The Queen City: Poetry, Patriots, & Family Separation

Charlotte, North Carolina. The Queen City.

A major emerging immigrant center. One of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. A minority majority city. A city with a rapidly growing Latino community. It is one of the cities that will be highlighted in an upcoming exhibition, Gateways.

North Carolina led the nation in Latino population growth in the 1990s with a nearly 400% increase in its Latino population. Initial Latino immigrants and migrants were largely working class but those numbers have since shifted to include more professionals as the population of Latinos continues to grow.

A Family enjoying the annual Hola Charlotte Festival in uptown Charlotte, NC Photo by Susana Raab Anacostia Community Museum Smithsonian Institution

A Family enjoying the annual Hola Charlotte Festival in uptown Charlotte, NC
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

To help the city deal with rapidly shifting demographics, the city of Charlotte created an Immigrant Integration Task Force in 2013. This group, appointed by the city, explores ways to make Charlotte more immigrant friendly and integrative. Though the task force and national news reports focus on the entrepreneurial integration of immigrants and economic impact, Gateways will begin conversations of community integration at more basic levels.

Housing. Education. Safety. Family.

Family units have been separated by policies such as Secure Streets and Secure Communities that provide overlapping authority between local law enforcement and federal immigration agencies. Between 2009 and 2016 more than 2.5 million people were deported. Earlier in 2016, raids by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) focused on Georgia, North Carolina and Texas.

What does this look like? What does this mean? How do we stop seeing policy and instead focus on people?

Words are powerful emotive tools.
In celebration of April as National Poetry Month, I share this work by Gateways collaborator Herrison Chicas, a UNC graduate who spoke at TedX Charlotte in 2014

 

Gateways, opening in December 2016, explores the triumphs and struggles of Latino migrants and immigrants in four urban destinations: Washington, D.C., Baltimore, MD, Raleigh-Durham, NC and Charlotte, NC.

Emancipation Monument Dedication

On this day in 1876,  the Emancipation Monument also know as the Freedmen’s Memorial Monument is dedicated in Washington D.C.’s Lincoln Park.  Frederick Douglass (circa 1818-1895) and John Mercer Langston (1825- 1897 ) speak at the inaugural ceremonies; President Ulysses S. Grant and other officials of the federal government also attend. Newspapers report that “nearly all of colored organizations in the city took part” in the procession, which started in the vicinity of 7th and K streets.

 

Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution

Freedmen’s Memorial Monument program booklet, April 14, 1876 Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution

It’s Opening Season!

ACMA_2011_7006_31

Eddie Berry, Eddie Brooks, and [Art} Bevelry, 1936. Norman Davis Photograph Collection, gift of Norman B. Davis.

Major League Baseball season began yesterday April 3, 2016. To mark opening season we would like to highlight the Norman Davis Photograph Collection. The above image of Anacostia ACs (athletic club) baseball players is contained in the Norman Davis Photograph collection and is among several photographs in the collection which document community and organized baseball teams in the District of Columbia, in particular, the Anacostia section of the city from 1930s to 1950s. The collection contains images of Edward (Eddie) Berry, who played for the Anacostia ACs, Washington Aztecs, and the Hilldales [Hillsdale] teams. The collection provides us with a glimpse into Washington, D.C.’s unique baseball history that goes back more than 150 years. Long before the Nationals brought professional baseball back to the city in 2005, baseball played out in District schoolyards and alleyways, as well as on the White House lawn. Washington, D.C., was home to the Senators, known for being “first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League.” In the mid-1900s Josh Gibson and the Homestead Grays also played on the Senators’ home field at Griffith Stadium, winning eight of nine Negro National League (NNL) pennants at one point.

Baseball really boomed in Washington following the Civil War, when thousands of men returned to the area from the battlefield and traded their rifles and canteens for bats and baseballs. Over the years Washington, D.C., has had black teams and white teams; professional teams and amateur teams; neighborhood teams and city-wide teams. Baseball has long been a part of Washington, D.C.’s social fabric— a sometimes unifying factor in a city struggling not only with its local/federal government identity but also with long-standing segregationist tendencies.
Based on research for Separate and Unequaled: Black Baseball in the District of Columbia exhibition.

This entry originally posted on the Smithsonian Collections Search Center blog on April 02, 2012.

