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American History Programs
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.
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
Tuesday, July 25, 2017 - 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 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.
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 29, 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 29, 2017 - 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 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.
The Cooking Gene: Southern Food’s Deepest Roots

Traditional Southern food is an integral part of our national culinary heritage, yet the question of who "owns" it is linked to wider issues of race, politics, and history. Culinary historian and cook Michael Twitty, a descendant of both African and European ancestors, discusses how he traced the roots of soul food, barbecue, and other staples of Southern cooking—as well as those of his own family.

Date
Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Stengel and Durocher: Home Runs and Spitballs

Midcentury baseball was dominated by a pair of brilliant managers whose contrasting styles and personalities made them natural adversaries. Biographers Paul Dickson and Marty Appel join veteran sportscaster Phil Hochberg for a colorful conversation about the good guy/bad guy dynamics between Casey Stengel and Leo Durocher.

Date
Monday, August 14, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Great Migration

From World War I up through the Civil Rights era, more than 6 million African Americans left the Jim Crow agrarian south for the industrial urban North in a movement known as the Great Migration. Spencer Crew, the former director of the American History Museum and a professor of history at George Mason University, takes an in-depth look at this pivotal movement in America’s history.

Date
Wednesday, August 16, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Patrick Henry: The Forgotten Founding Father

Though he was enormously influential in his time, Patrick Henry’s accomplishments—other than his one great line “Give me liberty or give me death”—were subsequently all but forgotten. Historian Jon Kukla, author of a new biography of Henry, discusses why he finds that obscurity is less then deserved, and why his contributions to the nation’s early years merit more attention.

Date
Tuesday, August 22, 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.
The Jazz Age: Rhythms of History

The term Jazz Age conjures colorful images of a flamboyant anything-goes culture that characterized the 1920s. Little wonder that jazz music, with its improvisation syncopation, and strong rhythm was the era’s soundtrack.  Learn about the origins, nature, and legacy of the 1920s—underscored by period jazz recordings, of course.

Date
Saturday, September 9, 2017 - 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Historic Chestertown and a Cruise on the Schooner Sultana
All-Day Tour

Regional historian Hayden Mathews explores the rich heritage of this lovely Eastern Shore town, focusing on both land and sea. The day includes a cruise on a replica of an 18th century vessel, as well as an historic-district walking tour guided by Chestertown’s mayor.

Date
Sunday, September 10, 2017 - 8:00 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.
The Capital of Espionage: Washington’s Spy Sites

The trail of espionage in and around the nation's capital traces back more than 200 years to spymaster George Washington’s study at Mount Vernon. This evening, spy histories spanning the Civil War to today are uncovered in true stories that put even the best spy fiction to shame!

Date
Tuesday, September 12, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
The Golden Age of Steam: Strasburg Rail Excursion and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
All-Day Tour

Climb on board with railroad historian Joseph Nevin for a steam train excursion through the Pennsylvania Dutch countryside and an afternoon at one of America's finest rail museums.

Date
Saturday, September 16, 2017 - 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Alaska at 150: The Big Land and the United States

On March 30, 1867, Russia and the United States signed the Treaty of Cession and this country acquired the Alaska Territory, which became, in 1959, our 49th state. In this entertaining and informative all-day program, learn about the early history of Alaska and the role the Smithsonian played in making it part of the U.S. With Alaskan-style lunch.

Date
Saturday, September 16, 2017 - 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
American Novels of the ’20s
4-Session Evening Course

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, including novels by such groundbreaking writers like Ernest Hemingway and Willa Cather.

Date
Monday, September 18, October 16, November 13, December 18, 2017 – 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
The Supreme Court: A Preview of the New Term

Spend a morning getting a rare behind-the-scenes look at the Supreme Court—including the courtroom where cases are argued. Then, a panel of top legal experts previews the issues that will come before the court when the new session begins in October.

Date
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 - 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The Myth of the Lost Cause: How Civil War History Was Rewritten

The Southern-created Myth of the Lost Cause has shadowed the historical remembrance of the Civil War, the country's watershed event. Historian Ed Bonekemper critically examines the accuracy of that myth and how it has affected perceptions of slavery, states' rights, and the nature of the conflict itself.

Date
Saturday, September 23, 2017 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Historic Chestertown and a Cruise on the Schooner Sultana
All-Day Tour

Regional historian Hayden Mathews explores the rich heritage of this lovely Eastern Shore town, focusing on both land and sea. The day includes a cruise on a replica of an 18th century vessel, as well as an historic-district walking tour guided by Chestertown’s mayor.

Date
Sunday, September 24, 2017 - 8:00 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.
War of 1812: Out of History’s Shadows

The War of 1812’s significance to the course of American history has long been overshadowed by the conflicts that bookend it: the American Revolution and the Civil War. Historian Richard Bell explains why the War of 1812 was, in fact, nothing short of a watershed event in the young republic’s life.

Date
Monday, September 25, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Great Escapes: How Spies, Hostages, and Assets Survive and Get Out Alive
4-Session Daytime Course

Escape-room challenges are popular among fans of spy thrillers, but what if your life actually depended on the result? Be regaled by experts familiar with life-or-death operations conducted in such places as Iran and Moscow in this series exploring memorable escapes, rescues, and evasions from the 1970s through today.

Date
Wednesday, September 27 to October 18, 2017 – 10:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
American Women in Politics: Did Suffrage Matter?

Nearly a century after the 19th Amendment was ratified, it is worth asking whether having the women’s vote has made a significant difference in American politics. Historian Elisabeth Griffith, a biographer of suffrage pioneer Elizabeth Cady Stanton, reviews women’s political engagement from marching for the vote to campaigning for (or against) a woman for president.

Date
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.
Glimpses of Old Arlington
All-Day Tour

From the pre-Revolutionary era to the Civil War to the Great Depression and the postwar boom, Arlington County has always been a canvas for American history. Get a surprising look at the suburbs you think you know when you join historian Kathryn Holt Springston for a tour that uncovers the area’s rich heritage.

Date
Sunday, October 1, 2017 - 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Baseball’s First Golden Age

During the sports-crazed ’20s, baseball established itself as the true national pastime—and a modern game entering a golden age. Join John McMurray, chair of the Deadball Era Committee of the Society for American Baseball Research for an examination of how that came about and an evaluation of this remarkable decade of change in baseball history.

Date
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 6:45 p.m.