Washington, DC Area Events

May 2014
Washington, DC, Area Events

U.S. Marine Band Chamber Ensemble (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Rachel Ghadiali)

Watch our programs live on Ustream! All book lectures and evening programs are streamed live for free at www.ustream.tv/usnationalarchives.

Program Highlights

  • The President’s Own” Marine Band Chamber Ensemble
    Enjoy a concert by the United States Marine Band Chamber Ensemble. (May 1)
  • A Nation of Immigrants: How They Have Shaped America
    We present a panel discussion in commemoration of Jewish American Heritage Month and in partnership with the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington. (May 14)
  • Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns
    View the three episodes of this Ken Burns documentary on American jazz on May 9, 16, and 23.
  • Garrison Keillor
    In recognition of the 40th anniversary of A Prairie Home Companion, Garrison Keillor discusses his latest book, The Keillor Reader: Stories, Essays, Poems, and Personal Reminiscences from the Sage of Lake Wobegon. (May 22)
  • Nixon Legacy Forums
    Panelists discuss “Nixon’s Transformation of the National Security Council” (May 12) and “Another Historic First: President Nixon and DC Home Rule” (May 16).
  • Film programs
    Stanley Nelson presents his film Freedom Summer, about the effort to register black voters in Mississippi in 1964 (May 28), and we continue our celebration of American jazz with Jazz Diplomacy, a selection of short films from the National Archives (May 30).
  • Noontime Lectures
    Hear the authors of Why We Fight: Congress and the Politics of World War II (May 1) A Republic Without Taxpayers? American Resisters to Progressive Taxation from the Civil War to the Present (May 5); The American Red Cross: From Clara Barton to the New Deal (May 13); A Very Principled Boy: The Life of Duncan Lee, Red Spy and Cold Warrior (May 14); How Could This Happen: Explaining the Holocaust (May 20); and I Heard My Country Calling: A Memoir (May 22).
  • Know Your Records
    Dive into Freedmen’s Bureau records (May 6); get started with the Introduction to Genealogy workshop (May 7); learn about Civil Rights Litigation Case Files (May 8); find out how about the Atlas of the Battlefield of Antietam (May 13 and 15); go Beyond the Basics with this genealogy lecture on Canadian border crossings (May 17) and land records (May 21); or make an appointment for genealogy research with “Help, I’m Stuck!” (May 17); and learn how to navigate Archives.gov for your family history research (May 28).

Locations, Hours, and Contact Information

All events listed in the calendar are free unless noted; reservations are not required unless noted. Seating is on a first-come, first–served basis. For McGowan Theater programs, unless otherwise noted, the doors to the building will open 45 minutes prior to the start of the program. Use the Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue.

Current Exhibitions

Thursday, May 1, at noon
Room G-25, Research Center (Penn. Ave. Entrance)
Why We Fight: Congress and the Politics of World War II

Nancy Beck Young, professor of history at the University of Houston, discusses her book and research in the records of the World War II Congresses. This researcher talk is produced by the Center for Legislative Archives.

U.S. Marine Band Chamber Ensemble (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Rachel Ghadiali)

Thursday, May 1, at 7 p.m.
William G. McGowan Theater
The President’s Own Marine Band Chamber Ensemble

Join us for a very special performance of the United States Marine Band Chamber Ensemble. Established by an Act of Congress in 1798, the Marine Band is America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization. The Marine Band is uniquely known as "The President's Own" because of its historic connection to the President of the United States. The relationship between the Marine Band and the White House began on New Year’s Day 1801, when President John Adams invited the band to perform at the Executive Mansion. Tonight’s performance will include music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Felix Mendelssohn, Richard Rodgers, and others.

Monday, May 5, at noon
Room G-25, Research Center (Penn. Ave. Entrance)
A Republic Without Taxpayers? American Resisters to Progressive Taxation from the Civil War to the Present

Romain Huret, associate professor of history at the University of Lyon (France), will discuss his book and research in antitax petitions sent to Congress. This researcher talk is produced by the Center for Legislative Archives.