Women’s History Month spotlight: Wilhelmina Bessie Patterson, 1888-1962

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we will feature women from our various archival collections throughout the month who have contributed to the field of education locally and/or nationally.

We start with Wilhelmina Bessie Patterson, a woman described in a July 1946 article in The Pittsburgh Courier as “. . . one of our Nation’s most praiseworthy women” due to her work and contribution to music education.

ACM_06_074.1

Wilhelmina Patterson at the piano, undated. Dale/Patterson Family collection, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Dianne Dale.

Born on June 23, 1888, in Calvert, Texas to William Ross Patterson and Mamie Brooks Patterson, she along with her five siblings were orphaned by the time she was fifteen years old. Her parents died approximately a year apart in Washington, DC. The family had settled in the Anacostia area some years earlier when Mr. Patterson received a government position.

Educated in the District of Columbia school system, Wilhelmina graduated from Old M Street High School, known now as Paul Laurence Dunbar High School; the Washington Conservatory of Music and Miner Normal School. After receiving a recommendation from Mary Church Terrell, she obtained a teaching position in Gainesville, Texas. Taking her youngest sibling, Fred with her to Texas, she provided for his education with her salary from various teaching jobs. Fred would benefit from her guidance and support for he would become the third President of Tuskegee Institute, now University and a founder of the United Negro College Fund. Speaking of her brother, Ms. Patterson once stated, “people used to speak of him as my brother; now they refer to me as ‘Dr. Patterson’s sister”. She goes on to say, “we are all very proud of Fred and the excellent work he has done.”

Wilhelmina also did excellent work in her career as a music teacher. She served as head of the Music Department at Prairie View State College; taught music for twelve years at Hampton Institute, now University and directed their Women’s Glee Club. She received a scholarship to study at Oberlin Conservatory of Music and later earned a Bachelor’s Degree of Music from the University of Pennsylvania.

ACM_06_074.4

Wilhelmina presenting Mme. Lillian Evanti at Shiloh Baptist Church, undated. Dale/Patterson Family collection, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Dianne Dale.

Ms. Patterson moved back to Washington, DC in 1934 and began to manage the music program at Shiloh Baptist Church. She also maintained a studio at the church and at her home in Anacostia given to her by her brother Fred. Wilhelmina was interested in making her home music center “a place where my musical friends, young and old, may gather in an ideal environment.” During her long career she also served as a D.C. Recreation Department music specialists at the Burrville Center overseeing the instruction and training of children desiring to play instruments.

ACM_06_074.6

Burrville Recreation program booklet, 1945. Dale/Patterson Family collection, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Dianne Dale.

On October 1, 1962, Ms. Patterson retired as director of the Shiloh Baptist Church after 28 years of service. She died on November 9, 1962. Students and congregation members who knew Ms. Patterson still remember her dedication to teaching music. Ms. Patterson believe there wasn’t any greater “joy in life than in training children and seeing their talents develop as much as possible.”

ACM_06_074.3

Portrait of Wilhelmina Patterson, circa 1950s. Dale/Patterson Family collection, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution. Gift of Dianne Dale.

Resources
Dale, Dianne. The Village That Shaped Us: A Look at Washington DC’s Anacostia Community (Lanham, MD: Dale Publishing, 2011)

Smith, Violet Key. “Interesting D.C. Women,” The Pittsburgh Courier, July 1946

Dale/Patterson Family Collection

A special thank you to Judy C. Williams, Historian at Shiloh Baptist Church for providing a copy of Ms. Patterson’s funeral program.

Charles E. Qualls: Pharmacist, Businessman, and Civic Leader

The Charles E. Qualls papers in The Anacostia Community Museum Archives document the professional and civic efforts of Dr. Qualls in Washington, D.C.   The records date primarily from 1960 – 1983 and highlight Qualls community involvement and pharmacy business.

Qualls005

The Anacostia Pharmacy, circa 1950s. Charles E. Qualls papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, gift of the Estate of Charles E. Qualls.

Charles E. Qualls (1912- 1984) opened the Anacostia Pharmacy in 1941. He was a graduate of Howard University‘s School of Pharmacy, was active in the National Pharmaceutical Association (NPA), and was deeply committed to his local community. In fact, his Anacostia Pharmacy, located on Nichols Avenue – later renamed Martin Luther King Avenue – became a gathering place for the community. Young people socialized at the soda fountain while older people planned for the future of Anacostia. It was from these gatherings that the vision for a community business organization was developed and eventually brought to fruition in 1949 with the establishment of Anacostia Business and Professional Association (ABPA).

