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Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

202-249-3951||DCHistory.org

The Historical Society of Washington, D.C., tells the diverse stories of our nation’s capital to a broad community of learners, near and far. We serve students and teachers. We welcome and educate newcomers and engage old-timers. We celebrate, preserve, and present everyday life in Washington, D.C. Our valuable collections come to life through educational programs, initiatives, and exhibits designed to gather people to satisfy their curiosity, to learn each other’s stories, and to develop respect for the larger community in which we live.

Today’s Historical Society collects educational material that documents D.C. history, presents public programs, produces exhibits, and publishes historical information across a broad spectrum of media, from print to social. The Historical Society introduces the thrill of discovery to schoolchildren and adults alike. The Historical Society has provided images and research to WETA, the Smithsonian, Amblin Entertainment, local restaurants, independent documentary filmmakers, authors, masons, architects, and construction companies. The Historical Society collaborates with its fellow historical, cultural, and civic institutions to strengthen this diverse and dynamic region.

Community leaders and organizations that understand the role of history in creating a healthy city all support the work of their local history museums and libraries. As in other city museums worldwide, individual donors, foundations, corporations, and governmental organizations from the metropolitan area all support the work of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.


The Historical Society of Washington D.C. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit community-supported educational and research organization that collects, interprets, and shares the history of our nation’s capital. Founded in 1894, it serves a diverse audience through its collections, public programs, exhibitions, and publications.

Upcoming Programs

November 2017

For the Record: Picturing D.C.

November 9, 2017 - March 4, 2018
George Washington University Museum | The Textile Museum, 701 21st St NW
Washington, DC 20052 United States
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This juried exhibit includes 44 original artworks by 25 local artists focused on neighborhoods in each of Washington, D.C.’s eight wards. These two-dimensional artworks, created between 1988 and 2017, offer the artists’ interpretations of the neighborhoods below.  

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Intro to House History

November 28 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm EST
Newseum, 555 Pennsylavania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001 United States
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Free

This workshop is an introduction to resources about the history of houses and other buildings in Washington, D.C. The workshop provides attendees with an opportunity to learn about the information in microfilm resources (including city directories and tax assessment records), digital resources (such as the building permits database and related History Quest platform), and real estate atlases. Access to the reading room is via the Newseum’s Group Entrance on C Street (enter via C Street Group Entrance between 5th & 6th…

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Archiving Digital Photography

November 29 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm EST
George Washington University Museum | The Textile Museum, 701 21st St NW
Washington, DC 20052 United States
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This workshop offers tips on how to organize your digital photography files,  identify best practices for digital storage, and highlight resources that can help digitize your analog photographs, such as the DCPL Memory Lab. Using examples from the extensive analog collections of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. and the DC Public Library's Washingtoniana Division and other digital projects, the workshop will offer strategies for compiling the documentation necessary to make your contemporary photography work a possible resource for your descendants,…

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December 2017

Picturing Kenilworth

December 4 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm EST
George Washington University Museum | The Textile Museum, 701 21st St NW
Washington, DC 20052 United States
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Artist Bruce McNeil discusses the stories behind his art depicting Washington, D.C.’s Kenilworth neighborhood, part of the exhibition "For the Record: Picturing D.C." This program is part of the D.C. Mondays at the Museum series inspired by the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection. Free; no reservations required. Learn More

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Architecture of an Asylum: St. Elizabeths 1852-2017

December 7 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm EST
National Building Museum, 401 F Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20001 United States
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This is a special docent-led tour of the National Building Museum’s Architecture of an Asylum: St. Elizabeths 1852-2017.  Explore the complex history of the federal government’s pioneering mental health hospital. Learn about theories on how architecture was thought to affect treatment for mental illness. See the plans for the site’s use in the future. This exhibition features site models, patient artworks, treatment equipment, and other objects that illuminate the history and life of those who worked and lived on the campus.

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January 2018

Digital DC History 24/7

January 16, 2018 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm EST
Newseum, 555 Pennsylavania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001 United States
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Free

This workshop is an introduction to online resources for D.C. history, from government databases to blogs and interactive maps. Learn the ins and outs of some of these detailed websites so that you can access D.C. history resources 24/7. Participants will receive an annotated list of over 50 free websites on D.C. History. Participants are encouraged to bring laptops in order to fully explore the resources at their own pace; there are limited desktop and laptop computers available in the…

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February 2018

Intro to House History

February 13, 2018 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm EST
Newseum, 555 Pennsylavania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001 United States
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Free

This workshop is an introduction to resources about the history of houses and other buildings in Washington, D.C. The workshop provides attendees with an opportunity to learn about the information in microfilm resources (including city directories and tax assessment records), digital resources (such as the building permits database and related History Quest platform), and real estate atlases. Access to the reading room is via the Newseum’s Group Entrance on C Street (enter via C Street Group Entrance between 5th & 6th…

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March 2018

Design Inspiration from the Archives

March 13, 2018 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm EDT
Newseum, 555 Pennsylavania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001 United States
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Free

This workshop is designed to spark creative re-use of historical material. The collections are a goldmine for design inspiration. In this workshop, attendees will gain inspiration from collections ranging from Victorian dance cards to mid-century modern government docs, punk rock posters to 1940s restaurant menus, gold-inlaid bindings to mod fashions. Let the typography and ornament inspire your next creative project! Access to the reading room is via the Newseum’s Group Entrance on C Street (enter via C Street Group Entrance between 5th & 6th…

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The Pilot District Project, 1968-1971

March 31, 2018 - October 1, 2018
National Building Museum, 401 F Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20001 United States
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In 1968, the eyes of a troubled nation were focused on Washington, D.C. After the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the ensuing widespread neighborhood destruction that followed in the district and nationwide, what would come next? Would D.C.’s political and community leaders rise to the occasion? A new exhibition organized in partnership with the National Building Museum as part of a city-wide commemoration of the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination and other historical events in 1968, the…

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April 2018

Intro to House History

April 17, 2018 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm EDT
Newseum, 555 Pennsylavania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001 United States
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Free

This workshop is an introduction to resources available for discovering the history of houses and other buildings here in D.C. This is an opportunity to learn about information found in microfilm resources (including city directories and tax assessment records), digital resources (such as the building permits database and related History Quest platform), and real estate atlases. Access to the reading room is via the Newseum’s Group Entrance on C Street (enter via C Street Group Entrance between 5th & 6th…

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May 2018

D.C. 1968

May 15, 2018 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm EDT
Newseum, 555 Pennsylavania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001 United States
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Free

This workshop is an introduction to resources for researching and learning about D.C. in 1968. 2018 marks 50 years since Washington, D.C., and many other urban areas around the nation exploded in civil disturbances in the wake of the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But as Dr. Marya McQuirter noted in her lecture at the 2017 D.C. History Conference, D.C. in 1968 was about much more than the civil disturbances. The workshop serves as an introduction to…

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