AHA18 Tours of DC

The Local Arrangements Committee has organized 12 tours highlighting the historical resources of Washington, DC. Participants will have a unique opportunity to take these tours with their fellow historians.

Preregistration for tours is highly recommended. Tour tickets are nonrefundable and cannot be exchanged. Tour participants mus tbe registered for the AHA meeting. Log in to the Registration Center or call (508) 743-0510 to add tickets to an existing registration.

Tour groups will meet in Room 8226 at the Marriott Wardman Park.

Tours may travel by bus or Metro. Fares and admission fees are included in the price of the tour unless otherwise specified. The Metro system is accessible. See the tour descriptions for details about the accessibility of each tour site. Accessible buses or alternate transportation for people with disabilities will be available on request. Contact annualmeeting@historians.org for additional information. 


Tour 1: The Frederick Douglass Home and National Historic Site - SOLD OUT

Thursday, January 4, 2018: 12:30-4:00 PM
Tour Leader: Ka'mal McClarin, Douglass Home and National Historic Site

Limit 15 people. $20 members, $25 nonmembers

The curator of the historic site will lead a tour of the Douglass home, Cedar Hill, the last residence (1878–95) of the 19th-century African American leader. Douglass escaped from slavery as a young man and became an unrelenting voice in the struggle for freedom and equality before the Civil War and beyond. The tour will provide insight into Douglass’s active political and warm family life. The spacious estate and its material culture tell many stories: of Douglass the family man, author, orator, and public figure; of Douglass’s interest in literature, games, music, health, learning, and travel; and of the people in Douglass’s life such as Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and John Brown.

Please note: Participants will travel by bus. The visitor center is ADA compliant. However, the historic house is at the top of a large hill and the second floor is accessible only by stairs.


Tour 2: Tour of The Value of Money Exhibition and the National Numismatic Collection at the National Museum of American History

Thursday, January 4, 2018: 1:00-4:30 PM
Tour Leader: Ellen Feingold, National Museum of American History

Limit 30 people. Free advance registration required

This curator-led tour will take participants through The Value of Money exhibition and behind the scenes in the National Numismatic Collection—a world-class collection of approximately 1.6 million historic monetary and transactional objects.

The Value of Money celebrates the power of using monetary objects to explore history. With objects from every inhabited continent, spanning more than 2,600 years, this exhibition showcases the National Numismatic Collection’s unique strengths, including the geographic and chronological diversity of the collection and the stunning rarities it contains. It examines the origins of money, new monetary technologies, the political and cultural messages money conveys, numismatic art and design, and the practice of collecting money. The Value of Money connects American history to global histories of exchange, cultural interaction and expression, political change, and innovation.

Please note: Participants should provide their own fare card for the free tour. The group will travel by Metro; the museum is a 5-minute walk from the Federal Triangle station. The museum is ADA compliant.


Tour 3: The Folger Shakespeare Library

Thursday, January 4, 2018: 1:30-4:30 PM
Tour Leader: Library Staff

Limit 50 people. $20 members, $25 nonmembers

The Folger Shakespeare Library holds the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare materials and major collections of Renaissance books, manuscripts, and art. The library building, opened in 1932, is a national historic landmark.

Please note:The group will travel by Metro (fare card provided); the library is a 5-minute walk from the Capitol South station. The library is ADA compliant.


Tour 4: Tour of Decatur House Led by the White House Historical Association

Thursday, January 4, 2018: 2:00-5:00 PM
Tour Leader: Evan Phifer, White House Historical Association

Limit 40 people. $20 members, $25 nonmembers

Built in 1818, Decatur House has been home to foreign and American dignitaries, secretaries of state, members of Congress, and a vice president, in addition to numerous free and enslaved servants who played a pivotal role in shaping America. Decatur House is one of only a few remaining examples of slave quarters in an urban setting.

The White House Historical Association, founded by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961, is a private non-profit educational organization with a mission to enhance the understanding and appreciation of the Executive Mansion.

The David M. Rubenstein National Center for White House History, established in 2010 and located at historic Decatur House, offers programs that enhance the understanding of the Executive Mansion and stimulate a sense of history and pride in our country.

Please note: The group will travel by Metro (fare card provided); the house is a 5-minute walk from the Farragut North station. The first and second floor parlors are wheelchair accessible, but the house does include several stairways.


Tour 5: National Museum of African American History and Culture

Friday, January 5, 2018: 10:00 AM-12:00 PM
Tour Leader:Museum Staff

Limit 50 people. Free tickets will be distributed by lottery

Join us for a tour of the highlights of the museum with a curatorial expert from the museum staff.

Please note: A limited number of free tickets will be distributed by lottery. Participants should provide their own fare card for the free tour. The group will travel by Metro; the museum is approximately half a mile from the Smithsonian station. The museum is ADA compliant.


Tour 6: Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I

Friday, January 5, 2018: 10:00 AM-12:00 PM
Tour Leaders: Ryan Reft, Library of Congress and Sahr Conway-Lanz, Library of Congress

Limit 30 people. $20 members, $25 nonmembers

Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I examines the upheaval of world war as Americans confronted it at home and abroad. Drawing on the Library of Congress’s extensive multi-format collections on World War I, the exhibition considers the debates and struggles that surrounded US engagement; explores US military and home front mobilization and the immensity of industrialized warfare; and touches on the war’s effects, as an international peace settlement was negotiated, national borders were redrawn, and soldiers returned to reintegrate into American society.

Please note: The group will travel by Metro (fare card provided); the library is a 5-minute walk from the Capitol South station. The library is ADA compliant.