Qualls004

Interior of the Anacostia Pharmacy, circa 1941. Charles E. Qualls papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, gift of the Estate of Charles E. Qualls.

Mr. Qualls was also a founding member of the Anacostia Historical Society whose mission was to preserve and promote the history and culture of Anacostia. Qualls’ interest in preserving history led to his involvement with lobbying the federal government to establish Cedar Hill, the Frederick Douglass home, as a National Park Service historic site.

Throughout his career Dr. Qualls received numerous awards in honor of his business and civic endeavors in the District of Columbia. In 1967 he was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation by President Lyndon B. Johnson in recognition of his five years as an uncompensated member of the Selective Service System.

Qualls007

Dr. Qualls helped raise funds for the Mills family who lost their home in a fire. He is pictured here receiving a check for the benefit of the Mills family from Les Sands, a radio station announcer whose station raised the funds. Circa 1948. Charles E. Qualls papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, gift of the Estate of Charles E. Qualls.

Charles E. Qualls died on June 21, 1984.

View the Finding Aid to the Charles E. Qualls Papers, 1899-1996, bulk 1960-1983 here!

View artifacts from Mr. Qualls collection here!

The Taliaferros of Stanton Road SE

For over 130 years, a formidable farmhouse stood at the corner of Stanton Road SE and Suitland Parkway, watching the comings and goings of countless people inside and out before being abandoned at the end of the last decade. When an application for a raze permit came across the desks of officials in the DC Historic Preservation Office (HPO), they realized that it was one of the last standing structures associated with the historic Barry Farm subdivision, settled after the Civil War by formerly enslaved individuals under the aegis of the Freedmen’s Bureau.

I first became aware of the property and its history while working as a volunteer in the office, and was invited to take on initial research and cataloging of a collection of objects pulled from the house’s attic. A team from the HPO presented the collection to the Anacostia Community Museum, which recognized its significance and agreed that further research should be done. To that end, the Museum applied for and was awarded a DC Community Heritage Project Grant, and I was brought on to continue work on the collection. During my time at the Museum, I worked with Collections Manager Josh Gorman to research and catalog the items in the collection, in the process helping tell a story that otherwise would have been lost to the effects of development.

Your writer, getting her hands dirty!

Your writer, getting her hands dirty!

As an archaeologist by training, I’ve occasionally come across interesting finds down in the dirt, but I don’t always see the rest of an artifact’s “life cycle.” Once an artifact is removed from its original context, it’s generally shunted off to a lab for cleaning, analysis, and storage, which are often done by someone other than the original finder. Over the course of the Stanton Road project, I had the opportunity to carry out some of the steps that I don’t usually get to be a part of.

The Stanton Road collection isn’t archaeological, but archaeological artifacts and the objects from the attic of Stanton Road are both examples of material culture. Material culture is any tangible evidence of how people led their lives, whether in the past or present. In this case, the lives in question are those of of Annie and Olivia Taliaferro, a mother and daughter who lived in the Stanton Road house for more than six decades.

The Taliaferros were an African American family who moved to the Hillsdale (now Barry Farm) community in the latter part of the the 19th century. Based on U.S. Census records, we know that Annie and her children were all born in Virginia, and can guess from Annie’s age that she was likely born into slavery (she was born in 1852 or 1853). D.C. property records show that Annie herself purchased the Stanton Road property in 1885. She lived in the house until her death in 1935, as did her daughter Olivia until her death in 1947. The Stanton Road collection is a glimpse into the lives of two women who made comfortable lives for themselves and were deeply connected to their community.

A clipping from the digitized 1900 U.S. Census showing Annie Taliaferro and her four children

A clipping from the digitized 1900 U.S. Census showing Annie Taliaferro and her four children

Working at the Anacostia Community Museum allowed me to have experiences that any budding material culture researcher would dream of. Being allowed into the collections area of a Smithsonian museum, for example, is almost a holy experience. You feel like you should hold your breath and say a little prayer as you walk through the heavy doors into the rows of cabinets and crates, lest you disturb the collections in their slumber. It was exciting for me to think that some of the objects I would be researching would have a home there.

