For our first #Transcribe Tuesdays, help us discover more about the early graduates of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Washington, DC. Known as the M Street High School from 1891 to 1916, the school quickly became the most highly rated secondary school for blacks in the country.
A page from Ella B. Howard Pearis’ 1923 Dunbar High School autograph book. Ella B. Pearis Papers, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
This 1923 Dunbar autograph book belonged to Ella B. Howard Pearis (1905-1998). Mrs. Pearis was a fourth generation resident of Anacostia, Washington, DC. She came from a family of community activists and carried on that tradition through her work for organizations such as the Anacostia Historical Society and the Anacostia—Congress Heights Red Cross Service.
Transcribe the Paul Lauence Dunbar High School Autograph book, here!
Posted by Jennifer Morris
It is a word we use often. It is in our museum name: Anacostia Community Museum. So how does this new exhibit tie into what we do here in Anacostia? Bridging the Americas: Community and Belonging from Panama to Washington, D.C. presents stories from diverse DC area residents — many of Panamanian descent, some from the Panama Canal Zone — and asks you directly to think about your community and where you feel you belong.
Despite its small population, Panama had the largest percentage and number of Central American immigrants to the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s. During this time, the Panamanian community in the Washington, D.C., area began to flourish. International work, federal employment, and the plethora of cultural activities are major reasons why Panamanians continue to make the D.C. metro “home.” Image courtesy of Winston “Alex” Taylor
One of the truest lines in the exhibition, in my humble curatorial opinion, is: “emotional connection is much more important than a legal one. Anyone who feels they belong probably does.” The underlying themes of this show are human diversity and connections. The spaces in which we reside are multiple… and connected!
The show holds a lot of information. When you walk through the exhibition, you are hearing DC stories. But they are also national stories and international stories. It is up indefinitely and I very much look forward to elaborating on themes, events, and stories through our public programming.
So what do we want people to take away from this exhibition?
- Acknowledgement that people carry multiple identities always
- Appreciation for diversity in Panama, the U.S. , and the DC metro area.
- Understanding of important events that have created a profound relationship between the nations of Panama and the U.S.
- Awareness of the Panama Canal Zone and the complexity of place based “Zonian” identity
- Recognition that the Panamanian population in the D.C. area has a strong history and presence
- Thoughtfulness about their own communities and reflective responses to the exhibition’s reflection questions on our public response wall.
Posted by Ariana Curtis
One proud respondent on our community wall!