DC History Center

DC History Center An educational nonprofit that deepens understanding of DC's past to connect, empower, and inspire.
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The DC History Center will reopen this Saturday, January 6. We look forward to welcoming you back after the holiday seas...
01/04/2024

The DC History Center will reopen this Saturday, January 6. We look forward to welcoming you back after the holiday season!

Put on your best hat to gather with friends and ring in the new year! These friends are gathered on Minniesha "Minnie's"...
12/31/2023

Put on your best hat to gather with friends and ring in the new year! These friends are gathered on Minniesha "Minnie's" Island circa 1923.

📷 Clarence R. Shoemaker photograph collection, SH A12A-K.

Who is dreaming of a snowy winter in DC? We're ready to bundle up like Mary Taft pictured here circa 1897 to 1898 on 9th...
12/27/2023

Who is dreaming of a snowy winter in DC? We're ready to bundle up like Mary Taft pictured here circa 1897 to 1898 on 9th Street NW for snowball fights, making snowmen, and of course, shoveling the sidewalks.

📷 Henry Arthur Taft photograph collection, TA 62.

Rocking around the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse in 1954. Warm holiday wishes to everyone celebrating today! 📷 ...
12/25/2023

Rocking around the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse in 1954. Warm holiday wishes to everyone celebrating today!

📷 Cleveland Park, Georgetown, and General Architectural Slide collection, CPG C019.

In a city that's always changing, ask yourself: what used to be here? Before it was Capital One Arena, it was the Verizo...
12/20/2023

In a city that's always changing, ask yourself: what used to be here? Before it was Capital One Arena, it was the Verizon Center (2006-2017) and before that, the MCI Center (1997-2006). But what did 7th Street and Chinatown look like before that? We're sharing a few historic photos to help us look back in time at what the neighborhood looked like before the Capital One Arena that we know today.

For a more in-depth discussion, check out https://bit.ly/3S0NUYV.

Photo 1: Verizon Center in 2015. Photo by John DeFerrari.

Photo 2: The corner of 7th and F Streets NW between 1910 and 1920. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540

Photo 3: Commercial buildings on the east side of the 600 block of 7th Street NW circa 1965. Emil A. Press slide collection, PR 1114B.

Photo 4: The same view, just a few years later, of commercial buildings on the east side of the 600 block of 7th Street NW circa 1971. Buildings include the Bargaintown DC Store (1966-1971) and the Barrister Building. Miriam E. Johnson photograph collection, JO O169.

For all those burning the toy-building midnight oil this holiday season, take a look at how the pros did it. This is Jam...
12/15/2023

For all those burning the toy-building midnight oil this holiday season, take a look at how the pros did it. This is James Butcher, the craftsman behind Butcher-Built Doll Houses, active 1926-1950. Learn more about this local business through the James W. Butcher papers (MS 0507).

Thank you for celebrating DC history with us this year! Share something you loved most about DC history or your favorite...
12/13/2023

Thank you for celebrating DC history with us this year! Share something you loved most about DC history or your favorite program in the comments.

If you'd like to make a donation to help support more programs, exhibits, and research next year, please visit https://bit.ly/4837MzB.

This postcard from the National Temperance Union (founded in DC in 1905) lists the locations of saloons in downtown Wash...
12/12/2023

This postcard from the National Temperance Union (founded in DC in 1905) lists the locations of saloons in downtown Washington. Did you know that Prohibition in DC started earlier (1917) and ended later (1934) than anywhere else in the country? It's one more example of DC serving as a testing ground for national policies due to its District status.

📷 General Postcard Collection, PC MS .Saloon

Donate today to help the DC History Center celebrate and showcase more of Washington's diverse people, neighborhoods, an...
12/07/2023

Donate today to help the DC History Center celebrate and showcase more of Washington's diverse people, neighborhoods, and institutions. Thank you in advance for your generosity and support of this vital work! https://bit.ly/4837MzB

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the DC History Center exhibits, store, and library will be closed on Saturday, December...
12/01/2023

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the DC History Center exhibits, store, and library will be closed on Saturday, December 2 and Sunday, December 3.

Traveling for the holidays? Or staying local, like these Washingtonians, traveling along Pennsylvania Avenue NW circa 19...
11/22/2023

Traveling for the holidays? Or staying local, like these Washingtonians, traveling along Pennsylvania Avenue NW circa 1920 to 1929?

