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American History Programs

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 through 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.

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.

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.

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.

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
Sunday, September 29, 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.

Spend the Columbus Day holiday with maritime historian, author, and archaeologist Donald Grady Shomette investigating Baltimore's prominent role in the seafaring history of America and the ships, shipbuilders, mariners, explorations, and conflicts that helped build a nation.

Event date
Monday, October 14, 2019 - 8:15 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Though now half a century in the past, the turbulent 1960s continues to reverberate in our society, culture, and institutions. Leonard Steinhorn of American University explores the decade’s meaning and its legacy—which may well be the widening dividing line in our contemporary politics.

Event date
Tuesday, October 15, 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.

How do professional historians work? In a unique workshop, Christopher Hamner, an associate professor of American history at George Mason University, demystifies this process by guiding you in how to think about and interpret the past.

Event date
Saturday, October 19, 2019 - 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 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.

In the early 19th century, fortunes were made and lost importing luxury goods from China to the American marketplace, a trade hampered by the time it took for the ocean journey. Historian Steven Ujifusa tells the colorful story of a handful of cutthroat competitors who raced to create the fastest clipper ships to carry their cargo to American shores—and transformed the design and technology of shipbuilding in the process.

Event date
Wednesday, October 23, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.

From Prohibition through the 1950s, the Stork Club, 21 Club, El Morocco, and other swank nightspots and eateries were the center of a glittering new kind of social scene. Cocktail historian Philip Greene takes a spirited look at the glamour of these legendary venues through the great drinks developed and savored there.

Event date
Monday, November 4, 2019 - 6:30 p.m.

In the decades before the Civil War a clandestine network of human traffickers and slave traders stole away thousands of free African Americans from the northern states in order to sell them into slavery in the Deep South. In an absorbing evening, historian Richard Bell examines the prevalence of this heinous practice, the routes the kidnappers took, and the techniques they used to lure free black people.

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

Treat yourself to a holiday-season overnight getaway that offers the perfect way to experience the heart of Old Town Alexandria’s heritage and charm: colonial architecture, museums, fine dining, the waterfront, and of course, a little shopping.

Event date
Starts: Sunday, December 15, 2019 - 11:00 a.m.
Ends: Monday, December 16, 2019 - 4:00 p.m.