2009 Conference Program
Thursday, November 12
Theatre, Historical Society of Washington, DC, 801 K Street, NW
7:30pm Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Lecture - Kathryn S. Smith, "Whose Story Is It? Crossing the Lines to Understand DC History"
Kathy Smith reflects on three-plus decades as a community-based public historian in Washington. Smith studied with Letitia Woods Brown, modernized the Historical Society and created Washington History magazine, founded Cultural Tourism DC, and edited two editions of the now-classic Washington at Home (second edition set for 2010). Join Smith to discuss her experiences helping scholars, lay historians, community organizers, teachers, artists, officials, and marketers integrate history into Washington’s civic life.
Friday, November 13
Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives, 1201 17th Street, NW
8:30am Registration Opens
9:30-11:15am Plenary Session
Session 1: Ford’s Theatre: A Living Memorial
Moderator: Frank Milligan, President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home in Washington, D.C.
Panelists: Mark Ramont, Director of Theatre Programming, Michelle Keegan, Director of Development, Nicole Murray, Education Programs Manager, Ford’s Theatre Society; Richard Norton Smith, Split Rock Studios; Dennis Irvine, President and CEO of the Irvine Team.
In the wake of the acclaimed modernization and re-interpretation of historic Ford’s Theatre, panelists will discuss the intellectual, financial, creative, and marketing decisions that brought about Ford’s new look. (See Session 14, Saturday, for complementary tour.)
11:30am-1:30pm History Network/Lunch Break
Explore the festival-style display of local history resources and sites. Lunch is on your own in the neighborhood.
Noon–1:00pm Brown Bag Session
Bring your lunch and enjoy:
Session 2: Using GIS to Illustrate Neighborhood Growth
Brian Kraft, Independent Historian
Learn how the newest Geographic Information System mapping technology helps us understand how Washington has grown and changed over the decades. Using animated maps and other engaging visuals, Kraft demonstrates how this technology offers a new way to understand census data, building permits, and topography.
1:45-3:15 pm Concurrent Sessions
Session 3: Panel Discussion: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry in 1950-60s DC
Moderator: Jeff Krulik, Filmmaker
Panelists: CV Garnet, Independent Writer; Mike Baker, Computer Specialist; John Pagones, Washington Post “On the Town” columnist from 1959 to 1965; Don Press, Independent Historian.
Revisit popular and homegrown, yet now largely forgotten, DC nightclubs, bars, restaurants, and theaters via the panelists and a slide show from the Historical Society’s Emil Press Collection (1959-1979).
Session 4: The Underground Railroad in Metropolitan Washington, DC
Moderator: Jenny Masur, National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom
“The Drayton and Sayres Trials at the DC Courthouse,” Senior Judge Annice M. Wagner, DC Courts
“U.S. Colored Troops and Flight to Freedom in Prince George’s County,” Patsy Fletcher, DC State Historic Preservation Office
“Discovery of Underground Railroad in Prince William County,” Pat Knock, Independent Historian
Panelists present new research on the aftermath of the escape of enslaved men and women on the sailing ship Pearl, insights into the U.S. Colored Troops, and new information on the operations of the Underground Railroad in Confederate-held Prince William County, Virginia.
Session 5: Race Matters
Moderator: Brett Abrams, Independent Historian and NARA Archivist
“A Murder in a Lonely Spot,” Mark Herlong, Independent Researcher
“Wash and Food: Chinese Laundries and Restaurants as Sites of African American/Chinese Interracial Intimacy and Power in Twentieth-Century Washington, DC,” Wendy Marie Thompson, University of Minnesota
Herlong presents the 1880 murder of a popular white Sunday-school teacher, the quick arrest and prosecution of three young black men, and resulting racial tension. Thompson considers how Chinese immigrant men developed communities in Washington, including relationships with African Americans.
3:30-5:00pm Concurrent Sessions
Session 6: The R-Evolution of Photography in the Nation’s Capital
Moderator: William F. Stapp, Founding Curator of Photographs, National Portrait Gallery
“Photographers of Washington, DC: 1870-1885,” Laurie A. Baty, National Law Enforcement Museum
“Washington, DC though the Lens of African American Photographers,” Donna M. Wells, Independent Historian
“Highlights of the Historical Society Collections,” Colleen McKnight, Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
To mark the 170th anniversary of photography’s invention, panelists discuss DC’s early photographic history and most notable local practitioners of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Session 7: The Nine Lives of Marion Barry
Film and Discussion
Join producers Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer for a screening of their HBO documentary, followed by a discussion of the creative process and the film’s controversial protagonist.
