National Building Museum

1968: Shaping the District

Saturday, January 6, 2018
11:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Connect with a variety of organizations to explore D.C. as it was in 1968: a predominantly African American city enduring a complex time of grassroots organizing, groundbreaking initiatives, creative expression, racism, protests, and activism. Hear historian Dr. Marya McQuirter and others talk about the people, places, and stories of the time. Listen to music evocative of the year, performed by musicians from the National Symphony Orchestra. Engage in conversations and share your own stories. Gain a broader picture of 1968 beyond the uprisings after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. This collaborative event launches a year of programming and exhibitions throughout the city marking the 50th anniversary of this historic year.

Ongoing Activities

West Court

Mapping Stories
Map the events of 1968 through photographs and first-hand accounts with the Washington Architectural Foundation and the DC Public Library’s Special Collections.

Organizing History
Get an up close look at community organizing posters, maps, and similar items from the year with the Historical Society of Washington D.C. and National Building Museum curator Sarah Leavitt.



1:30–2:15 pm
To Better Serve our Citizens: The National Park Service's Summer in the Parks – Noel López 
Find out how the National Park Service reinvented engagement with D.C. communities in and how the eight year Summer in the Parks program lives on in current programs like the Fort Dupont and Fort Reno summer concert series and Fiesta DC. National Park Service Cultural Anthropologist Noel López shows a short film and shares the program’s history and legacy.


12:30–2 pm
Walking Tour of Jewish Downtown Washington
Meet at 1968: Shaping the District Welcome Table

For nearly a century, Jews lived, worked, and worshipped in the neighborhood around 7th Street, NW. This one-mile walking tour includes the 1876 historic Adas Israel synagogue -- a building which has moved twice in its 140 year history and is scheduled to move again next year -- and the sites of three former synagogues.  Led by Samantha Abramson of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington, this tour will answer questions such as:

Why are there three former synagogues in Chinatown? 
What was the impact of events of 1968 on the Jewish community?

Limited to 25 people. Sign up on site at Welcome Table, beginning at 11 am.  Rain or shine.

Performances and Workshops

2–3 pm
Personal Archiving Workshop 
Classroom 231, 2nd floor
Are you interested in preserving family treasures? DC Public Library archivists lead a workshop on preserving physical and digital personal archives, including photos, letters, newspapers and other materials. 

Limited to 25 people. Sign up on site at Welcome Table.  

Free, drop in. All ages encouraged. 

This event does not require an RSVP. Registered users can request event reminders.