Tuesday, May 6, at 11 a.m.
Room G-25, Research Center (Penn. Ave. Entrance)
The Dawn of Freedom: Researching of Records of the Freedmen's Bureau

Reginald Washington will discuss the importance and availability of these extraordinary records for African American genealogical research. He will offer research strategies for their use and show examples of the kinds of documentation found among the files.

Wednesday, May 7, at 11 a.m.
Room G-25, Research Center (Penn. Ave. Entrance)
Introduction to Genealogy at the National Archives

Learn how to do basic genealogical research using Federal records at the National Archives. Lectures take place on the first Wednesday of each month.

Thursday, May 8, at 11 a.m.
Lecture Room C, National Archives at College Park, MD
Civil Rights Litigation Case Files from the Department of Justice

Tina Ligon, archivist, discusses recently processed Department of Justice litigation case files that relate to the modern civil rights movement and highlight key events in African American history.

Friday, May 9, at noon
William G. McGowan Theater
Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns

Episode One: Gumbo. Jazz is born in New Orleans during the 1890s, at the height of the Jim Crow era. It is the creation of the African American community but incorporates every kind of music heard in the streets of the country’s most cosmopolitan city. (90 minutes.)

Jazz at the National Archives is made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives through the generous support of Natixis Global Asset Management.

President Richard Nixon (Courtesy of Richard Nixon Presidential Library)

Monday, May 12, at 10 a.m.
William G. McGowan Theater
Nixon Legacy Forum: Nixon’s Transformation of the National Security Council

Panelists include John Lehman, Bud McFarlane, and Winston Lord. Presented in partnership with the Richard Nixon Foundation.

Tuesday, May 13, at 11 a.m.
Room G-25, Research Center (Penn. Ave. Entrance)
“The Best War Map Ever Made.” Ezra Carman and the Atlas of the Battlefield of Antietam

Jamesina Thatcher will discuss her project on Ezra Carman and the making of the Atlas of the Battlefield of Antietam. She extensively used two collections at the National Archives to complete this project: Record Group 92, Antietam Battlefield Commission, and Record Group 94, Antietam Studies.

Thursday, May 15, at 11 a.m.
Repeated at the National Archives at College Park, MD, Lecture Room C

Tuesday, May 13, at noon
William G. McGowan Theater
The American Red Cross: From Clara Barton to the New Deal

Clara Barton fearlessly ventured onto Civil War battlefields to tend to wounded soldiers. She later worked with civilians in Europe during the Franco-Prussian War, lobbied legislators to ratify the Geneva conventions, and founded and ran the American Red Cross. Author Marian Moser Jones tells the story of the charitable organization from its start in 1881 to its relief efforts of the 1930s. A book signing will follow the program.

Wednesday, May 14, at noon
William G. McGowan Theater
A Very Principled Boy: The Life of Duncan Lee, Red Spy and Cold Warrior

Duncan Chaplin Lee was a Rhodes Scholar, patriot, and descendent of one of America’s most distinguished families—and possibly the best-placed mole ever to infiltrate U.S. intelligence operations. CIA officer Mark A. Bradley traces the Lee’s betrayal and reveals his struggle to stay one step ahead of America’s spy hunters during and after World War II. A book signing will follow the program.

Nick Kotz

Wednesday, May 14, at 7 p.m.
William G. McGowan Theater
A Nation of Immigrants: How They Have Shaped America

In commemoration of Jewish American Heritage Month, we present a panel discussion moderated by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author Nick Kotz and featuring journalists Steve V. Roberts, author of From Every End of the Earth: 13 Families and the New Lives They Made in America, and Sanford J. Ungar, author of Fresh Blood: The New American Immigrants. This program is presented in partnership with the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington. A book signing will follow the program.

