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American History Programs
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.
Mallows Bay by Kayak: Ghost Ships and Bald Eagles

Mallows Bay on the lower Potomac is the site of a “ghost fleet” of nearly 200 wrecked vessels dating from the Revolutionary War through World War I. There’s no better vantage point than a two-person kayak from which to experience this dramatic collection, as well as to explore the bay’s marshy tributaries filled with abundant wildlife.

Date
Saturday, June 3, 2017 - 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Mallows Bay by Kayak: Ghost Ships and Bald Eagles

Mallows Bay on the lower Potomac is the site of a “ghost fleet” of nearly 200 wrecked vessels dating from the Revolutionary War through World War I. There’s no better vantage point than a two-person kayak from which to experience this dramatic collection, as well as to explore the bay’s marshy tributaries filled with abundant wildlife.

Date
Saturday, June 3, 2017 - 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.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.
The Women’s Vote: The 19th Amendment and Its Aftermath

Although the ratification of the 19th Amendment on Aug. 26, 1920, didn’t actually change the status of many American women, it did set in motion events that would have a huge impact on the national agenda. Learn about the amendment’s tumultuous history and how American women of the 1920s “changed the meaning of womanhood.”

Date
Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Mallows Bay by Kayak: Ghost Ships and Bald Eagles

Mallows Bay on the lower Potomac is the site of a “ghost fleet” of nearly 200 wrecked vessels dating from the Revolutionary War through World War I. There’s no better vantage point than a two-person kayak from which to experience this dramatic collection, as well as to explore the bay’s marshy tributaries filled with abundant wildlife.

Date
Saturday, June 10, 2017 - 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Mallows Bay by Kayak: Ghost Ships and Bald Eagles

Mallows Bay on the lower Potomac is the site of a “ghost fleet” of nearly 200 wrecked vessels dating from the Revolutionary War through World War I. There’s no better vantage point than a two-person kayak from which to experience this dramatic collection, as well as to explore the bay’s marshy tributaries filled with abundant wildlife.

Date
Saturday, June 10, 2017 - 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Historic Boundary Markers of the Federal District
Weekend Tour

Historian Kathryn Holt Springston leads a program and tour focused on the laying out the District’s boundaries, marked by 40 stones placed at one-mile intervals along the border. The story of the stones and the people who surveyed and placed them offers insights into a period in which the idea of an American federal city became a reality.

Date
Saturday, June 17, 2017 - 12:30 p.m. to 6:30 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
Saturday, June 17, 2017 - 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.
Archaeology in Maryland: Excavating History
All-Day Tour

St. Mary’s City and St. Leonard on Maryland’s Western Shore are locations that offer rich archaeological insights into the state’s—and America’s—past. Spend a day led by science and history communicator Steve Lonker exploring that history though excavations from early Native American sites, colonial settlements, 19th-century battle sites, and more recent finds.

Date
Friday, June 23, 2017 - 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.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.
Mallows Bay by Kayak: Ghost Ships and Bald Eagles

Mallows Bay on the lower Potomac is the site of a “ghost fleet” of nearly 200 wrecked vessels dating from the Revolutionary War through World War I. There’s no better vantage point than a two-person kayak from which to experience this dramatic collection, as well as to explore the bay’s marshy tributaries filled with abundant wildlife.

Date
Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Mallows Bay by Kayak: Ghost Ships and Bald Eagles

Mallows Bay on the lower Potomac is the site of a “ghost fleet” of nearly 200 wrecked vessels dating from the Revolutionary War through World War I. There’s no better vantage point than a two-person kayak from which to experience this dramatic collection, as well as to explore the bay’s marshy tributaries filled with abundant wildlife.

Date
Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Doctor’s Orders: The Growth of the Public Health Movement

The 1920s stimulated many new discoveries and initiatives in medicine, as well as a growing public confidence that the field could conquer and control modern problems. Alexandra Lord of the American History Museum explores the medical and public health advances of the decade and places them in a cultural context.

Date
Monday, June 26, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
John F. Kennedy: 1,000 Days in Office
The Making of an Iconic Presidency

Ken Walsh, chief White House correspondent for U.S. News & World Report, considers JFK’s 1,000 days in office, his legacy, and whether any president could ever again attain his mystique.

Date
Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
All the Presidents' Gardens

From plant-obsessed George Washington to Michelle Obama's kitchen garden, the White House grounds have mirrored American garden history and changing fashions in horticulture and design. Author Marta McDowell offers a survey of their transformations and traditions, featuring the presidents, first ladies, and their gardeners.    

Date
Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Jazzy Nights in Shaw: A Stroll Through 1920s Washington
Evening Tour

Spend a summer evening with local historian Garrett Peck and step into the heyday of Washington’s “Black Broadway,” when jazz filled the clubs and theaters of U Street and the nightlife scene rivaled Harlem’s.

Date
Thursday, July 6, 2017 - 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 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.
Jeb Stuart's Ride to Gettysburg
All-Day Tour

Historians Ed Bearss and Gregg Clemmer follow the route of Jeb Stuart’s Confederate troops from Rowser’s Ford to Hanover during the Gettysburg campaign of the summer of 1863.

Date
Saturday, July 8, 2017 - 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Mallows Bay by Kayak: Ghost Ships and Bald Eagles

Mallows Bay on the lower Potomac is the site of a “ghost fleet” of nearly 200 wrecked vessels dating from the Revolutionary War through World War I. There’s no better vantage point than a two-person kayak from which to experience this dramatic collection, as well as to explore the bay’s marshy tributaries filled with abundant wildlife.