📷 General Photograph Collection, CHS 01591

In celebration of Benjamin Banneker's birthday, we're excited to announce that the DC History Center and historian and a...
11/09/2023

In celebration of Benjamin Banneker's birthday, we're excited to announce that the DC History Center and historian and author Briana Thomas are partnering with the Washington Wizards to produce a three-part video series that brings the little-known history of the Boundary Stones to life for residents and visitors to learn more about the significance of the monuments.

Starting in 1791, the US government placed 40 stones that delineated the District’s original boundaries, encompassing DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Today people travel from near and far to visit the area’s most popular historic sites, but many are unaware that these modest stones, of which 36 are still in place, are arguably America’s first federal monuments—and DC’s oldest landmarks.

Read more on our blog:

Beyond the National Mall and the region’s recreational parks, there’s modest markers of the DMV’s earliest history called Boundary Stones.

This Election season, we invite you to check out our exhibit: DC Home Rule 50 which explores urgent themes of self-gover...
11/07/2023

This Election season, we invite you to check out our exhibit: DC Home Rule 50 which explores urgent themes of self-governance, full citizenship, free elections, and DC statehood. The pop-up exhibit is located in the West Gallery at the DC History Center and placed in conversation with the main exhibit, THE BIG PICTURE.

The exhibits are open:
Thursday - Friday from 12 - 7 PM
Saturday - Sunday from 12 - 6 PM

For more online information about DC Statehood, check out these additional resources from our library: https://bit.ly/47lyUcH

📷 Photo by Phillip Warfield

Happy Halloween! Enjoy three spooky ghost stories from our library including the tale of The Three Sisters, ghosts trapp...
10/31/2023

Happy Halloween! Enjoy three spooky ghost stories from our library including the tale of The Three Sisters, ghosts trapped in the columns at the Building Museum, and the haunted Octagon House. 👻

📷 Octagon House on the northeast corner of New York Avenue and 17th Street NW. in 1927, Joseph E. Bishop photograph collection, SP 0004.

Check out these Washington, DC ghost stories from the DC History Center library.

Members of the Bicycle Club ride "highwheelers" in front of the row of professors' houses at Gallaudet College, circa 18...
10/26/2023

Members of the Bicycle Club ride "highwheelers" in front of the row of professors' houses at Gallaudet College, circa 1880.

📷: Olmsted Heritage photograph collection, SP 0057

Wow we had a blast on Saturday! Our annual community day On the Square shows the best of the best at  and showcases our ...
10/18/2023

Wow we had a blast on Saturday! Our annual community day On the Square shows the best of the best at and showcases our nearby neighborhoods and partners. Here are a few of our favorite moments with the more than 300 of you who braved the rain ☔️ to make it such a special day! 🟨🟧🟥🟪🟦

Shoutout to the DC History Center staff and volunteers who made it all possible.

📸: and

This National Hispanic Heritage month, we're sharing this photo from the Martha Tabor collection, which features Salvado...
10/13/2023

This National Hispanic Heritage month, we're sharing this photo from the Martha Tabor collection, which features Salvadoran immigrants Maria and Horacio Artiga enjoying time on their Mount Pleasant porch with their children in 1980. Pictured: Maria and Horacio, with Horacio, Olga, and Connie.

For more on DC's Latino/a/x history, check out our Researching Latino/a/x DC Research Guide: https://bit.ly/48x4m99

📷: Martha Tabor photograph collection, SP 0090

This Indigenous Peoples Day, we're highlighting a recent acquisition at the DC History Center. The inaugural cookbook of...
10/09/2023

This Indigenous Peoples Day, we're highlighting a recent acquisition at the DC History Center. The inaugural cookbook of the American Indian Society (AIS) of Washington, DC explores the rich cultural tradition of Indigenous foodways through a collection of community sources recipes. Read more:

The DC History Center recently acquired the American Indian Society of Washington DC Cookbook exploring the tradition of Indigenous foodways.

Join us next Saturday, October 14 for our annual community day: On the Square! Come explore the history and culture of D...
10/05/2023

Join us next Saturday, October 14 for our annual community day: On the Square! Come explore the history and culture of Downtown DC with the DC History Center as your guide.

Take a free 45-minute walking tour of nearby Mount Vernon, Shaw, and Chinatown neighborhoods. Make a collage inspired by our historic collections and visit the Kiplinger Research Library to take a closer look at the collections and learn about making an appointment. See “Archives in Action” during pop-up talks in THE BIG PICTURE, where you’ll get an exclusive sneak peek at our next exhibit and learn about researching family history. Join us in the Forum with Apple for a workshop with local poets Sami Miranda and Kenneth Carroll. Whether you’re an old friend or looking for a reason to visit, this event is for you!

