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American History Programs

One significant aspect of Harriet Tubman’s life is less well-known than her role in the abolitionist movement: her Civil War military service as a spy for the Union Army in South Carolina. Historian Elizabeth Cobbs examines her activities behind enemy lines—including guiding an armed mission that liberated more than 700 slaves.

Event date
Monday, April 22, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The long fight against American slavery produced some of the most powerful autobiographies and works of fiction in American history. Read and discuss four 19th-century classics by men and women, both black and white, who were central figures in the struggle to destroy the institution. This session features Solomon Northup's Twelve Years a Slave.

Event date
Thursday, April 25, 2019 – 6:45 p.m.

No other location is as associated with George Washington as Alexandria, a place he considered his hometown. Join author and historian Garrett Peck as he follows Washington’s footsteps through Old Town’s alleyways, rustic taverns, churches, 18th-century houses, and historic waterfront.

Event date
Friday, April 26, 2019 - 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Historian Stephen D. Engle argues reconstruction commenced not in April 1865 with peace, but in April 1861 with the onset of the Civil War. Learn how the Civil War changed a people and a nation as he surveys the wider scope of its social and political changes.

Event date
Saturday, April 27, 2019 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Thomas Jefferson was among the most notable aficionados of Madeira, the fortified Portuguese wine that at one time was the most popular potable throughout the British Empire. At his namesake hotel in downtown Washington, learn about the Founding Father’s connection to the drink, and enjoy a guided tasting of fine Madeiras.

Event date
Saturday, April 27, 2019 - 1:00 p.m.

No other location is as associated with George Washington as Alexandria, a place he considered his hometown. Join author and historian Garrett Peck as he follows Washington’s footsteps through Old Town’s alleyways, rustic taverns, churches, 18th-century houses, and historic waterfront.

Event date
Saturday, April 27, 2019 - 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Developed in the mid-19th century as one of the District’s first suburbs, Anacostia and its residents played a key role in shaping the city we know today. Join a historian for a walking tour that traces its heritage and significance, with a focus on the noted resident that came to be known as the “Lion of Anacostia,” Fredrick Douglass.

Event date
Sunday, April 28, 2019 - 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

No other location is as associated with George Washington as Alexandria, a place he considered his hometown. Join author and historian Garrett Peck as he follows Washington’s footsteps through Old Town’s alleyways, rustic taverns, churches, 18th-century houses, and historic waterfront.

Event date
Sunday, April 28, 2019 - 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The sprawling Central Intelligence Agency has thousands of eyes and ears, but only one client: the president of the United States. The CIA’s chief historian David Robarge discusses the agency’s changing role throughout administrations, and how presidents’ experience with intelligence and their foreign policy agendas have affected that relationship.

Event date
Tuesday, April 30, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Abraham Lincoln spent 18 of his last 21 days of life not in Washington but in eastern Virginia, headquarters for Ulysses S. Grant’s campaign against Robert E. Lee. Trace his steps through sites in the region which offer new insights into a war-weary president—and nation—at a pivotal moment in history.

Event date
Saturday, May 4, 2019 - 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

His early political career was notable for his embrace of plans to build a better world. But then things changed. Biographer John Farrell examines Richard Nixon’s personal and political journey from naval lieutenant to disgraced president.

Event date
Wednesday, May 8, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Vessels that fought in WWII and the Spanish­-American conflict, one of the most beautiful ocean liners ever built, and lunch on a four-masted windjammer are among the attractions of a fascinating day focused on Philadelphia’s history as one of America’s great ports.

Event date
Wednesday, May 15, 2019 - 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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

Event date
Saturday, May 18, 2019 - 8:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Drawing on her new book, The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created, Jane Leavy discusses the Bambino’s journey from Baltimore to the big leagues to the center of the nation’s adulation. In conversation with local sports attorney Phil Hochberg, she goes behind the mythology to uncover the man whose approach to the game and to life was always to hit it with all you’ve got.

Event date
Monday, May 20, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Family Program: (Ages 8 to 14) 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!

Event date
May 24 - 25, 2019, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.

Finding the reason behind the disappearance of more than 100 inhabitants of the Roanoke colony has obsessed generations of historians, archaeologists, and amateur sleuths for more than 400 years. Journalist Andrew Lawler draws on his book The Secret Token to dive into the still-unanswered questions about the fate of the colonists, and examine why fascination with Roanoke’s story only continues to grow.

Event date
Tuesday, June 4, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

All aboard for an exciting three-day rail journey through West Virginia’s breathtaking mountain scenery led by railroad historian Joe Nevin.

Event date
Depart: Friday, June 7, 2019 - 8:00 a.m.
Return: Sunday, June 9, 2019 - 7:30 p.m.

A single shot in Ford’s Theater on an April night 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 Gregg Clemmer and special guest Ed Bearss trace his path from the District to Maryland to the Virginia barn where he met his death.

Event date
Saturday, June 8, 2019 - 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Tangier Island is a community inextricably connected to the Chesapeake Bay. Join naturalist Keith Tomlinson as he leads a day devoted to discovering the island’s unique charms and attractions—on both land and water.

Event date
Sunday, June 9, 2019 - 6:45 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

As the famed training school’s 50th anniversary approaches, founder Dan Pedersen offers a first-hand account of the program, tells the inside story of its development during the Vietnam War, and examines how its training provided American flyers with the know-how to dominate air combat from Miramar to Area 51.

Event date
Monday, June 10, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Family Program: (Ages 8 to 14) 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!

Event date
June 15 - 16, 2019, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.

Historian John Ragosta examines whether Thomas Jefferson’s insistence on separation of church on state was essential to the early development of American religious freedom or if the concept, as critics claim, is a mid-20th century phenomenon.

Event date
Monday, June 17, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The latest developments in imagining technology are uncovering centuries-old secrets hidden in fire- and water-damaged manuscripts, drawings, old books, and ephemera. Michael B. Toth, a specialist in the field, discusses recent projects, including ones that that provided insights into Shakespeare’s first folios and revelations about Ben Franklin found beneath an ink spill.

Event date
Tuesday, June 18, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II forged much more than a songwriting partnership; they created one of the most profitable and powerful entertainment businesses of their era. Todd Purdum, culture and politics writer for The Atlantic, examines how the innovative musicals of these cultural powerhouses came to define postwar America on stage, screen, television, and radio.

Event date
Saturday, June 22, 2019 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Tangier Island is a community inextricably connected to the Chesapeake Bay. Join naturalist Keith Tomlinson as he leads a day devoted to discovering the island’s unique charms and attractions—on both land and water.

Event date
Sunday, June 23, 2019 - 6:45 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Historian Richard Bell reconstructs the fascinating history of America’s Declaration of Independence, covering its origins, purpose, impact, and its extraordinary influence on more than 100 similar declarations in countries around the world.

Event date
Wednesday, June 26, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Family Program: (Ages 8 to 14) 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!

Event date
July 5 - 6, 2019, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.

The rugged landscape of western North Dakota was the setting against which Theodore Roosevelt transformed himself from an asthmatic 24-year-old into a robust outdoorsman—and a passionate lifelong conservationist. Experience that corner of the West—filled with dramatic vistas, vividly colored canyons, and wandering herds of wild bison—on an extraordinary tour that brings you into the heart of Roosevelt’s Badlands and the national park that bears his name.

Event date
Depart from Bismarck, ND: Sunday, September 15, 2019 - 6:00 p.m.
Return to Bismarck, ND: Thursday, September 19, 2019 - 1:00 p.m.