As a lifelong book nerd and former library worker, my favorite perk of working for the Smithsonian was access to the library system. I took advantage of it to visit an obscure but fascinating collection: the Trade Literature Collection at the National Museum of American History. The term “trade literature” refers to publications that describe or promote products for sale – catalogs, technical manuals, and advertising brochures, to name just a few examples. These can be invaluable resources for information such prices, fashion trends, and marketing techniques.

Here, we have a coffee grinder taken from the Stanton Road attic...

Here, we have a coffee grinder taken from the Stanton Road attic…

I was hoping to find some of the items in my collection, or at least comparable examples, in turn-of-the-century Montgomery Ward and Sears, Roebuck & Company catalogs. These two mail order companies reached consumers in every corner of the United States and sold everything you could ever hope to buy, from the tiniest pins and needles all the way up to farming equipment and entire houses. If anything was going to give me a decent snapshot of common material culture during the early 20th century, it would be these catalogs.

... and a similar item being sold in the 1908 Sears catalog. Can you get anything for 44¢ nowadays?

… and a similar item being sold in the 1908 Sears catalog. Can you get anything for 44¢ nowadays?

While I didn’t find exact matches, looking at the catalogs did help me get an idea of what some of the items would of cost, and place the Taliaferros in a solidly middle-class socioeconomic stratum. It also affirmed my belief that Annie and Olivia tended to “shop local,” preferring to purchase from local businesses rather than from mail-order catalogs (this may also have had something to do with living in a city, where goods were more readily accessible).

2016.6001.0022 (2)

This bottle has not only the name of a pharmacy, but a date, dosage instructions, and a prescribing doctor’s name as well.

A number of the bottles we took from the attic were marked with names and addresses that indicated they had been purchased locally – Bury’s Pharmacy at 300 Monroe Street in Anacostia, or Mackall Brothers Druggists at the corner of 9th and H Streets NE, to name a couple. I used these names and addresses to sift through D.C. city directories on microfilm in the Washingtonia archives at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, and emerged with not only solid dates of operation for these businesses, but also a sense that the Taliaferros were quite mobile, travelling to all four quadrants of the city to make purchases.

Lest you think that my work was all diving into archives and drawing thrilling conclusions, I’ll point out that other parts of my work were more mundane. Writing tags for the objects and entering data (dates, dimensions, and descriptions) into the collection management software are less glamorous tasks, but they’re equally as important as the research. Without these steps, collections staff wouldn’t be able to track the location of the objects or have any knowledge of their contexts. And without that, the research wouldn’t have much point!

Getting a crash course in curation and registration has helped me think more profoundly about the lives of objects in museum collections, and appreciate a small piece of all the work that goes unseen when you walk into a museum exhibit. Now that the collection has been cataloged, I hope that it can continue to provide insight into the lives of Annie and Olivia, and other African American families living in Barry Farm and Washington, DC. In particular, we know that Olivia was a midwife, and I think looking into how the collection reflects her work would be a very rich line of pursuit indeed. I hope that the story of Annie and Olivia and the Stanton Road collection will continue to inspire curiosity and appreciation in those who hear it, and help make residents of Washington and the Barry Farm area proud to call those places home.

The Art of Words by Sergio Gonzalez 2015 Latino Museum Studies Program Fellow

This summer I was honored to host Sergio as my summer fellow. He was exceptionally organized, curious, and thoughtful. I am excited to witness his future accomplishments. Below is a small sample of what he worked on and worked through during his weeks as a Smithsonian Latino Museum Studies Program Fellow at the Anacostia Community Museum. – Ariana Curtis, curator

By Sergio M. González/ Summer 2015

This summer, my charge as a fellow with the Smithsonian’s Latino Museum Studies Program (LMSP) has been to assist in increasing the representation, documentation, and research of Latino art, culture, and history throughout the museum’s many units. My field placement at the Anacostia Community Museum (ACM) has offered me the opportunity to work in a museum in the process of redefining its own mission, as it expands its purview to include the representation of Latino communities. Working with Ariana Curtis, ACM’s first curator of Latino Studies, I’ve spent most of my practicum experience surveying the museum’s permanent collections in search of ties to Latin America and Latino communities specifically, but immigration more broadly.

