7 Archaeological Things to See and Do in Washington D.C.

Reminder: June 30th is the last day to submit your #SHA2016 conference abstract!

Last week, we started posting about Things to Do in Washington, D.C., so that you may begin planning for your #SHA2016 trip!  This week’s blog post provides another list of various, exhibits and research centers.  Whether you wish to play tourist or conduct research, we suggest you check out our list, below!

The Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

If you are interested in learning more about the urban development of Washington D.C., a visit to the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. is a must. The Carnegie Library, located in Mt. Vernon Square, offers a variety of exhibits exploring the history of the city and the history of the city’s inhabitants.  The “Window to Washington” exhibit depicts the city’s transformation from rural landscape into a modern metropolis. Additionally, the library and collections offer ample resources for researchers to study the “city’s physical landscape as well as the families, organizations, businesses, neighborhoods, religious institutions and other communities that comprise Washington, D.C.”

Free of Charge

Check it out: http://www.dchistory.org/


Sewall-Belmont House

Just a block northeast of the U.S. Capitol is a museum dedicated to history of the fight for women’s rights. The Sewall-Belmont House museum is owned by the National Woman’s Party, and displays their extensive collection of objects that document the story of the women’s suffrage movement. The collection features thousands of books, scrapbooks, political cartoons, textiles, photographs, organizational records and other artifacts “produced by women, about women.” This offers another wonderful resource for historical archaeologists.


$8 for a Guided Tour

Check it out: http://www.sewallbelmont.org/


The Smithsonian Institution Building (The Castle)

Located on the National Mall, the beautiful mid-nineteenth century Gothic-Revival Smithsonian Institution Building now houses the Smithsonian’s administrative headquarters, but the ‘Castle’ also contains several exhibits celebrating the institution itself, funded by James Smithson. These exhibits look at the history of the Institution, and visitors can see selected objects from all of the Institution’s museums.

Free of Charge

Check it out:  http://www.si.edu/Museums/smithsonian-institution-building


Fords Theater

The fateful night of April 14th, 1865 when President Abraham Lincoln was shot at Fords Theatre, is commemorated at Ford’s Theatre Museum. Visitors may take a self-guided tour around exhibits that explore Lincoln’s presidency, up until the night of his death.  The collection features textiles, documents, and artifacts of Lincoln’s, and, at the Center for Education and Leadership, an exhibit examines the aftermath and impact of Lincoln’s assassination, on the United States.

$2.50 for a self-guided tour

Check it out: http://m.fords.org/planning-to-visit


Clara Barton Missing Soldier’s Office Museum

Only recently rediscovered, the Clara Barton Missing Soldier’s Office Museum is the former residence and office of Clara Barton during and following the Civil War. Located on 7th Street in NW, the CBMSOM offers a stark and realistic history of the aftermath of the Civil War, through the efforts of Barton to find and identify missing soldiers.

Check it out: http://www.civilwarmed.org/clara-barton-museum/


Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

Owned and operated by the National Park Service, the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site is the last home of Frederick Douglass.  Douglass lived in Cedar Hill, SE from 1878 to 1895, when he passed away.  The house museum does well to present and interpret Douglass’ impressive and impassioned political career, in our nation’s capital. The house museum offers an extensive and intriguing collection detailing Douglass’ vision, mission, and lifestyle during the latter 19th century.

Check it out: http://www.nps.gov/frdo/index.htm


Last but most certainly not least! 

Before coming to #SHA2016, be sure to take the virtual archaeology tour of Washington, D.C.!

Check it out: http://www.heritage.umd.edu/CHRSWeb/DC%20Archaeology/DC%20Archaeology%20Tour/Archaeology%20Tour.htm.


5 Archaeological Things to See and Do in Washington D.C.

Remember, the last day to submit your #SHA2016 conference abstract is June 30th, 2015. See our previous blog post with the Call for Papers: http://www.sha.org/blog/index.php/2015/05/sha2016-call-for-papers/

As we have seen in the last several posts, Washington D.C. and it’s surrounding area is a thriving place for history and archaeology. Archaeologists are doing important work engaging the public and interpreting the past of the nation’s capital. When we all travel to D.C. for #SHA2016 there are plenty of places to explore that capture the essence of this area’s heritage. Below, are five places to visit:

The National Museum of the American Indian

A new exhibit entitled “Our Universes: Traditional Knowledge Shapes Our World” opens at the Museum of the American Indian this September. What looks to be an incredible exhibit focuses on indigenous cosmologies, introducing the worldviews and cultural philosophies of eight communities all over the western hemisphere. This exhibit will run until October 2017 and along with the many other feature collections at the Museum, is a must see during our stay in Washington D.C.