Friday, May 16, at 10 a.m.
William G. McGowan Theater
Nixon Legacy Forum: Another Historic First: President Nixon and DC Home Rule

Between 1948 and 1966, six bills were introduced in Congress to provide for some sort of Home Rule for residents of the District of Columbia, but none passed. It was not until December 24, 1973, that Congress passed the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, which provided for a popularly elected mayor and 13-member city council, as well as for the District to have its own court system. A panel including Egil “Bud” Krogh, Donald Santarelli, and Sallyanne Payton, will discuss how the Nixon administration was able to bring about this historic accomplishment. Presented in partnership with the Richard Nixon Foundation.

Friday, May 16, at 1 p.m.
William G. McGowan Theater
Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns

Episode Two: The Gift. During the uproarious “Jazz Age” of the 1920s, the story of jazz becomes the story of two great cities, Chicago and New York, and of two extraordinary artists, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. (120 minutes.)

Jazz at the National Archives is made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives through the generous support of Natixis Global Asset Management.

Saturday, May 17, at 10 a.m.
Room G-25, Research Center (Penn. Ave. Entrance)
“Beyond the Basics” Genealogy: Canadian Border Crossings, 1895-1950s

Increase your archival research skills at the National Archives with a genealogy lecture by archivist Claire Kluskens on Canadian border crossings.

Saturday, May 17, at noon-4 p.m.
Room G-25, Research Center (Penn. Ave. Entrance)
“Help! I’m Stuck” Genealogy Consultation

Not sure where to begin? Has a genealogical problem stumped you? An archivist is available from noon to 4 p.m. to answer your questions. Sign up for a 20-minute appointment at the Microfilm Research desk on Saturday.

Tuesday, May 20, at noon
William G. McGowan Theater
How Could This Happen: Explaining the Holocaust

The Holocaust has long seemed incomprehensible, a monumental crime that defies our powers of description and explanation. How was such a nightmare possible in the heart of western civilization? In How Could This Happen, historian Dan McMillan distills the vast body of Holocaust research into a cogent explanation and comprehensive analysis of the genocide’s many causes, revealing how a once-progressive society like Germany could have carried out this crime. A book signing will follow the program.

Wednesday, May 21, at 11 a.m.
Room G-25, Research Center (Penn. Ave. Entrance)
“Beyond the Basics” Genealogy: Land Records

Increase your archival research skills at the National Archives with a genealogy lecture by archives specialist Rebecca Sharp on land records (all skill levels welcome).

Thursday, May 22, at noon
William G. McGowan Theater
I Heard My Country Calling: A Memoir

James Webb, former U.S. Senator; Secretary of the Navy; recipient of the Navy Cross, Silver Star, and Purple Heart as a combat Marine; and a self-described “military brat,” has written an extraordinary memoir of his early years and his love of country and service. A book signing will follow the program.

Thursday, May 22, at 7 p.m.
William G. McGowan Theater
The Keillor Reader:  Stories, Essays, Poems, and Personal Reminiscences from the Sage of Lake Wobegon

Garrison Keillor is the founder and host of A Prairie Home Companion, celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2014. Join us today as Keillor discusses his latest book, which brings together the full range of his work within a single volume: monologues from A Prairie Home Companion, stories from The New Yorker and The Atlantic, excerpts from novels, and newspaper columns. The Keillor Reader also presents pieces never before published, including the essays “Cheerfulness” and “What We Have Learned So Far.” A book signing will follow the program.

Friday, May 23, at noon
William G. McGowan Theater
Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns

Episode Three: Our Language. As the stock market soars to record heights, jazz is played in dance halls and speakeasies everywhere. For the first time, improvising soloists and singers take center stage. (120 minutes.)

Jazz at the National Archives is made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives through the generous support of Natixis Global Asset Management.

Wednesday, May 28, at 11 a.m.
Room G-25, Research Center (Penn. Ave. Entrance)
Genealogy Using Online Resources of the National Archives

Learn how to navigate Archives.gov for your family history research with archives specialist Nancy Wing.

Freedom Summer. (Courtesy Johnson Publishing Company, LLC. All rights reserved.)

