This week’s photo is a composite of two.
The one on the left was taken in 1979 (source, Library of Congress @LibraryCongress), the one on the right, taken in 2017 (by me), of the Carter G Woodson National Historic Site (@WoodsonNHS), in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, DC, USA (of course).
“Significance: The house at No. 1538 Ninth Street NW was the home, office, and workplace of Carter Godwin Woodson (1875-1950)—the “Father of Black History”—for nearly three decades during the most significant years of his life as a pioneering historian of African-American social and cultural history.”Library of Congress
The story of the house parallels the story of Washington, DC
As written in 2001:
Thank God Carter G. Woodson isn’t alive to see how little has been done to preserve African American history in Washington. It would break his heart.Padro, A. M. (2001, Feb 18). Let’s save our black history landmarks. The Washington Post (1974-Current File)
The father of black history and creator of what is now Black History Month worked and lived in this home from 1922 until he died in 1950, and even then a request to honor him was published in the Washington Post:
Thanks for your April 6 editorial on Charles R. Drew. May I suggest that it be followed by an editorial on Carter G. Woodson? It has been my privilege to close the eyes of two great Americans, Ernest E. Just and Carter G. Woodson. In his quiet way, Carter Woodson may have been the most important Negro of his generation.Callis, H. A. (1950, Apr 08). Carter G. woodson. The Washington Post (1923-1954)
During the decade when Washington, DC lost hope, so was this landmark abandoned
A leaky roof has turned parts of the hardwood floors spongy, knocked huge chunks of plaster off the walls and caused the vintage house to tilt to one side. The Washington home of Carter G. Woodson, founder of the black history movement in the early 1900s, is falling down.LINDA WHEELER Washington Post,Staff Writer. (2001, Jun 25). Home of black history movement imperiled in D.C. The Washington Post (1974-Current File)
The historic photos were taken in two different periods, just two photographs in 1979, and then a more complete set in 2012, when renovations were about to begin, and DC as a city was back on its feet).
I went to the Library of Congress to see the photos myself – another great connection made after this year’s DC History conference. The Historic American Buildings Survey is a national treasure.
What a Leader Looks Like
From this 1932 story, you can see the pattern of a leader:
The seventh celebration of National Negro History Week has been announced by Dr. Carter Woodson, head of the Association for Study of Negro Life and History, with headquarters at 1538 Ninth street northwest, to begin February 7. Cooperation with the association has been assured by education departments of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana, West Virginia, Illinois, Delaware and MarylandNegro history fete will begin on feb. 7. (1932, Jan 17). The Washington Post (1923-1954)
…which is like several people I know today in Washington, DC, who do something for the first, second, third, fourth, seventh, tenth time, because they need to be done, and the world thanks them later.
After 16 years, the Woodson National Historic Site is now open & I got to go inside on a public tour. It gives a glimpse of what it’s like to get up every morning and do something that a lot of people don’t want you to. That happens a lot in Washington, DC, it’s what we came here for 🙂 .
This is the view from Woodson’s office in 2017, which is in many ways unchanged from 1950:
Noting a few changes, reflecting the fact that Washington, DC is felt by many to be the most inclusive city in the world.
- The rainbow flag at the establishment next door in the photo above.
Additional photos below, as well as a bibliography of articles from the historic archive – if you have access to your local library’s collection you’ll find these fascinating.
These are the places we walk by every day and only realize until later how much better the world is because the people in them existed.
Padro AM. Let’s save our black history landmarks. The Washington Post (1974-Current file). 2001:B8. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/1967228738?accountid=46320.
Callis HA. Carter G. woodson. The Washington Post (1923-1954). 1950:6. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/152310322?accountid=46320.
LINDA WHEELER Washington Post Staff Writer. Home of black history movement imperiled in D.C. The Washington Post (1974-Current file). 2001:B2. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/1965405886?accountid=46320.
Milloy C. Black history’s doorway is in need of care. The Washington Post (1974-Current file). 2001:C1A. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/1963638868?accountid=46320.
Gaines P. Finding the story in history’s ‘footnote’. The Washington Post (1974-Current file). 1994:D_C_1. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/751172937?accountid=46320.
LINDA WHEELER Washington Post Staff Writer. D.C. sites listed as endangered. The Washington Post (1974-Current file). 2001:B5A. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/1962436653?accountid=46320.
Students honor carter woodson. The Washington Post (1923-1954). 1946:5. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/151858148?accountid=46320.
Special to, THE NEW YORK TIMES. Dr. c.g. woodson, retired educator. New York Times (1923-Current file). 1950:30. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/111392466?accountid=46320.
NERISSA LONG MILTON. Study of negro history. The Washington Post (1923-1954). 1953:18. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/152618178?accountid=46320.
Negro history fete will begin on feb. 7. The Washington Post (1923-1954). 1932:S9. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/150333127?accountid=46320.
Display ad 70 — no title. The Chicago Defender (National edition) (1921-1967). 1923:20. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/491976957?accountid=46320.
Racial problems will be discussed at meetings here. The Washington Post (1923-1954). 1925:AU6. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/149499345?accountid=46320.
Four held in slaying of trio from ambush. The Washington Post (1923-1954). 1927:2. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/149719510?accountid=46320.
Dr CGW. Assistance needed for study of negro history. The New York Amsterdam News (1922-1938). 1932:8. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/226298067?accountid=46320.
Social tidbits; retirement dinner set for art carter. Washington Informer (pre-1990). 1986;23(5):20. https://search.proquest.com/docview/340432058?accountid=46320.
McKinney G. Black archival center saved. Washington Informer (pre-1990). 1986;22(15):1. https://search.proquest.com/docview/340459230?accountid=46320.
Graves DA. Many D.C. homes once housed a famous black american. Afro – American Red Star. 1996:A3. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/369606995?accountid=46320.
Wheeler L. Restoration sought for home of pioneering black historian. The Washington Post. 2002:DE.3. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/409286553?accountid=46320.
Wants $10,000. Afro-American (1893-1988). 1929:4. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/530768496?accountid=46320.
Matthews R. Research and romance. Afro-American (1893-1988). 1947:M_12. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/531624554?accountid=46320.
Hunt B. ASALH considers ways to clear $60,000 debt. Afro-American (1893-1988). 1986:16. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/532559092?accountid=46320.
March 22, 2013 (page B2 EZ SU). The Washington Post (2008 – Recent). 2013:B2 EZ SU. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/1936231112?accountid=46320.
Sewell C. Black pioneer’s NW home slated to become museum; historic site bill fulfills dream for run-down carter woodson house. The Washington Post. 2003:B.01. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/409557926?accountid=46320.
Eric Charles May Washington Post Staff Writer. Black history’s. The Washington Post (1974-Current file). 1988:DC1. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/139865748?accountid=46320.