Washington, DC Area Events

May 2015
Washington, DC, Area Events

A well-stocked Los Angeles store awaits repeal of Prohibition, December 1933. (RG 306, Records of the U.S. Information Agency)

You can watch some of our programs live on YouTube. Look for the US National Archives YouTube Channel logo in a program description and click it to watch live or catch up later.

Live captioning will be available online and in the William G. McGowan Theater. If you require an alternative or additional accommodation for an event (such as a downloadable transcript or a sign language interpreter), please send an email to public.program@nara.gov or call 202-357-5000 in advance.

“Spirited Republic” is presented in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of HISTORY®, the Lawrence F. O'Brien Family, The Tasting Panel Magazine, and Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America. Additional exhibition funding provided by the Beer Institute, the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S., the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association, and the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

Program Highlights

  • Lincoln and the Jews
    Jonathan D. Sarna tells the story of President Lincoln’s extraordinary relationship with Jews. (May 7)
  • Second American Revolution with Joseph Ellis
    Joesph Ellis discusses his latest book, The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution. (May 12)
  • Forum on National Civics Poll: How Competent a Citizen Are You?
    Join a discussion about the results of a Purdue University poll on civic knowledge. (May 13).
  • Victory Garden Family Puppet Program
    Bring your family to a puppet show and join in other activities inspired by the Victory Gardens of World War II. (May 16)
  • Boardwalk Empire
    Go behind the scenes of Boardwalk Empire with the show’s producer, actors, and others. (May 21)
  • Lincoln’s Constitutional Vision with Akhil Amar and Harold Holzer
    Legal scholar Akhil Reed Amar and Lincoln historian Harold Holzer discuss the effects of geography and regionalism on constitutional law and how President Lincoln’s ideas about secession were influenced by his Midwestern outlook. (May 28)
  • Ken Burns’s Prohibition
    This month we begin showing episodes of the 2011 PBS series. (May 15, May 22, and May 29)
  • Noontime Lectures
    Hear the authors of 88 Days to Kandahar: A CIA Diary (May 5); Freedom of Speech: Mightier Than the Sword (May 13); The Baltimore Sabotage Cell: German Agents, American Traitors, and the U-Boat Deutschland During World War I (May 18); and The Bill of Rights: The Fight to Secure America’s Liberties (May 27); and The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of High Noon (May 28).
  • Know Your Records
    Get started with the Introduction to Genealogy workshop (May 6); learn how to use records about artificial limbs for Union Civil War Veterans (May 14); find out about Confederate pardon and amnesty records (May 21); and get help from an archivist (May 16).

Locations, Hours, and Contact Information

All events listed in the calendar are free unless noted. Reservations for McGowan Theater programs are not required but are recommended. Use the new online event registration system from the National Archives Foundation to reserve your seats:
1. Register at www.archivesfoundation.org/events/
2. Print your email confirmation and bring it with you.
3. To reserve by phone, call 202-357-6814. Walk-ins without reservations will be admitted, depending on available seats.

For McGowan Theater programs, use the Special Events Entrance on Constitution Avenue. The doors to the building will open 45 minutes prior to the start of the program.

Current Exhibitions

Lost and Found

  • National Archives at Washington, DC: 202-357-5023
  • National Archives at College Park: 301-837-2900

Tuesday, May 5, at noon
William G. McGowan Theater & US National Archives YouTube Channel
88 Days to Kandahar: A CIA Diary

Robert Grenier was the CIA station chief in Islamabad when he launched the “southern campaign,” orchestrating the final defeat of the Taliban and Hamid Karzai’s rise to power in 88 chaotic days. A book signing will follow the program. Make your free reservation.

Wednesday, May 6, 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 7, at 7 p.m.
William G. McGowan Theater & US National Archives YouTube Channel
Lincoln and the Jews: A History

Jonathan D. Sarna tells the full story of Lincoln’s extraordinary relationship with Jews for the first time. Lincoln’s lifetime coincided with the emergence of Jews on the national scene in the United States. He befriended Jews, promoted Jewish equality, appointed numerous Jews to public office, and had Jewish advisors and supporters. Joining Dr. Sarna will journalist and author Steven V. Roberts. A book signing will follow the program. Presented in partnership with the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington. Make your free reservation.

 

Tuesday, May 12, at 7 p.m.
William G. McGowan Theater & US National Archives YouTube Channel
The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution

In 1776, 13 American colonies declared themselves independent states that only temporarily joined forces in order to defeat the British. Once victorious, they planned to go their separate ways. In The Quartet, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Joseph J. Ellis tells the story of this second American founding and of the men most responsible for creating the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the creation of the United States of America. A book signing follows the program. Make your free reservation.