Through my survey of the ACM’s collections, I came across a Cuban refugee boat, an artifact whose publicly accessible provenance is unclear.

Cuban refugee boat as displayed in the exhibition Black Mosaic: Race, Color and Ethnicity Among Black Immigrants in Washington, DC.  Smithsonian Institution, Anacostia Community Museum Collections

Cuban refugee boat as displayed in the exhibition Black Mosaic: Race, Color and Ethnicity Among Black Immigrants in Washington, DC

I decided to commit some of my practicum experience to researching the object and rewriting the description, as it seemed to meet the criteria of being “current, compelling, and connected,” three C’s that help guide ACM’s mission.

I began researching and writing a new description to accompany the image of the boat on the Smithsonian’s website. I asked myself how, as a historian, I might convey the significance of this object and place it within a broader historical context. How, as a storyteller, might I engage my audience with vivid descriptions of the hazards that Cuban migrants confront on their ninety-mile voyage between Cuban and Floridian shores? My initial instincts for writing the description relied upon the writing of museum educator Larry Borowsky, who asks curators to pose three questions as they craft a narrative arc in their writing for museumgoers:

  • Does it create an air of suspense and/or tension?
  • Does it trace a journey through time and/or distance?
  • Does it encourage the reader to suspend disbelief?

In my first attempts to write what I considered to be an “effective” description, I hewed closely to my disciplinary training as a historian, and soon found myself writing more of a narrative than a collections description. My first draft of the collection description read more like an exhibition label than an object description that might accompany the boat in a collections search. The need for brevity within a collection description was a new concept for me – my dissertation-writing style would need to be scaled back. I wanted to include multiple political perspectives since this object interacts with contemporary political events. However, that muddied the delivery of pertinent historical facts that would place the boat in research context.

After meeting with Ariana and discussing the differences between a collections description and a museum tag, I decided to split the labor in half. First, I rewrote the description, focusing on conveying a clearer curatorial voice and sticking closer to the most important facts:

Some Cuban emigrants construct vessels like the one seen here from miscellaneous materials including discarded wood, sets of tires, and even converted taxis and trucks to travel the 90 miles from Cuba to the U.S. Known as balseros, rafters, or boatpeople, the largest single group of 125,000 Cubans departed from the port of Mariel to the U.S. in 1980. Between 1959 (Cuban Revolution) and the Mariel boatlift of 1980, 500,000 Cuban immigrants entered the United States.

Cubans have unique immigration laws, including the Cuban Adjustment Act. The 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act granted permanent resident status to any Cuban that had immigrated to the U.S. after January 1, 1959 and had lived in the U.S. for at least two years (reduced to one year in 1976). The 1995 revision of the Cuban Adjustment Act, popularly known as the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, allows Cuban migrants that reach U.S. land to stay, whereas those apprehended at sea are returned to Cuba.

According to their public website, the Miami-based non-profit organization Hermanos al Rescate (Brothers to the Rescue), founded in 1991, has rescued more than 4,200 Cuban refugees attempting to enter U.S.

Next, I turned to writing a museum tag under one hundred words that might accompany the Cuban refugee boat in an exhibit. I’ve imagined the boat as a part of a larger exhibit detailing Cuban immigration experiences to the United States in the twentieth century. As part of a full exhibit, much of the corroborating information not necessarily tied to this specific boat in the collections description above will be include in museum tags that would accompany other artifacts or images.

Between 1959 and 1994, more than 70,000 Cuban citizens fled their country for the United States in balsas (rafts) like the one seen here. Facing the 90 miles of treacherous water that separate Cuba and the Florida coast, balseros (rafters) constructed makeshift boats and homemade rafts out a number of materials, including scrap pieces of wood, discarded tires, and even converted taxis.

Sergio M. González is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a 2015 Smithsonian Latino Museum Studies Program Fellow.

 

Sergio Gonzalez poses at the Anacostia Community Museum at the completion of his fellowship

Sergio Gonzalez poses at the Anacostia Community Museum at the completion of his fellowship

June is Caribbean-American Heritage Month!

 

Caribbean Americans, like all immigrant groups, have made profound contributions to the U.S. The diversity of Caribbean people is seen through language, religion, race, and traditions. The Anacostia Community Museum collection includes works done in and about the Caribbean as well as work from and about notable Caribbean Americans.