Wednesday, May 28 at 7 p.m.
William G. McGowan Theater
Freedom Summer

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders, The Murder of Emmett Till), Freedom Summer highlights an overlooked but essential element of the civil rights movement: the patient and long-term efforts by outside activists and local citizens in Mississippi to organize communities and register black voters-even in the face of intimidation, physical violence, and death. A Firelight Films Production for American Experience. (2013; 113 minutes.) Stanley Nelson will introduce the screening and answer audience questions.

 

 

Ellington in India

Friday, May 30, at noon
William G. McGowan Theater
From the Vaults: Jazz Diplomacy

Today we present a selction of short films from the holdings of the National Archives related to the U.S. Government’s use of jazz as a diplomatic tool during the Cold War era. (60 minutes.)

Jazz at the National Archives is made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives through the generous support of Natixis Global Asset Management.

 

 

 

Boeing Learning Center

An exciting space designed to provide parents and educators of all levels with methods and materials for teaching with primary source documents. Open Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

Learn more about Education programs at the National Archives.

The ReSource Room is open Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

Exhibitions

“Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures”
“Making Their Mark: Stories through Signatures” displays both famous and little-known signatures found in the holdings of the National Archives. Discover the invention Michael Jackson patented; see “signature” items worn by Jacqueline Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, and First Lady Michelle Obama; and discover what prompted Katharine Hepburn, Johnny Cash, and Jackie Robinson to write to the government. “Making Their Mark” explores the stores behind the signatures that made their mark on the American narrative. Lawrence F. O'Brien Gallery

"Records of Rights"
“Records of Rights” uses original documents, photographs, facsimiles, videos, and interactive exhibits to explore how Americans have worked to realize their nation’s ideals of freedom and and how they have debated issues such as citizenship, free speech, voting rights, and equal opportunity. Exploring many stories—and showcasing the drive for civil rights for African Americans, women, and immigrants—the new exhibition chronicles the past and current generations whose efforts to secure equality under the law have shaped the country we live in today. David M. Rubenstein Gallery

1297 Magna Carta
Magna Carta, on permanent loan from David M. Rubenstein, is on view as a feature of the “Records of Rights” exhibit. Magna Carta inspired the nation’s founders, and serves as an important chapter in the evolution of rights in the United States. David M. Rubenstein Gallery

Orientation Plaza
This beautiful space features a short video introduction to the National Archives and its activities, a video orientation wall highlighting the eight prime visitor destinations within the National Archives Museum, and touch-screen mapping stations. Ground Level

Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom

  • Declaration of Independence
  • Constitution
  • Bill of Rights

Permanent Exhibitions

The Charters of Freedom: Our Nation’s Founding Documents” takes a fresh look at the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Using historical documents from the holdings of the National Archives, we answer two key questions about the Charters: “How did they happen?” and “Why are they important?” This Rotunda exhibit also touches on the roles played by women and slaves in the Revolutionary War. Don’t miss the remarkable story of Elizabeth Burgin’s heroic role in a successful plot to free soldiers from British prison ships.

The Public Vaults” invites visitors into virtual stack areas to discover historic documents, films, maps, and photographs from the National Archives. In interactive displays, visitors may hear Presidents discuss some of the country’s greatest challenges, step into the boots of soldiers on the front lines, or follow an investigation of the sinking of the Titanic. Upper Level

A rare print on parchment of the Declaration of Independence—made from the original copperplate engraved by William J. Stone in 1823—is on display for a limited time. Courtesy of David M. Rubenstein.

This year’s featured adventurer in “Polar Exploration” is explorer Robert E. Peary, who made two unsuccessful attempts before finally claiming to reach the Pole in 1909.


Featured Documents on Display in Washington, DC

Featured Document Display: The Smith-Lever Act
The Smith-Lever Act is on display in commemoration of its 100th anniversary on May 8. The act established a national Cooperative Extension Service which extended outreach programs through land-grant universities to educate rural Americans about advances in agricultural practices and technology. Cooperative extension increased agricultural productivity in the United States throughout the 20th century. East Rotunda Gallery, April 17 through May 8

Featured Document Display: Mother’s Letter to the Children’s Bureau
This letter written in 1920 was one of hundreds addressed to the Children’s Bureau by mothers and soon-to-be mothers seeking advice and support in the care of children. The author’s description of her joy, guilt, and frustration raising her three children is both touching and timeless. East Rotunda Gallery, May 9 to 21.