Register in advance and arrive early for a chance to enter a raffle and receive even more perks like discounts at local restaurants! https://bit.ly/3PzKIky

📷 Photos from 2022 by Shedrick Pelt.

Let's be friends! Starting today, we're launching a new membership program with new benefits, new tiers, and new ways to...
10/02/2023

Let's be friends! Starting today, we're launching a new membership program with new benefits, new tiers, and new ways to get involved. Join us to stay connected with options starting at $20.

Learn more: https://bit.ly/3PDNJjK

Join us at Events DC’s “A Night Circus” during the city’s Art All Night festivities on the Carnegie Library lawn on Satu...
09/28/2023

Join us at Events DC’s “A Night Circus” during the city’s Art All Night festivities on the Carnegie Library lawn on Saturday, September 30 at 7 PM.

This family-friendly activation features circus performers including flame artists, jugglers, magicians, unicyclists, and aerialists. Plus, stop by the DC History Center table to make collages like the one pictured using copies of photographs, maps, and other materials from the collection. Learn more here: https://bit.ly/3ZtOEI1

We were so excited to connect with community members and bust some common myths at the DC State Fair! Did you know Washi...
09/26/2023

We were so excited to connect with community members and bust some common myths at the DC State Fair! Did you know Washington, DC wasn't actually built on a swamp? Most of the area was dry land with tidal marsh bordering the two rivers.

Missed this event? Join us for On the Square on October 14! Learn more: https://bit.ly/3PzKIky

Join the DC History Center and NEWorks Productions this Friday, July 21 at 5:30 PM for a FREE screening of the award-win...
07/19/2023

Join the DC History Center and NEWorks Productions this Friday, July 21 at 5:30 PM for a FREE screening of the award-winning, one-hour documentary "Becoming Douglass Commonwealth" at the DC History Center. After the film, stick around for a one-time-only conversation about DC statehood with Senator Paul Strauss, historian G. Derek Musgrove, and DC Vote's Kelsye Adams, moderated by the film’s producer and director, Nolan Williams, Jr.

This event is co-presented by the DC History Center, NEWorks Productions, and the Office of the Secretary of State of the District of Columbia.

Learn more and RSVP here: https://bit.ly/3rzwebQ

Looking for weekend plans? Spots are still open on DC Preservation League's C&O Canal Boat Tour on Saturday, June 24! Le...
06/21/2023

Looking for weekend plans? Spots are still open on DC Preservation League's C&O Canal Boat Tour on Saturday, June 24! Learn about the history, technology, and culture of the C&O Canal—a hub of transport and industry that operated from 1831 to 1934.

This event will run rain or shine.
Use the code "BOAT" for $35 tickets!

Have you used the C & O Canal for outdoor recreation here in the District? The canal stretches 184.5 miles and is a popular biking, hiking, and running spot for Washingtonians and Marylanders alike. Originally called "the grand old ditch," the canal is a central part of the District's history. Read on to learn more about the history of this waterway!

The C & O Canal is a National Historical Park listed on the DC Inventory and the National Register. The C&O Canal Company was chartered in 1825 and the groundbreaking was celebrated by President John Quincy Adams at Little Falls in 1828. The canal stretches from Georgetown to Cumberland, MD. The canal was used as a source of water mill power from 1837 and reached peak tonnage in 1871. The canal included the world’s largest boat incline, used for lowering barges to the Potomac River near Georgetown, which was completed in 1876 but destroyed by flood in 1889.

The canal served as the major commercial artery in the Potomac Valley. Along the canal, significant quantities of food, fuel, and building materials were transported to supply the growing national capital. As a result, an adjacent business district was created and expanded, and many of these businesses utilized the canal for water resources.

The C&O Canal ceased commercial operations after a 1924 flood. It was acquired by the Department of the Interior as a historic site in 1938. By the 1950s, many individuals saw the canal as an artifact of days gone by and wanted to build a scenic highway along the Potomac River, layered directly over the canal itself.

One man, Justice William O. Douglas, actively opposed this construction plan. He organized community hikes and lobbied for the preservation of the canal throughout the 1960s, with his efforts culminating in the designation of the C&O Canal as a National Historical Park in 1971.

Today, people continue to hike, bike, run, and walk the canal. It’s a great resource for outdoor recreation here in the District.