 

 

Wednesday, May 13, at noon
William G. McGowan Theater & US National Archives YouTube Channel
Freedom of Speech: Mightier Than the Sword

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist David K. Shipler discusses his book, Freedom of Speech: Mightier than the Sword. Shipler focuses on recent free speech controversies across the nation and reveals the patterns of both suppression and opportunity that are making today a transitional moment. A book signing follows the program. Make your free reservation.

Wednesday, May 13, at 6 p.m.
William G. McGowan Theater & US National Archives YouTube Channel
Forum on National Civics Poll: How Competent a Citizen Are You?

From October 2014 through April 2015, Purdue University students led by former U.S. Ambassador Carolyn Curiel polled 1,100 American adults in the areas of civic knowledge, civic participation, and civic confidence. Tonight, Paula Dwyer, an editor at Bloomberg View, will moderate a discussion with some of these students and present the findings. Presented in partnership with C-SPAN and the Purdue Institute for Civic Communication. Make your free reservation.

Thursday, May 14, at 2 p.m.
William G. McGowan Theater & US National Archives YouTube Channel
Genealogy: Using Records of Artificial Limbs for Union Civil War Veterans, 1861-1927

Claire Kluskens, archivist, will discuss records in the National Archives that may give information about a veteran’s medical condition and whether he received money or an artificial limb from the U.S. Government. Presentation materials are available online.

Friday, May 15, at noon
William G. McGowan Theater
Prohibition: A Nation of Drunkards

Episode one of the 2011 PBS series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick describes how immigration, alcoholism, women’s suffrage, and the temperance movements led to the passing of the 18th Amendment. (91 minutes.)

Saturday, May 16, noon-2 p.m.
William G. McGowan Theater and Lobby
Victory Garden Family Puppet Program

Join us for a puppet show inspired by the Victory Gardens of World War II. Before or after the show, try one of our other activities, such as planting a vegetable to start your own victory garden or creating a shadow puppet. This program is supported by the National Archives Foundation through the generosity of John Hancock and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

Saturday, May 16, 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.

Monday, May 18, at noon
William G. McGowan Theater & US National Archives YouTube Channel
The Baltimore Sabotage Cell: German Agents, American Traitors, and the U-Boat Deutschland During World War I

By the summer of 1915, Germany was faced with two major problems in fighting World War I: the British blockade and how to disrupt the British supply line across the Atlantic. Their solution was to create a U-boat fleet and employ German agents to carry out sabotage missions in the U.S. Dwight R. Messimer discusses these two solutions and one man behind them: Paul Hilken, in Baltimore. A book signing follows the program. Make your free reservation.

Thursday, May 21, at 2 p.m.
William G. McGowan Theater & US National Archives YouTube Channel
Restoring the Brotherhood of Union: Confederate Pardon and Amnesty Records, 1865-1877

Archives specialist John Deeben provides a brief legislative history of amnesty activity during and after the Civil War by examining the application process and resulting records of Presidential pardons and congressional amnesty offered to former Confederates. Presentation materials are available online.

Thursday, May 21, at 7 p.m.
William G. McGowan Theater & US National Archives YouTube Channel
Boardwalk Empire: Behind the Scenes of the HBO Series

Inspired by Nelson Johnson’s New York Times best-selling book, HBO re-created the realism and texture of Prohibition-era Atlantic City in the hit series Boardwalk Empire. With video clips and behind-the-scenes stories, Terence Winter leads a discussion of the show’s creation. Panelists include Gretchen Mol, the actress who played Gillian Darmody; Edward McGinty, Jr., the actor who portrayed Ward Boss Boyd and research adviser for the show; Lesley Robson-Foster, visual effects supervisor; Nelson Johnson, author of Boardwalk Empire; and others. A book signing will follow the program. Presented in partnership with HBO. Make your free reservation.

Friday, May 22, at noon
William G. McGowan Theater
Prohibition: A Nation of Scofflaws

Episode two addresses how the enforcement of Prohibition was inconsistent and caused unintended consequences, including making criminals of a large portion of the population. (110 minutes.)

Wednesday, May 27, at noon
William G. McGowan Theater & US National Archives YouTube Channel
The Bill of Rights: The Fight to Secure America’s Liberties

Revered today for articulating America’s founding principles, the Bill of Rights was in fact a political stratagem by James Madison to preserve the Constitution, the Federal Government, and the latter’s authority over the states. Carol Berkin discusses the story of the fight over the document, the ongoing debate over the Founders’ original intent, and what it means for our country today. A book signing will follow the program. Make your free reservation.