Featured Document Display: Memorial Day
To commemorate Memorial Day, we will display the 1869 Whitman Report on Cemeteries, open to an illustration of the cemetery at the site of the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee. East Rotunda Gallery, May 22 to June 5.

The National Archives Museum’s "Featured Documents" exhibit is made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives through the generous support of Toyota.


Special Exhibition in College Park, Maryland

Auditorium Lobby at the National Archives Research Center:

"The Long View" features digitally produced facsimiles of historic panoramic photographs from the Still Picture holdings.

Motorcycle Corps, Army Motor Service - Under Command of J. S. Berryman. US Capitol. Wash., DC. Jan. 26, 1919, By R. S. Clements. Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (165-PP-60-47)

The exhibit not only showcases the wide variety of panoramic techniques, but also includes National Archives records such as cartographic maps and patent drawings that relate to the photographs. Thirty-four panoramas and other records are on display and span the period from 1864 to 1997.
See more panoramas online


Online Exhibits

Dozens of exhibits can be experienced online. Visit Now!

To the Brink: JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis
An exhibit marking the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis..

What's Cooking Uncle Sam? logo “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?”
Unearth the stories and personalities behind the increasingly complex programs and legislation that affect what we eat. Learn about the Government’s extraordinary efforts, successes, and failures to change our eating habits. Find out why the Government wanted us to “Eat the Carp,” “Share the Meat,” and “Know Our Onions.” There are over 100 original records in the exhibit—including folk songs, war posters, educational films, and even seed packets. From Revolutionary War rations to Cold War cultural exchanges, discover the multiple ways that food has occupied the hearts and minds of Americans and their Government.
Online exhibit

Discovering the Civil War ExhibitDiscovering the Civil War
Unlock secrets, solve mysteries, and uncover unexpected events in this most extensive display ever assembled from the incomparable Civil War holdings of the National Archives.
Online exhibit

child with coal dust on face Eyewitness:  American Originals from the National Archives
Drawing on rarely displayed documents, audio recordings, and film footage culled from the extensive holdings of the National Archives and its Presidential libraries, "Eyewitness" features first-person accounts of watershed moments in history. Online exhibit


Locations, Hours, and Contact Information

The National Archives Experience
Constitution Avenue between 7th and 9th Streets, NW, Washington, DC

For details, see the Visitor's Map or visit the National Archives Experience.

Exhibit Hours:

  • 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
  • Last admission is at 5 p.m.
  • Open every day except Thanksgiving and December 25.

Admission free.

All events listed in the calendar are free unless noted; reservations are not required unless noted. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. For McGowan Theater programs, the doors to the building will open 30 minutes prior to the start of the program. Use the Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue.

For details, see the Visitor's Map or visit the National Archives Experience.

For reservations or to be placed on the mailing list, call 202-357-5000, or toll free at 1-877-874-7616, or e-mail public.program@nara.gov.

Museum Visit Reservations: To make reservations to visit the museum, especially during the height of the tourist season and holiday periods use online reservations. As of March 15, 2013, the last reservation slot is 4:30 p.m. If you have a reservation for later than 4:30 p.m., you will have to reschedule the visit.


The National Archives Research Center
700 Penn. Ave., NW, Washington, DC and 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD.

Research Hours for both locations:

  • Monday - Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Closed on Federal holidays. National Archives research rooms will be closed on Monday, May 26, for Memorial Day.

Check the Washington, DC and College Park, MD location information for records pull times and other important details.

Call 202-357-5450 for a docent-led guided tour.

wheelchair icon TDD: 301-837-0482. The National Archives is fully accessible. To request an accommodation (such as a sign language interpreter) for a public program, please call 202-357-5000, or toll free at 1-877-874-7616, or email public.program@nara.gov at least two weeks prior to the event.


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