesday, May 16, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
The Manhattan Project: Visions of a Nuclear Future

The clandestine Manhattan Project was a futuristic enterprise embedded in a wartime environment—and both the war and the future influenced its evolution. Historian Martin J. Sherwin explores the history and legacy of this world-changing mission.

Date
Wednesday, May 17, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Jerome Kern: Godfather of American Musical Theater

Drawing on personal correspondence, film clips, and recordings of masterworks, American music specialist and pianist Robert Wyatt guides you through highlights in the life of Jerome Kern, the genius who set the cornerstone of American musical theater.

Date
Thursday, May 18, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Schooner Sultana Cruise and Historic St. Michaels
All-Day Tour

Explore the rich heritage of the Eastern Shore during a day that includes a cruise on a replica of an 18th-century vessel, and time in one of the region’s most charming towns.

Date
Saturday, May 20, 2017 - 8:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Jewish Heritage in New York City
All-Day Tour

Spend a fascinating day as you immerse yourself in the lives of immigrant families at the Tenement Museum and get an insightful overview of heritage, culture, and art at the Center for Jewish History, a Smithsonian affiliate organization.

Date
Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 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, May 27, 2017 - 10:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
A Mountain Rail Extravaganza: The Cass Scenic Railroad and Other West Virginia Excursions
3-Day Tour

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.

Date
Depart: Friday, June 2, 2017, 8:00 a.m.
Return: Sunday, June 4, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
Smithsonian Sleepover at the American History Museum

Family Program: (Ages 8 to 12) Go on an interactive exploration of the American History Museum. Then roll out your sleeping bag and dream away in the darkened halls of one of the world’s most famous museums!

Date
Friday, June 2, 2017 - 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.
American Eclipse: Scientific Rivals in the 19th-Century West

A rare total eclipse drew scientists from all over the country to Wyoming and Colorado in the summer of 1878. Three of them became professional competitors: astronomers James Craig Watson and Maria Mitchell, and a young Thomas Edison. Author (and eclipse chaser) David Barton tells their story.

Date
Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Smithsonian Sleepover at the American History Museum

Family Program: (Ages 8 to 12) Go on an interactive exploration of the American History Museum. Then roll out your sleeping bag and dream away in the darkened halls of one of the world’s most famous museums!

Date
Saturday, June 17, 2017 - 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.
Presidential Virginia
Overnight Tour

The Old Dominion was the birthplace of several presidents, the site of a number of their residences, and contains a host of family links to the White House. Join historians Gregg Clemmer and Ed Bearss on a tour that covers both public and private locations that trace this fascinating aspect of the state’s legacy.

Date
Depart: Saturday, June 24, 2017, 7:30 a.m.
Return: Sunday, June 25, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
Smithsonian Sleepover at the American History Museum

Family Program: (Ages 8 to 12) Go on an interactive exploration of the American History Museum. Then roll out your sleeping bag and dream away in the darkened halls of one of the world’s most famous museums!

Date
Friday, July 7, 2017 - 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.
Smithsonian Sleepover at the American History Museum

Family Program: (Ages 8 to 12) Go on an interactive exploration of the American History Museum. Then roll out your sleeping bag and dream away in the darkened halls of one of the world’s most famous museums!

Date
Friday, August 25, 2017 - 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.