Thursday, May 28, at noon
Building a Paper Trail: Using Archival Materials to Construct a Narrative
Room G-25, Research Center (Penn. Ave. Entrance)

Glenn C. Frankel, professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and a recipient of a Pulitzer Prize in journalism, will discuss research for his book project, “The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of High Noon.”

Thursday, May 28, at 7 p.m.
William G. McGowan Theater & US National Archives YouTube Channel
The Law of the Land: A Grand Tour of Our Constitutional Republic and Lincoln’s Constitutional Vision

Renowned legal scholar Akhil Reed Amar illustrates how geography, federalism, and regionalism have influenced some of the biggest questions in American constitutional law. While we may be united under one Constitution, separate and distinct states remain, each with its own constitution and culture. Writing about Illinois, “the land of Lincoln,” Amar shows how our 16th President’s ideas about secession were influenced by his Midwestern upbringing and outlook. Joining Professor Amar will be Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer, author of numerous books on Lincoln and the Civil War era, and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. A book signing will follow the program. Make your free reservation.

Friday, May 29, at noon
William G. McGowan Theater
Prohibition: A Nation of Hypocrites

Episode three follows the gradual swing toward repeal of Prohibition as the Great Depression focuses attention on other priorities. (104 minutes.)

Boeing Learning Center

The ReSource room is a hands-on space open to all, Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Document-based programs are available for groups in the Learning Lab. Reservations are required; contact learninglab@nara.gov or visit www.archives.gov/education/student-visits/dc.html.

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

Exhibitions

Spirited Republic: Alcohol in American History Who was the “lady hootch hunter?” What is a “drunkometer?” And why did some Americans campaign against the “spirit ration?” Find these answers and more in this fascinating collection of alcohol-related posters, films, patent drawings, petitions, photographs, and artifacts. Visit “Spirited Republic” and learn about American debates about alcohol and its place in society. Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery, Through January 10, 2016

Spirited Republic is presented in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of HISTORY®, the Lawrence F. O'Brien Family, The Tasting Panel Magazine, and Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America. Additional exhibition funding provided by the Beer Institute, the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S., the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association, and the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

Records of Rights
“Records of Rights” explores how Americans have worked to realize their nation’s ideals of freedom. The exhibit features the 1297 Magna Carta, on permanent loan from David M. Rubenstein. The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act on display in the Landmark Document case. David M. Rubenstein Gallery

1297 Magna Carta
The 1297 Magna Carta, on permanent loan from David M. Rubenstein, is featured in the “Records of Rights” exhibit. David M. Rubenstein Gallery

Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom

  • Declaration of Independence
  • Constitution
  • Bill of Rights

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?" Rotunda

The Public Vaults” invites visitors into virtual stack areas to discover historic documents, films, maps, and photographs from the National Archives. 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


Featured Documents on Display in Washington, DC

Featured Document Display: 100th Anniversary of the Sinking of the RMS Lusitania
The Lusitania sank in 18 minutes and only six of the ship’s lifeboats were successfully deployed. Nearly 1,200 passengers and crew died. A drawing of a lifeboat used in the Lusitania liability case is on display. East Rotunda Gallery, Through June 3


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!

Records of Rights
Explore records of the National Archives documenting the ongoing struggle of Americans to define, attain, and protect their rights.

Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage
Startling evidence of the once vibrant Jewish life in Iraq came to light in May 2003—over 2,700 books and tens of thousands of documents were discovered in the flooded basement of the Iraqi intelligence headquarters by a U.S. Army team.

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

You will be able to watch our archived programs on Ustream for a limited time while the landing page is still active. www.ustream.tv/usnationalarchives


Locations, Hours, and Contact Information

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

For details, see the Visitor's Guide or visit the National Archives Museum.

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 for McGowan Theater programs are not required but are recommended. Use the new online event registration system from the National Archives Foundation to reserve your seats:
1. Register at www.archivesfoundation.org/events/
2. Print your email confirmation and bring it with you.
3.To reserve by phone, call 202-357-6814. Walk-ins without reservations will be admitted, depending on available seats.

For McGowan Theater programs, use the Special Events Entrance on Constitution Avenue. The doors to the building will open 45 minutes prior to the start of the program.

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.


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. Please note that all National Archives research rooms will be closed on Monday, May 25, 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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