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American History Programs

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.

Go behind the walls of the Rotunda into the “stacks and vaults” of the National Archives Museum. Encounter fascinating original records, including Abraham Lincoln’s telegrams to his generals and audio recordings from the Oval Office. See the original signed documents known as The Charters of Freedom: The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Event date
Thursday, June 27, 2019 - 9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.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.

Drawing on her memoir, Trailblazer, Gilliam talks to veteran reporter and freelance journalist Kristin Jensen about her remarkable 50-year career as The Washington Post’s first black female journalist and her determination to “make the media look more like America.”

Event date
Tuesday, July 9, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

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.

Event date
Thursday, July 11, 2019 - 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

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

Event date
Saturday, July 13, 2019 - 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 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, July 14, 2019 - 6:45 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

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.

Event date
Wednesday, July 17, 2019 - 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The photographs of David Levinthal are populated with iconic American ideals: Cowboys and cavalry, Barbie dolls and baseball players. Despite their playful veneer, Levinthal’s images provide a lens through which we can examine the myths and stereotypes lurking within our most beloved pastimes and enduring heroes. This exhibition encourages us, most of all, to consider what it means to be American.

Event date
Thursday, July 18, 2019 - 12:00 p.m.

The first large-scale clash of the Civil War near Manassas, Virginia, on July 21, 1861, left a thousand soldiers dead and many more wounded. It was a rude awakening for people who were anticipating a short and bloodless war.

Event date
Tuesday, July 23, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

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.

Event date
Thursday, July 25, 2019 - 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

In 1969 the events rocking American culture and society found a corresponding reflection in pop music. From Woodstock to “American Pie”, explore the music of that era and why it endures in this 3-session course. This session focuses on Woodstock.

Event date
Monday, July 29, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Find out what inspired the so-called Beat Generation of the 1950s–a fascinating, maddening, provocative and, in the end, utterly American group of writers.

Event date
Wednesday, July 31, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The imminent arrival of the driverless car has forced us to reevaluate the place of the automobile in our lives. Historian and car critic Dan Albert traces the history of the automobile as the history of America.

Event date
Monday, August 12, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

The vibes of peace, love, and nature that shaped the counterculture of the 1960s have a connection that might have surprised some of its laid-back proponents: the landscape of 19th-century New England transcendentalism. Bill Dinges, a professor of religion and culture at Catholic University, explores this notable American intellectual movement and how it inspired the activism, literature, and religion of that turbulent decade and beyond.

Event date
Tuesday, August 13, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Take a rare opportunity to hear first-person stories from men and women whose careers are spent in diplomatic Washington when you spend a day at the American Foreign Service Association and the U.S. Department of State.

Event date
Thursday, August 15, 2019 - 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

In 1969 the events rocking American culture and society found a corresponding reflection in pop music. From Woodstock to “American Pie”, explore the music of that era and why it endures in this 3-session course. This session focuses on music from 1959 to 1979.

Event date
Monday, August 26, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

There’s far more to Thomas Edison’s story than the light bulb and the phonograph. Paul Israel, director and general editor of the Edison Papers at Rutgers University, offers a portrait of an American genius who transformed the concept of invention and played a key role in developing some of the most important technologies of the modern era.

Event date
Friday, September 6, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Spend a day with Joe Nevin in the Shenandoah and South Branch valleys that focuses on regional and railroad history, and offers some spectacular scenery as well. The centerpiece is a 3-hour excursion on the diesel-powered Potomac Eagle in historic first-class lounge cars—the perfect vantage point to take in the wild, wooded gorge locally known as the Trough.

Event date
Saturday, September 7, 2019 - 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

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.

Event date
Thursday, September 12, 2019 - 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Experience the bloody conflict at Gettysburg though a highly personal lens: the story of 19-year-old Bayard Wilkeson, a missing Union artillery officer, and his father Sam, a reporter for the New York Times who spent three days on the battlefield in search of his son.

Event date
Saturday, September 14, 2019 - 8:45 a.m. to 6:00 p.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.