It is this same diversity that has drawn many artists and scholars from the U.S. To the Caribbean. Our collection includes prints from my fellow Duke alum, U.S. born  Titus Brooks Heagins, who documented people of color throughout the world including the Carolinas, Belize, and with extensive work in the Caribbean nations of Cuba and Haiti.

This drawing, “Untitled,” is from famous Harlem Renaissance artist Ernest Crichlow (1914-2005).

Untitled by Ernest Crichlow charcoal, cardboard

Untitled by Ernest Crichlow
drawing: charcoal, cardboard , Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum Collection

 

Although often referred to as an African-American artist, Crichlow is a Brooklyn born child of Bajan immigrants. That is not to say ‘African-American’ is an inaccurate identifier for him or his work; it is simply incomplete.

A strength of the Anacostia Community Museum’s collection is making international and national connections to everyday life in the D.C. area community. A perhaps lesser known but no less remarkable person in the ACM collection is Jamaican born Percival Bryant.

Bryant left Jamaica at the age of 18. He went first to New York, then, after 5 years, moved to Washington, D.C. where he settled east of the River in NE DC. He lived in DC until his death on January 27, 1996, just two days after his 90th birthday. Finding Aid for Pervical Bryant Collection

Percival Bryant poses with golf clubs in 1948. Percival Bryant Collection, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum Archives

Percival Bryant poses with golf clubs in 1948. Percival Bryant Collection, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum Archives

Percival Bryant holding a baby, circa 1951. Percival Bryant Collection, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum Archives

Percival Bryant holding a baby, circa 1951. Percival Bryant Collection, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum Archives

 

One of his first jobs in D.C. was as a driver for Attorney General Homer Cummings. Of the many jewels in this collection, his autograph book from his time as a taxi-cab driver holds over 160,000 signatures from his passengers!

Percival Bryan Autograph Albums, 1941 - 1993, Percival Bryant Collection, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum Archives

Percival Bryant Autograph Albums, 1941 – 1993, Percival Bryant Collection, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum Archives

 

Happy Caribbean-American Heritage Month from the Anacostia Community Museum!

CAHMLogo2009

About Caribbean-American Heritage Month from: http://www.caribbeanamericanmonth.org

In June 2005, the House of Representatives unanimously adopted H. Con. Res. 71, sponsored by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, recognizing the significance of Caribbean people and their descendants in the history and culture of the United States. On February 14, 2006, the resolution similarly passed the Senate, culminating a two-year, bipartisan and bicameral effort.

Since the declaration, the White House has issued an annual proclamation recognizing June as Caribbean-American Heritage Month…

Inside a Barry Farm home with ACM Research & Collections Department

The life of a museum professional can be varied.  One day might call for researching and writing an academic paper for a professional conference, and the next might see the same person excavating a demolished building site in search of historical artifacts.  Such was the case one Spring morning in Anacostia, when Anacostia Community Museum Collections Manager Josh Gorman  and myself met representatives from the DC Historical office at a local home near the intersection of Stanton Road and Suitland Parkway in the area that was once part of a greater neighborhood known as Barry Farm.

As curator Alcione Amos points out in a previous post, Barry Farm is a neighborhood in Southeast Washington, DC which distinguished itself as a significant post-Civil-War settlement of free Blacks.  The abandoned home we investigated has been bought by a developer and is scheduled to be razed and replaced with a multi-family home.

The home scheduled to be demolished on Stanton Road SE is thought to be from the phase 2 of Barry Farm development.

The home scheduled to be demolished on Stanton Road SE is thought to be from the phase 2 of Barry Farm development. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

Barry Farm was initially a large homestead, stretching all the way to 13th Street on the east, Poplar Point on the West, and the present-day Morris Road SE on the north. Railroad tracks laid around 1913 cut off Barry Farm from the Poplar Point area. Reportedly most devastating to the original community, during World War II the city built the Suitland Parkway, bifurcating and isolating the neighborhood between busy traffic arteries while connecting Andrews and Bolling Air Force bases.