Saturday, November 14
Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives, 1201 17th Street, NW
9:00am Registration Opens
9:30-11am Concurrent Sessions
Session 8: Panel Discussion: Dead End with a Million-Dollar View: The History of Elvans Road in Barry Farm
Moderator: Thomas Cantwell, author, “Anacostia: Strength in Adversity”
Participants: Trish Savage, student, University of the District of Columbia; Habeebah Muhammad, Anacostia Community Museum and lifelong resident of Elvans Road; René Emil Fractious, descendant of original Elvans Road lot owner; Michelle Powell, former Elvans Road resident; Peter S. Banks, co-author, The Unintended Consequences
Today’s Elvans Road testifies to the strong community that developed in Southeast at Barry Farm (now Hillsdale), where the Freedmen’s Bureau sold building lots to formerly enslaved men and women after the Civil War. Panelists trace Elvans Road residents since Reconstruction, looking at how the city’s rezoning, housing policies, and neglect of maintenance almost destroyed this neighborhood.
Session 9: Panel Discussion: How Soon We Forget: The Walter Pierce Park Archaeological Project and Reviving a Lost Memory of Post-Civil War Washington
Moderator: C. R. Gibbs, Historian
Participants: Mark Mack, Howard University; Mary Belcher, Community Historian; Eddie Becker, Community Historian and Filmmaker
Hear the results of the three-year archaeological survey and documentation of Adams Morgan’s Walter C. Pierce Community Park, where 7,500 people were buried in two cemeteries, one for African Americans and one for Quakers. Anthropology Professor Mack’s team used ground-penetrating radar to locate remains. They also created a biographical database on those interred, offering new insights into Washington’s Reconstruction and its aftermath.
Session 10: The Civil War Capital
Moderator: Gary Scott, Regional Historian, National Park Service
“Waiting for Lincoln: Friendship, Politics and Washington Society during Secession Winter, 1860-1861,” Rachel Shapiro, University of Virginia.
"How Washington Almost Lost the Capital (Again)," John P. Richardson, Independent Historian
Shapiro discusses how social activities helped build political support for the Union between Lincoln’s first election and the beginning of the Civil War. Richardson discusses the war’s physical impact on the city, the post-war attempt to relocate the national capital to the country’s geographic center, and Alexander R. Shepherd’s success in quashing the relocation threat.
11:15am-12:45pm Concurrent Sessions
Session 11: Panel Discussion: Sources on the History of Education in Washington
Moderator: Kimberly Springle, Sumner School Museum & Archives
Participants: Josephine Baker, DC Public Charter School Board; Robin Y. Jenkins, Education Licensure Commission; Hayden Wetzel, Sumner School Museum & Archives
Administrators and archivists describe their repositories as well as sources in the Archdiocese of Washington where DC’s private and public education below the college level is documented. Records reveal students and staff, administration and facilities, ephemera and artifacts as well as related activities such as the Safety Patrol and Cadets/JROTC.
Session 12: Making the Modern City
Moderator: Brett Abrams, Independent Scholar, NARA Archivist
“Capital Formation: The Distribution of Property Ownership in Washington, DC, 1790-1840,” Dana Stefanelli, University of Virginia
“Kennedy Brothers Construction in Princeton Heights,” Kent Boese, Independent Historian
“Washington’s World’s Fair Home: Selling the Suburbs,” David Rotenstein, Independent Historian
Stefanelli looks at the enduring real estate market that emerged despite the failure of the founding fathers’ development scheme. Boese shows how the Kennedy Brothers’ Park View housing offered the most modern and innovative product. Rotenstein discusses the thoroughly modern marketing schemes designed to lure buyers to a 1930s subdivision in Montgomery County, Maryland.
1:00-2:30 pm Special Tours
Session 13: On-Site Tour: Sumner School Museum & Archives
Join Archivist Hayden Wetzel for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Sumner School collections, and glimpse the life of DC schools over the last century and a half.
Session 14: Off-Site Tour: Ford’s Theatre, 511 Tenth Street, NW
Be one of the first 100 to claim your free, timed ticket to the “re-imagined” Ford’s Theatre (subject of Friday morning’s plenary session), where 19th-century artifacts present Lincoln’s presidency and life in Washington via 21st-century technology. Tickets are available at the Conference Registration Desk beginning Friday Nov. 13, on a first-come, first-served basis.
Association of Oldest Inhabitants
Charles Sumner School & Museum
Cultural Tourism DC
Friends of Washingtoniana Division
The Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
Rainbow History Project
Washingtoniana Division of the DC Public Library
Special Thanks for the Generous Contributions of
Karol A. Keane Design & Communications
Brett Abrams, Karen Blackman-Mills, Jeff Donahoe, Mark Greek, Derek Gray, Jane Freundel Levey, Colleen McKnight, Gary Scott, Kimberly Springle, Donna Wells