Check it out: http://americanindian.si.edu/          Free of Charge

Alexandria Archaeology Museum

Located just a metro ride away, the Alexandria Archaeology Museum features exhibits highlighting their excavations of The Lee Street Site, the Green Furniture Factory, and the Ashby household. The museum also features hands-on-activities for adults and children alike, and the space also doubles as a public laboratory. You can also get information to walk the Alexandria Heritage Trail, which is a 23-mile walking and bike tour that takes you through 110 historical and archaeological sites representing the history of Alexandria.

Check it out: http://alexandriava.gov/Archaeology       Free of Charge

The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress houses millions of artifacts and archives that, as archaeologists, we know are important resources. The Museum features exhibits commemorating the history of the Library, the architecture of the Thomas Jefferson building, and its celebrated holdings, including the Gutenberg Bible. You can join a one-hour walking tour of the historic building or enjoy a self-guided tour. Definitely take time to explore the reading rooms, and even take an extra day to use the research centers to examine the Library’s archival materials for your own research.

Check it out: https://www.loc.gov/          Free of Charge


The National Geographic Museum

If you decide to make a longer trip to Washington D.C., make sure to stop by the National Geographic Museum. Ending January 3rd, the “Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology” exhibit juxtaposes real archaeological artifacts with a collection of film materials from the movie. How many of us get asked if archaeologists are like Indiana Jones, well this seems like an exhibit that explores the difference! If you can’t make this exhibit, the National Geographic Museum showcases their stunning photography from all over the world.

Check it out: http://events.nationalgeographic.com/national-geographic-museum/Ticketed

Dumbarton Oaks

Located in Georgetown, Dumbarton Oaks is a research institution with collections of Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art. The House collection showcases the historic interiors with Asian, European, and American artworks and interior furnishings donated by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss between 1940 and 1969. Docent-led tours take place every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 3:00 pm, but the Museum is open from 11:30 to 5:30 for self-guided tours.

Check it out: http://www.doaks.org/        Free of Charge

Throughout the summer we will be linking to more “archaeological” sightseeing opportunities in Washington D.C.

Publication in just…. How many easy steps?

This past January I had the pleasure of attending the annual society conference in Seattle, Washington. As usual, the conference was an amazing opportunity to learn about current research taking place in the field, network with colleagues and potential employers, as well as let loose and have a little fun at the annual dance on Friday night. In addition to this business as usual, I had the amazing opportunity to chair a panel discussion focused on publishing that was geared specifically towards students and recent graduates. With the help of Jennifer Jones, Nicole Bucchino and Mary Petrich-Guy, we were able to assemble an all-star panel of people from various universities, publishing companies and research institutions, who were able to answer all of our burning questions on the art of publishing.   

Despite taking place at 8:30am on Saturday morning, the panel discussion had an excellent turnout and the panelist were lively and eager to answer our questions. Due to our focus audience, many of our questions focused on some of the basic ins and outs of publishing. How do I get my work out there for publication? What medium of publication (journal article, edited volume, blog, etc.) is best for me? How do I cope with rejection? Fortunately in this panel discussion I was the one asking the questions and our panelists came prepared with excellent answers. While I dont have space to recap the entire panel here, I would like to share some of the major points I took home points from panel. 

First off, all panelists unanimously agreed that the act of simply writing was important. Such an elementary step may seem obvious to some, because you cant publish something that you havent written. However this all-important step is one of the most difficult steps to accomplish. One panelist suggested that devoting one hour to writing every day was a good start, while another advised that writing 1,000 words a day was an admirable goal. So step #1 to publication? Write. Simple, right? Well sure, but write what exactly? Again, panelists were in agreement on this one too; their suggestion was to write about what you know and to tailor your publication for a medium that is appropriate for your target audience. Because of this, the form a publication will take depends on the program of study, degree, career path and the goal of the publication. So, how to choose? Journal article? Single author or co-author? Chapter in an edited volume? Article in a newsletter? Blog? Fortunately, I have some very good news for you here. Our panelists were all in agreement that there is no such thing as a bad publication. I thought this was particularly interesting given that some of the newly emerging electronic and open access publication mediums (like Academia, for example) make publication a little easier perhaps, or at least more accessible to students than some of the more traditional publication mediums. However, after a lengthy discussion of the issue the panelists were still in agreement and all of the aforementioned mediums were given the thumbs-up for pursuit. 

Moderating this panel discussion was a truly enjoyable experience and would like to thank Charles Ewen, Annalies Corbin, Teresa Krauss, Carol McDavid and Doug Rocks-Macqueen for graciously participating in our panel. We are currently putting together our topic for next years panel, so please stay tuned!