Today, most people familiar with Barry Farm and SE Washington think of the public housing complex built in 1943 which is also scheduled to be razed and redeveloped.  The Smithsonian Institution has a significant connection with Barry Farm.  Solomon G. Brown was the first African American employee at the Smithsonian Institution, serving for fifty-four years from 1852 to 1906 and was a resident of the Barry Farm community. His name was given to the local Salvation Army Community Center, the Solomon G. Brown Corps Community Center on Martin Luther King Ave in SE.

- An archaeological excavation of a trash pit found at 3038 Stanton Road SE which is being razed for a multi-family development. The home is thought to be a phase 2 Barry Farm home. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

– An archaeological excavation of a trash pit found at 3038 Stanton Road SE which is being razed for a multi-family development. The home is thought to be a phase 2 Barry Farm home.
Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

This particular Stanton Road home is not thought to be one of the original post-Civil-War dwellings, but a later second phase development.  The DC government is excavating a trash-pit found on the site for valuable historical artifacts.  Inside the house, squatters and neglect had taken over the abandoned site.  Broken antiques mingled with discarded refuse and books. Graffiti on the wall offered a fractured a portrait of former residents.

stantonroadhome-17

A later addition of cinderblock added to the original footprint of the home. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

stantonroadhome-11

The dining room in Stanton Road. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

The kitchen in Stanton Road. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

stantonroadhome-10

Most likely the original fireplace mantel remained in the home. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

Graffiti left behind offers enigmatic clues about the former residents.  Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

Graffiti left behind offers enigmatic clues about the former residents. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

We at the Anacostia Community Museum do not fear dirt and grime in the pursuit of cultural heritage work:

stantonroadhome-22

Collections Manager Josh Gorman examines the attic of the Barry Farm home on Stanton Road, which was rumored to be the former home of a bootlegger during prohibition. In the attic, numerous bottles were found. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

As I mention in the caption above, the home was rumored to be occupied by a bootlegger during prohibition. Among the more interesting artifacts found were many period bottles in the attic (pictured below).

Bottles found in the attic. by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

Bottles found in the attic. by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

stantonroadhome-58

Collections Manager Josh Gorman examines some of the period artifacts in the Barry Farm Stanton Road Home. Photo by Susana Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/Smithsonian Institution

Serving the local community and beyond through the preservation of cultural history and artifacts, public programming, research and education is a great aspect of working for the Anacostia Community Museum.

To listen to an interview with a contemporary Barry Farm resident, please click to hear Carolyn Richardson on the CDI blog here.

A Fallen Hero-Fire Fighter Lt. Kevin McRae

excerpt from ‘How the Civil War Changed Washington, D.C.’

“On May 19, 1864, the city decided to establish a paid Fire Department, which was organized on July 1, 1864. Only four companies were paid at first, with a chief engineer and five commissioners appointed for the new organization dubbed the Washington City Fire Department. This was effectively the beginning of professional fire fighting in Washington, D.C.”

Just over 150 years later, the District buried it’s 100th fire fighter who died while in the line of duty. Lieutenant Kevin Andre McRae was laid to rest after a large public ceremony honoring his service to District. He suffered a heart attack while fighting a two-alarm in an apartment building in NW DC on May 6th.

Lt. McRae joined the long line of fire fighters nearly 25 years ago. He left behind a wife, three sons and a daughter. He was 44 years old.

His public viewing was held at the Armory in Northeast, D.C. It was likely one of the few places that would hold the hundreds attendees would came to pay their respects to this man. Many were fire fighters from companies, not only from the District, but from all over the country. Congresswoman Norton, Mayor Bowser, Chairman Mendelson all spoke at his service. He was laid to rest at Lincoln Cemetery. Witnesses said the procession was the longest they had ever seen.

That seems fitting for a  fallen city hero.

Rest in Peace Lieutenant McRae

Mourners Entering the Services

Mourners Entering the Services

 

ire Company Waiting to Enter the Services

ire Company Waiting to Enter the Services

 

Lt. McRae's Company Fire Engine

Lt. McRae’s Company Fire Engine

 

Inside the Program

Inside the Program

 

Memorial Services Program

Memorial Services Program

 

Exterior of the Armory

Exterior of the Armory

 

The services

The services

 

Lt McRae Fire truck

 

© 2014 Anacostia Community Documentation Initiative | ACM Home| SI Home | Contact | Help | Privacy | Terms of Use | Contact the Web Master