Join DCPL for a canal boat tour at 12:00 PM on June 24th through the Georgetown Heritage organization! Sign up here: https://dcpreservation.app.neoncrm.com/np/clients/dcpreservation/event.jsp?event=317&

Images courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

Want to preserve your LGBTQIA+ stories? Come to the Mt. Pleasant Library on tomorrow, June 10 and digitize your prized p...
06/09/2023

Want to preserve your LGBTQIA+ stories? Come to the Mt. Pleasant Library on tomorrow, June 10 and digitize your prized photographs, letters, and other possessions with the help of the DC Public Library's Memory Lab. Scanners and laptops will be available; staff will be providing step-by-step assistance with scanning and storing. Guests are encouraged to bring their own external drives, but USBs will be available if needed.

Stop by and chat with DCPL's Memory Lab, The People's Archive, and DC History Center:

- Discover LGBTQIA+ materials and collections
- Learn about personal archiving and best practices
- Make a button inspired by the Rainbow History Project's collection

Memory-Making: Sharing and Preserving Q***r History

Saturday, June 10 | 12:00PM
Mt. Pleasant Library

Digitize your prized photographs, letters, and other possessions with the help of The Memory Lab.

Registration: https://bit.ly/45RwC5l

Happy Pride Month, DC! 🏳️‍🌈 In this photo, a mother holds a sign that reads "I Am Proud of My Le***an Daughters" during ...
06/02/2023

Happy Pride Month, DC! 🏳️‍🌈 In this photo, a mother holds a sign that reads "I Am Proud of My Le***an Daughters" during the National March for Le***an and Gay Rights on October 11, 1987. Behind her, a woman holds a sign "Closets Are For Clothes!"

Over 500,000 people marched during the three-day event to show their anger at the Federal Government's slow response to the AIDS crisis. It was also the first time the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt was on display.

📷: Martha Tabor photograph collection, SP 090

  Two boys play catch on 16th Street NE between Levis and Oates Streets, May 30, 1949.📷: John P. Wymer photograph collec...
05/30/2023

Two boys play catch on 16th Street NE between Levis and Oates Streets, May 30, 1949.

📷: John P. Wymer photograph collection, WY 1279.25

Read all about it! The spring 2023 issue of Washington History magazine is hot off the press.Its stories spotlight Washi...
05/12/2023

Read all about it! The spring 2023 issue of Washington History magazine is hot off the press.

Its stories spotlight Washingtonians’ pursuit of safety and survival, especially through collective action. See Nancy Shia’s photographs of local protests and activism—a fraction of her extensive portfolio capturing the beauty of DC’s lesser-known residents.

Want more? Buy a copy at the DC History Center Store! https://bit.ly/3nN0z5q

You can also peruse a digital version on JSTOR, or become a member to never miss an issue. Learn more on dchistory.org.

Just two more days until we kick off the DC History Conference! Check out John Kelly's column and find out what's in sto...
03/21/2023

Just two more days until we kick off the DC History Conference! Check out John Kelly's column and find out what's in store at this year's event.

“The best part about history is there’s never a dull moment.”

Which image of Takoma Theater was taken in 1966? How do you know?Join the DC History Center in celebrating the launch of...
02/21/2023

Which image of Takoma Theater was taken in 1966? How do you know?

Join the DC History Center in celebrating the launch of Shedrick Pelt’s new book District Postcard Views. Come when the event kicks off at 5 pm to enjoy music, empanadas, and tea while in conversation with our community of creatives, historians, and storytellers. At 6 pm, we will gather in the West Gallery for a short, sit-down program honoring our city’s past and Shedrick’s work in conversation with Austin Graff, Jay Coleman, and Monique Rochon. Looking closely together at what is, we’ll wonder what was.

Copies of District Postcard Views will be available for purchase in the DC History Center store. RSVP encouraged, but all are welcome.

📷: 1) Takoma Theater, courtesy Shedrick Pelt 2) Takoma Theatre and adjacent stores on the southeast corner of 4th and Butternut Streets NW. (The Emil A. Press Slide Collection, PR 1221B).

Address

801 K Street, NW
Washington D.C., DC
20001

Opening Hours

Thursday 12pm - 7pm
Friday 12pm - 7pm
Saturday 12pm - 6pm
Sunday 12pm - 6pm

Telephone

+12025161363

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@DCHistory and the DC History Center in the Carnegie Library are managed by 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. Washington is known throughout the world as a monumental federal city. Less well-known are the stories of Washington’s many diverse and vibrant communities. The Historical Society helps make this local history readily available to the public to promote a sense of identity, place, and pride in Washington and to preserve this heritage for future generations. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram! @DCHistory


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