Tour 7: Seeing Ancient Mesoamerica: Behind the Scenes of the Kislak Collection of the Archaeology of the Early Americas at the Library of Congress

Friday, January 5, 2018: 10:15 AM-1:00 PM
Tour Leader: John Hessler, Libary of Congress

Limit 25 people. $10

This tour will give attendees a behind the scenes look at the storage vaults where the archaeological treasures of the Americas held in the collections of the Library of Congress reside. Participants will experience first-hand the rare and important examples of Maya, Aztec, Taino, Inca, and Wari art and artifacts held by the library and get a look at some of the research taking place on these priceless pieces of cultural heritage.

Please note: The group will travel by Metro (fare card provided); the library is a 5-minute walk from the Capitol South station.


Tour 8: Archiving Taste: A Tour of the Food History Collection at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History - SOLD OUT

Friday, January 5, 2018: 1:00-3:00 PM
Tour leader: Paula Johnson, National Museum of American History and Ashley Rose Young, National Museum of American History

Limit 30 people. Free advance registration required

This curator-led tour accompanies session 84, “Archiving Taste: A Roundtable on Food History at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.” After a break during which participants may purchase lunch at the museum café, the group will convene for a tour of the NMAH Archives Center’s food history collections and the exhibition, FOOD: Transforming the American Table. The tour will conclude with a cooking demonstration led by historian Ashley Rose Young in the museum’s new professional kitchen on the Coulter performance plaza.

Please note: Attendees will travel on their own and meet at the museum, outside SC Johnson Center. The museum is a 5-minute walk from the Federal Triangle Metro station.


Tour 9: Giving in America: The Material Culture of Philanthropy at the National Museum of American History

Friday, January 5, 2018: 2:00-5:30 PM
Tour leader: Amanda Moniz, National Museum of American History

Limit 20 people. $10

The National Museum of American History’s philanthropy initiative invites historians interested in American philanthropy and humanitarianism, broadly conceived, to join Amanda Moniz, the David M. Rubenstein Curator of Philanthropy, for a tour and conversation at the museum.

Launched in 2015, the philanthropy initiative is a long-term project to collect, research, document, and display materials relating to the history and impact of American giving, broadly defined—from gifts of time and expertise to social activism and funding. An annual program, The Power of Giving: Philanthropy’s Impact on American Life, and new exhibition, Giving in America, explore the collaborative power of giving in all forms and at all levels across a wide spectrum of issues and movements. Annual themes focus on specific areas of giving—this year’s focus is sustainability and the environment—and are designed to help visitors make connections between historic and contemporary giving and each individual’s part in future solutions.

During the visit, we will tour the new Giving in America exhibit, discuss the philanthropy collecting plan, and discuss material culture approaches to studying the history of philanthropy.

Please note: The group will travel by Metro (fare card provided); the museum is a 5-minute walk from the Federal Triangle station. The museum is ADA compliant.


Tour 10: The African American Civil War Memorial and Museum in the Historic U Street Neighborhood

Saturday, January 6, 2018: 4:00-5:00 PM
Tour leader: Frank Smith, African American Civil War Memorial and Museum

Limit 50 people. $20 members, $25 nonmembers

Founder and executive director Frank Smith will lead a tour of the memorial and museum, situating them in the historic black U Street neighborhood. The neighborhood was once known as DC’s “Black Broadway” and is home of the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl. The memorial and museum are unique in being dedicated to the black men who fought for the Union in the Civil War, whose names are inscribed on the memorial. Exhibits explore the service of black men and their family members in support of the Union cause, in the context of the struggle against slavery as well as of black military service before and after the Civil War. The tour will conclude with reflections on the future of the changing neighborhood in a gentrifying DC and on the future expansion of the museum into the Grimké school next door (named for Archibald Grimké).

Please note: Participants will travel by bus to and from the museum. The museum is ADA compliant.


Tour 11: Foggy Bottom and the West End

Sunday, January 7, 2018: 10:00 AM-12:30 PM
Tour leader: Matthew Gilmore, H-DC

Limit 20 people. $20 members, $25 nonmembers

Matthew Gilmore will lead an exploration of the lesser-known aspects of Foggy Bottom and the West End—a neighborhood that has witnessed, participated in, and reflects Washington, DC’s unique history. The tour will illustrate the neighborhood’s shift from an industrial and residential area to an institutional and entertainment destination.

Participants will travel from the Washington’s first circle (The Circle) to the last remaining early industrial site in the city, along part of the avenue, then through the historic district and alley dwellings, and finally to the transformed Foggy Bottom of the Kennedy Center and Watergate. Additional stops include St. Mary’s Church, Columbia Plaza, the United States Institute of Peace, Braddock Rock, and more.

Please note: This walking tour involves walking a total of 2 miles over moderate terrain. Participants will travel to and from the start of the walking tour by bus.


Tour 12: President Lincoln's Cottage

Sunday, January 7, 2018: 10:30 AM-1:00 PM
Tour leader: Museum staff

Limit 20 people. $20 members, $25 nonmembers

President Lincoln’s Cottage is a historic site and museum located in the Petworth neighborhood of northwest Washington, DC. President Lincoln’s Cottage first opened to the public in February 2008, after an eight-year capital restoration project under the auspices of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It is the only place the public can experience the history of Abraham Lincoln’s public and private life, where he lived and worked for over a quarter of his presidency. While in residence at the cottage, Lincoln visited with wounded soldiers; spent time with self-emancipated men, women, and children; and developed the Emancipation Proclamation. The human cost of the Civil War surrounded him, undoubtedly impacting his thinking, and strengthened his resolve to challenge the status quo. We use Lincoln’s example to inspire visitors to take their own path to greatness, and preserve this place as an authentic, tangible connection to the past and a beacon of hope for all who take up Lincoln’s unfinished work.

Please note: Participants will travel by bus to and from the site. The site is ADA compliant.