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2008 Conference

Washington Historical Studies Conference

35th Annual Washington Historical Studies Conference

Date: November 13 - 15, 2008
Location: Historical Society of Washington, D.C.801 K Street, NW

Washington Historical Studies Conference: November 13-15, 2008

The 35th Annual Conference on Washington, D.C. Historical Studies is a gathering of everyone – from scholars and students to collectors and history buffs – who shares an abiding fascination in the local history of Washington, D.C.

Thursday, November 13
Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Lecture - Dr. Peniel Joseph, "Stokely Carmichael and American Democracy in the 1960s"


The Associate Professor of African and Afro-American Studies at Brandeis University, recently published Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour, reassessing the Black Power movement of the 1960s and demonstrating Stokely Carmichael’s role as the historic bridge between the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Black Panthers. His talk uses Carmichael’s activism as a prism to view the struggles for social, political, and racial justice during the 1960s and beyond.

Friday, November 14, and Saturday November 15

Session 1: From Riots to Buy-Outs: The Washington Post, Past and Future
In a discussion with audience participation, current Washington Post staff look at high points in the agenda-setting newspaper’s recent history, including coverage of the 1968 riots and Watergate. They will also consider the newspaper’s future in the era of staff reductions and the ongoing revolution in communications technology.

Session 2:
Film: Perspectives on Urban Violence: An Oral History of the Washington, DC Riots of 1968
Produced by 2005 AP History Class, Connelly School of the Holy Child

Session 3: Film: Portraits of a City: The Legacy of the Scurlock Studios
The 30-minute documentary brings to light the photography studio founded by Addison Scurlock and continued by his sons for most of the 20th century. From the original Scurlock Studio on U Street, to the Custom Craft Studio and the Capitol School of Photography, the Scurlocks’ imagery reached vast audiences here and around the world.

Session 4: Queering DC: Roots of Activism and Community in LGBT Washington
Washington, DC, became the center of a self-assured gay civil rights activism in the 1960s. Presenters examine the roots of the Mattachine Society of Washington’s philosophy and strategies, summarized in the slogan "Gay is Good," and the development of community expressions for marginalized segments. The final paper examines the chilling effect of the April 1968 civil disturbances on the development of African American queer businesses and social centers.

Session 5: Reading the City
Panelists consider the city in terms of constants, such as the enduring classical styles that mark our public buildings, and change: the adaptive re-use and preservation of venerable buildings.

Session 6:
The Capitol and Its Neighbors
Explore the influence of the Capitol and Congress on the local city and vice versa) through the unique lens of members of Congress, their staff, and the building itself

Session 7:
Faith-Based Support for Human Needs
Panelists explore facets of responses to human needs by faith-based communities: Catholic women religious who aided the poor sheltered at St. Joseph’s Home for the Aged on H Street, NE; Russian Orthodox clergy who helped elite Russian refugees fleeing the Bolshevik Revolution; and to the very recent efforts of faith-based activists that led to a national movement to end homelessness.

Session 8:
Howard University: An Inward Look at 1968
The student take-over at Howard University in 1968 forced changes on Howard's campus and in other universities such as the developing a more inclusive Afro-centric curriculum, better interaction between the university and the local community, and more student involvement in university politics. Panelists offer first-person student and faculty perspectives on the event and its consequences.

Session 9: Mid-century Residential Architecture
The Washington area has been the proving ground for a number of housing innovations. The FHA-supported low-density garden apartment complexes offered good quality, affordable shelter between the wars. Belair at Bowie, the Levitt and Sons high-end development in Prince George’s County, won the hearts of homeowners by offering more house for the money. The Rockville developments of the 1960s provided innovative diversity of housing types in one of the nation’s first Planned Unit Developments.

Session 10:
Vice and Anti-Vice: Urban Reform in Civil War Washington
During the Civil War, Washington’s population exploded with thousands of newcomers: soldiers, formerly enslaved men and women, businessmen, politicians, and bureaucrats. Also in attendance were hundreds of prostitutes and dozens of reformers. The panelists set the context for a city in turmoil and efforts to clean it up with new streets, parks, charitable relief, and the dispersal of ladies of the evening.

Session 11: Panel Discussion: Freemasonry in the Washington, D.C. Area
A look at the impact of Freemasonry on the life and design of the city and surroundings since the organization’s earliest days. Bring your questions about this ancient and intriguing benevolent society.

Session 12: Collections Update
An informal discussion on the new acquisitions and exciting initiatives underway at the area’s key repositories of Washington history. Participants: Yvonne Carignan, Historical Society of Washington, D.C.; Derek Gray, Washingtoniana Division, DC Public Library; Ida Jones, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University; Jennifer King, Special Collections, Gelman Library, George Washington University; Susan McElrath, American University; Mark Meinke, Rainbow History Project

Session 13: Walking Tour: An Environmental History Walk along T Street
Discover how gentrification has affected the environment, including human residents, vegetation and wildlife habitats, along T Street, NW, where more than 60 years have seen middle-class stability, civil unrest, reinvestment, and gentrification.

Session 14: Film: The Night James Brown Saved Boston
Producer Eric Kulberg will discuss this 55-minute film and accompanying slide show on the James Brown concert on April 5, 1968, that reportedly calmed the city of Boston one day after Dr. King’s assassination. The documentary includes important segments on the civil disturbances here in Washington, DC, and in other cities.

Session 15:
Elementary, My Dear Watson!: Collectors as Real History Detectives
Occasionally collectors come across a mysterious document or series of documents that require a closer inspection to uncover clues to their creation or historical value. The panelists will discuss their methods for researching and solving archival mysteries.

Session 16: Walking Tour: Insider Tour of Most Worshipful Prince Hall
Join Worshipful Grand Lodge Archivist/Historian Julius Jefferson on an insider’s tour of this temple of African American Freemasonry.

Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
The Washingtoniana Division of the DC Public Library
Association of Oldest Inhabitants
Friends of Washingtoniana Division
Rainbow History Project

Special Thanks for the Generous Contributions of
Cultural Tourism DC
Special Collections, Gelman Library, George Washington
Karol A. Keane Design & Communications

Program Committee
Brett Abrams, Sandy Bellamy, Karen Blackman-Mills, Yvonne Carignan, Mark Greek, Dottie Green, Jennifer King, Jane Freundel Levey, Richard Longstreth, Mark Meinke, Michael Rigby, Gary Scott, Donna Wells, Leslie White


The Historical Society of Washington, D.C. • 801 K Street, NW at Mount Vernon Square • Washington, DC 20001 • 202-249-3955 •