Photographer Bruce White has spent much time in and around the White House, shooting it for books published by the White House Historical Association. As the author of At Home in the President’s Neighborhood, he’s the perfect guide for a walking tour of the area most closely connected with the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Lafayette Park.

Event date
Friday, September 20, 2019 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

D.C. bartender and spirits expert Derek Brown raises a toast to the fascinating history of the cocktail—and its place in America’s history as well. He traces the potable's birth, rise, fall, and eventual resurrection, spotlighting some of the men and women who made their mark on cocktail culture.

Event date
Friday, September 20, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Photographer Bruce White has spent much time in and around the White House, shooting it for books published by the White House Historical Association. As the author of At Home in the President’s Neighborhood, he’s the perfect guide for a walking tour of the area most closely connected with the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Lafayette Park.

Event date
Saturday, September 21, 2019 - 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Photographer Bruce White has spent much time in and around the White House, shooting it for books published by the White House Historical Association. As the author of At Home in the President’s Neighborhood, he’s the perfect guide for a walking tour of the area most closely connected with the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Lafayette Park.

Event date
Saturday, September 21, 2019 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Savor the beautiful lower Hudson Valley—a treasure trove of historic houses and home to the school that produces top chefs—in a 3-day excursion led by Bill Keene, a lecturer in history, urban studies, and architecture. The tour includes visits to the Kykuit Rockefeller estate, the Culinary Institute of Ameirca (for a French lunch), the Springwood family estate where Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born, magnificent Vanderbilt Mansion, and more.

Event date
Depart: Sunday, September 22, 2019 - 7:00 a.m.
Return: Tuesday, September 24, 2019 - 10:00 p.m.

Karen S. Franklin, a consultant for the Museum of Jewish Heritage, guides you through the process of successfully exploring your family’s past or Holocaust-era history using a wealth of genealogical resources—many of them online.

Event date
Sunday, September 22, 2019 - 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Woodrow Wilson’s post-WWI idea of collective security became realized in the founding of the League of Nations in 1920—and collapsed 26 years later. Historian and author Garrett Peck examines how the league came to be, its successes and failures, and its resurrection through the United Nations after World War II.

Event date
Monday, September 23, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

In 1969 the events rocking American culture and society found a corresponding reflection in pop music. From Woodstock to “American Pie”, explore the music of that era and why it endures in this 3-session course. This session focuses on the music of protest.

Event date
Monday, September 23, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

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.

Event date
Friday, September 27, 2019 - 7:45 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.

Ken Walsh, White House correspondent and political analyst for U.S. News & World Report, offers a lively fact-based and nonpartisan examination of the consequential presidency of Donald Trump and how the Democrats are preparing to challenge him.

Event date
Thursday, October 3, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Historian Richard Bell examines four extraordinary events that turned 13 loyal British colonies into a united confederation willing to go to war to achieve independence.

Event date
Saturday, October 5, 2019 - 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Raise a toast to the indomitable American women who fought for the right to vote. The informal social evening includes a private view of a Portrait Gallery exhibition that chronicles the history of the suffragist movement, as well as the opportunity to meet its curator.

Event date
Tuesday, October 8, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

In recent years, the longtime popularity of bourbon and rye had been on the decline, but these venerable all-American drinks have made a spirited comeback. Learn how—and about the traditions and tastes behind them—from Andrea Wilson, executive vice president of Michter's Distillery in Louisville, and Lew Bryson, author of Tasting Whiskey. Cheers!

Event date
Thursday, October 17, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

Explore the man-made wonders of the C&O Canal, as well as natural beauty of spring along the Potomac River, guided by writer and local historian Garrett Peck. Highlights include the Monocacy Aqueduct, the canal town of Williamsport, the Paw Paw Tunnel, and an overnight stay in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, site of America’s first spa.

Event date
Depart: Sunday, October 20, 2019 - 8:30 a.m.
Return: Monday, October 21, 2019 - 6:30 p.m.