Date
Saturday, July 8, 2017 - 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Mallows Bay by Kayak: Ghost Ships and Bald Eagles

Mallows Bay on the lower Potomac is the site of a “ghost fleet” of nearly 200 wrecked vessels dating from the Revolutionary War through World War I. There’s no better vantage point than a two-person kayak from which to experience this dramatic collection, as well as to explore the bay’s marshy tributaries filled with abundant wildlife.

Date
Saturday, July 8, 2017 - 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Rise of Women in Science: 250 Years of Trailblazers

Marie Curie may have been the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, but women have made their mark in the sciences long before and after that 1903 accolade. Historian Marsha Richmond tells the stories of influential women celebrated as scientific innovators, as well as those whose opportunities and work were denied or repressed. (An optional tour of the Smithsonian Libraries’ Biodiversity Heritage Library is available to program participants.)

Date
Monday, July 10, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Cleared for Takeoff: An Insider’s Day at Dulles
All-Day Tour

Here’s a trip to the airport for which you don’t need to pack a single bag. Transportation expert and pilot Scott Hercik leads a close-up exploration of what daily life is like at Washington Dulles International. Once you’ve gotten some aviation and architectural history, seen the view from a ramp control tower, and gone inside the cockpit of a British Airways Airbus 380-800, you’ll never see this familiar place in the same way.

Date
Wednesday, July 12, 2017 - 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Jazzy Nights in Shaw: A Stroll Through 1920s Washington
Evening Tour

Spend a summer evening with local historian Garrett Peck and step into the heyday of Washington’s “Black Broadway,” when jazz filled the clubs and theaters of U Street and the nightlife scene rivaled Harlem’s.

Date
Wednesday, July 12, 2017 - 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
The Hello Girls: America’s First Female Soldiers in War Abroad—and at Home

Historian Elizabeth Cobbs tells the story of how a corps of 200 bilingual telephone operators braved the battlefields and helped win World War I—and later took on a 60-year battle of their own with the U.S. Army.

Date
Wednesday, July 12, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Jazzy Nights in Shaw: A Stroll Through 1920s Washington
Evening Tour

Spend a summer evening with local historian Garrett Peck and step into the heyday of Washington’s “Black Broadway,” when jazz filled the clubs and theaters of U Street and the nightlife scene rivaled Harlem’s.

Date
Thursday, July 20, 2017 - 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Kennedy and King

Drawing on his new book, journalist and author Steven Levingston traces the emergence of two of the 20th century's greatest leaders and their powerful impact on each other and the shape of the Civil Rights movement during its tumultuous early years.

Date
Thursday, July 20, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Interpreting the Great War: Exhibitions Explore a World-Changing Conflict
All-Day Tour

In observance of the centennial of America’s formal entry into the conflict in 1917, many Washington-area museums are presenting exhibitions on a variety of aspects of the war. Robert A. Enholm, a global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, leads a day-long tour to view several of them at the American History Musuem, Postal Museum, and the President Woodrow Wilson House.

Date
Friday, July 21, 2017 - 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Mallows Bay by Kayak: Ghost Ships and Bald Eagles

Mallows Bay on the lower Potomac is the site of a “ghost fleet” of nearly 200 wrecked vessels dating from the Revolutionary War through World War I. There’s no better vantage point than a two-person kayak from which to experience this dramatic collection, as well as to explore the bay’s marshy tributaries filled with abundant wildlife.

Date
Saturday, July 22, 2017 - 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Mallows Bay by Kayak: Ghost Ships and Bald Eagles

Mallows Bay on the lower Potomac is the site of a “ghost fleet” of nearly 200 wrecked vessels dating from the Revolutionary War through World War I. There’s no better vantage point than a two-person kayak from which to experience this dramatic collection, as well as to explore the bay’s marshy tributaries filled with abundant wildlife.

Date
Saturday, July 22, 2017 - 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Gettysburg 101
All-Day Tour

Join historian Gregg Clemmer as he explores and interprets the most iconic battle of the Civil War in a full-day excursion.

Date
Sunday, July 23, 2017 - 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Dining in Early Federal Washington: Making Meals—and History

Washington has always been a place where much happens at dinner parties, particularly in the era in which both the city and the Republic were coming into their own. Food historian Leni Sorensen brings together stories of a hostess, a cookbook writer, and an emancipated black caterer to examine how culinary and social history was made over the city’s most fashionable dining tables.

Date
Wednesday, July 26, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Where Harry Met Sally: The Cuisine and Culture of the New York Jewish Deli

Has there ever been a tastier or more beloved institution than the New York Jewish deli? Ted Merwin, associate professor of religion and Judaic studies at Dickinson College, discusses the past, present, and future of the deli and its quintessential role in urban Jewish and American life. And of course, there’s a lunch!

Date
Sunday, July 30, 2017 - 12:00 p.m.
Bootleggers, Bathtubs, and Speakeasies: Tales From Prohibition

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

Date
Tuesday, August 1, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
D-Day: Success Against the Odds

Christopher Hamner, an associate professor in the department of history and art history at George Mason University, explores the experiences of the rank-and-file GIs on D-Day as they endured the chaos and terror of what was, for many, their first experience under fire.

Date
Wednesday, August 2, 2017 - 6:45 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
Friday, August 25, 2017 - 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.