Posts in category Collections Snapshot

The Fourth of July in the Nation’s Capital

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    The Fourth of July – the date that the Second Continental Congress approved the final wording of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence announcing the colonies’ official breaking of ties with Great Britain – is well known.[1] How we began to celebrate and commemorate the fourth of July – and all the dates attached to […]

Exploring the William G. Newton Pencil Sketches


“Mercury at 10th & D.” Sketch by Thomas G. Newton, c.1859-1877. The William G. Newton Pencil Sketches collection, comprising 217 pencil sketches and the occasional watercolor, was donated to the Historical Society in 1950 upon the death of the artist, and preliminarily cataloged in 2003. Thanks to the amazing efforts of Spring 2017 interns Michael […]

The Forgotten History of U Street

The Forgotten History of U Street

Vintage photos of Black Broadway, the hub of commercial, intellectual, and cultural life for African Americans in D.C. from the 1920s to the 1950s. By Briana Thomas | Washingtonian Magazine, February 12, 2017 Read Briana Thomas’ article.

What If? Washington: A Castle-less Capital City

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Imagine. What if the Smithsonian Castle had burned all the way to the ground when flames surrounded the building in 1865? One of the most distinctive – and wonderfully odd, really, with its mismatched turrets and cloister-influenced nooks and crannies – and immediately recognizable buildings in all of Washington might have ceased to exist. What if James Smithson’s papers hadn’t […]

Help Needed! Volunteer Opportunities Available


The Historical Society of Washington, D.C. has a busy fall ahead and we need volunteers to help us! Through serving as docents for the permanent exhibit, staffing programs, providing reference services, processing collections, and performing administrative activities, the countless hours contributed by members and other volunteers are critical to the continued success of the Historical Society’s mission. […]

Tip of the CAP: The Great Rehousing Project

The Ephemera Collection has been stored in filing cabinets for years. The CAP report recommended rehousing the entire collection.

The Society applied for and was thrilled to receive a 2014 Conservation Assessment Program (CAP) grant. This is Part IV of a series of posts regarding the CAP assessment. (Here are Part I, Part II, and Part III).  One of the recommendations made in the report was the rehousing of the Ephemera Collection. We’re so […]

Meet Pauline Wayne, President Taft’s Cow

Meet Pauline Wayne, President Taft’s Cow

When it comes to White House animals, Presidential pets are the most well-known. Andrew Jackson had Polly, an infamous swearing parrot, James Buchanan had an elephant at the White House (a gift from the King of Siam), and Teddy Roosevelt and his children had a small menagerie of nearly thirty pets during their time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. […]

Do You Remember These “Long-Gone” Washington Eateries?

Do You Remember These “Long-Gone” Washington Eateries?

More than a dozen images from the Historical Society’s collections are featured in today’s Washington Business Journal. Some of the “long-gone” restaurants include Duke Zeibert’s at Connecticut and L, Gusti’s at 19th and M, and L’Escargot on Connecticut in Cleveland Park. Which places do you remember? Check out the full gallery.

History Mystery: Dating Door Keeper Buckingham

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History Mystery: The circa 2004 catalog record for the portrait of John E. Buckingham dated the image to 1865. When the photograph was pulled in 2015 for research regarding the assassination of President Lincoln, it was noted that the back, or verso, included a long note that threw doubt on the original cataloging.  Our task […]

Collaboration with Ford’s Theatre Launched

What's wrong with this broadside?

Oops. Contrary to the information seen in this broadside, Secretary of State William H. Seward did not die in the April 15, 1865 attack that killed President Abraham Lincoln. In fact, after surviving the brutal stabbing attempt on his life, Seward would go on to serve several more years as Secretary of State; he was […]

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Making D.C. History Awards 2017

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