Genealogy in Old Photographs

Facebook reminded me yesterday morning that I went to Washington, DC six years ago — July 4, 2014 — for a Washington Nationals game and A Capitol Fourth. That trip provided me with one of my most-trafficked blog posts of the past decade on why I didn’t stand for “God Bless America” at the Nationals … Continue reading Genealogy in Old Photographs

The Grave of a 19th-Century Astronomer

Before the world went into its COVID-imposed lockdown, I discovered, quite by chance, while reading about Mary Ann Hall, that a photograph of my great-great-grandfather’s gravesite in Washington, DC’s Congressional Cemetery is on Wikipedia. No one but me would care that, in the background of the photo, is the gravesite of William Gardner, but it’s … Continue reading The Grave of a 19th-Century Astronomer

Exploring Georgetown, 1890

I saw this on Twitter Wednesday morning. It’s a photograph from the Georgetown University archives of Georgetown in 1890, looking out at the Washington Monument, taken from Georgetown’s Healy Hall. In the fall, I wrote about digging into a street map of Washington, circa 1883 and using it to find where my ancestors lived in … Continue reading Exploring Georgetown, 1890

The Most Notorious Brothel Owner in Civil War Washington

This week, I explained to several colleagues at Diamond what the desktop wallpaper on my monitor at work is, which you can see above — a painting of Washington, DC done by Edward Sachse in the early 1850s. (Be sure to check out this Maryland Historical Society article on his Bird’s Eye View of Baltimore.) … Continue reading The Most Notorious Brothel Owner in Civil War Washington

Women Playing Baseball in the 1910s

Recently while digging around on the Library of Congress website I found a series of photographs of young women playing baseball. The photos were undated; they had a range between 1909 and 1923, nothing more specific. The uniforms resembled those worn by Ida Schnall’s New York Female Giants in 1913, though without the stitched logo … Continue reading Women Playing Baseball in the 1910s

Revisiting the Washington That Never Was

You haven’t lived until you’ve digitally clipped mid-19th-century cursive from a scan of a faded and dirty print. This is B.F. Smith’s landscape of Washington, showing projected improvements in the capital city — the Washington Monument, a stone bridge across the Washington City Canal — from 1852. I found this on the Library of Congress … Continue reading Revisiting the Washington That Never Was

Revisiting Swampoodle Grounds

A week and a half ago I discovered Adolph Sachse’s “bird’s eye view” map of Washington, DC, circa 1883-1884, and I was able to find where my ancestors lived in Washington from the Civil War to the mid-1880s. There was something else I was interested in. Swampoodle Grounds. Swampoodle Grounds, also known as Capitol Park, … Continue reading Revisiting Swampoodle Grounds

Exploring an 1883 Map of Washington, DC

A few months ago, the novelist Howard Weinstein posted to Facebook a link to Adolph Sachse’s “Bird’s Eye View” map of Baltimore in 1869, and I poured over it, finding the location where my great-great-grandmother and her father lived at the time and the church where my great-grandparents might have married in 1900, as it … Continue reading Exploring an 1883 Map of Washington, DC

Touring the National Cathedral

Today I took at tour of Washington’s National Cathedral. This is something I had been wanting to do for a while, ever since they announced they were building a LEGO replica of the cathedral, and it was just a matter of finding the time. A vacation day was scheduled, a ticket for that night’s Washington … Continue reading Touring the National Cathedral

The Washington That Never Was

While looking through the Library of Congress’ website yesterday, I found this vintage 1852 image of Washington, DC, done by the same company that did the map of Baltimore of 1868. “Oh, wow,” I said. “This is cool. There’s the Smithsonian Castle, designed by James Renwick. There’s Trinity Episcopal, also designed by Renwick. There’s the … Continue reading The Washington That Never Was

A Cemetery Find, Five Years Past

Five years ago today, I visited Washington’s Congressional Cemetery for the second time. The Cubs were in Washington, the game was in late afternoon, and before the game I went to Congressional Cemetery to do some exploration and, more importantly, confirm the location of my great-great-grandfather William Gardner. My first visit had been in September … Continue reading A Cemetery Find, Five Years Past