History of Metropolitan Washington

Stephen Diner
George Mason University
Fairfax, Virginia, USA

Fall 1995



This course examines urban growth in Washington, D.C. since 1790, and its influence upon and expansion into the Maryland and northern Virginia suburbs. We will place the urban development of metropolitan Washington within the larger context of United States urban history and contrast the unique conditions of Washington's history with the pattern of urban growth in the United States generally. Class sessions will be divided between lectures and discussions of assigned readings.

The following required texts are available at the GMU Bookstore:

    Kenneth Alfers, Law and Order in the Capital City: A History of the Washinqton Police, 1800-1886. George Washington University, 1976.

    James Borchert, Alley Life in Washinaton: Family Community, Religion and Folklife in the City, 1850 - 1970. University of Illinois Press, 1980.

    David Brinkley, Washington Goes to War. Ballantine Books.

    Jessica Elfenbein, Civics, Commerce and Community: The History of the Greater Washinqton Board of Trade, 1889-1989. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1989.

    Suzanne Sherwood, Foggy Bottom. 1800-1975: A Study in the Uses of an Urban Neighborhood. George Washington University, 1978.

    Kathryn Schneider Smith, Port Town to Urban Neiqhborhood:The Georgetown Waterfront of Washington, D.C. 1880-1920. GeorgeWashington University, 1989.

    A package of articles and book chapters, available for purchase at the SUB I Copy Shop.

    --------Constance M. Green's Washington: A History of the Capital (Princeton University Press) is the best general survey of this subject. It is available at the GMU bookstore in softbound edition.

Mid-term Examination 20%
Research Paper 30%
Class Journals 208
Final Examination 30%

Class attendance is *required*. Each class absence or lateness will lower your grade by one point on a one hundred point scale.

A research paper on some specialized aspect of the history of metropolitan Washington for a particular time period is required. The paper can be based on research in primary and secondary sources, or based entirely on secondary sources. Most topics will require research in one of the Washington area's local history collections. The most useful, by far, is:

The Washingtoniana Division
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library
9th & G Streets, NW, Room 307
Washington, D.C.
Telephone: (202) 727-1213 or (202) 727-1199
Other local history collections that may be helpful include:
The Virginia Room
Fairfax County Public Library
3915 Chain Bridge Road
Fairfax City
Telephone: (703) 246-2123

Virginia Room
Arlington County Library
816 South Walter Reed Drive
Telephone: (703) 358-5700

Lloyd House
220 North Washington Street
Telephone: (703) 838-4577

Alexandria Public Library
717 Queen Street, Alexandria
Telephone: (703) 838-4555

Many subjects can also be pursued using the Library of Congress.

Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing your research paper:
1) Papers should be organized and written to address a central theme. Make sure everything in the paper ties into the theme.
2) Papers must have footnotes or endnotes, and must also include a bibliography of sources used.
3) Correct grammar, spelling and usage are essential.
4) NEVER, NEVER, NEVER copy three or more words from a book or article without placing them in quotation marks and indicating the source of the quotation. Use quotations sparingly. Whenever possible, put things in your own words. Quotations should be used only when the material quoted says something that cannot be conveyed adequately by paraphrasing.
5) Topics, bibliographies and paper outlines MUST be approved by the instructor before you submit the paper. See class calendar for specific due dates.

At the end of each week, questions will be distributed addressing the major issued discussed in class or in assigned readings. You should prepare answers to these questions as soon thereafter as possible. These journals will be graded twice during the semester.

Answers to journal questions should be typed doubled-spaced. Your answers should be numbered consistent with the question sheets, and the questions.

The journal questions will form the basis for the mid-term and final examinations.


August 28, 30, September 1
Topic: Introduction -- Major themes in the history of Washington, The founding of the Capital City
Readings: **Constance M. Green, "Washington, the Federal City" (Packet # 1)

September 6 & 8
Topic: Economic and Physical Development of Washington, Alexandria & Georgetown
Readings: **Gutheim & Washburn, The Federal City: Plans and Realities, pp. 1-31. (Packet # 1); Sherwood, Foggy Bottom, chapter 1.
Due: Paper Topic (one paragraph description) due September 6

September 11, 13, 15
Topic: Government & City Services in Ante-Bellum Washington
Readings: Alfers, Law and Order in the Capital City, chapters 1-4.

September 18, 20, 22
Topic: Government & City Services (continued)
Readings: Alfers, Law and Order in the Capital City, chapters 4-6 & conclusion.

September 27 & 29 (no class September 25)
Topic: Slavery, Race Relations & Black Life in Ante-Bellum Washington
Readings: Letitia Woods Brown, "The Life of Free Negroes," from Free Negroes in the District of Columbia. (Packet # 2)
Due: Paper Bibliography due September 27

October 2, 4 & 6
Topic: The Civil War & Its Aftermath, The Territorial Government
Readings: **Alan Lessoff, "Improvers and Old Citizens." (Packet # 3)

MID TERM EXAM: Wednesday, October 2 (students observing Yom Kippur can take exam on alternative date)

October 11 & 13 (October 9 is Columbus Day recess)
Topic: Physical & Economic Development, 1874 - 1945
Readings: **Gutheim & Washburn, The Federal City: Plans and Realities, pp. 32-68. (Packet # 1); Smith, Port Town to Urban Neighborhood; Sherwood, Foggy Bottom, chapters 2 & 3.

October 16, 18 & 20
Topic: Race Relations & African-American Life, 1874-1945
Readings: Borchert, Alley Life in Washington.
Due: October 16 -- Journals

October 23, 25 & 27
Topic: Race Relations & African-American Life, 1874-1945, continued
Readings: **Willard B. Gatewood, "Washington: Capital of the Colored Aristocracy," From Aristocrats of Color. (packet # 4); **Elizabeth Clark-Lewis, "This Work Had a End": African-American Domestic Workers in Washington, D.C. 1910-1940." (packet # 5)

October 30, November 1 & 3
Topic: Immigrants, Social History
Readings: ** Howard Gillette & Alan Kraut, "The Evolution of Washington's Italian-American Community, 1890 World War II." (packet # 6); **Hasia & Steven Diner, "Washington's Jewish Community: Separate But Not Apart." (packet # 8); **Cindy Aron, "Feminization, Rationalization, Mechanization," from Ladies and Gentlemen of the Civil Service: Middle Class Workers in Victorian America. (packet # 7)
DUE: Paper Outline -- October 30

November 6, 8 & 10
Topic: Government, 1874-1945
Readings: Elfenbein, Civics, Commerce & Community, chapters 1-3.

November 13, 15 & 17
Topic: World War II
Readings: Brinkley, Washington Goes to War.

November 20 & 22
Topic: Postwar Physical, Economic and Neighborhood Development
Readings: Sherwood, Foggy Bottom, chapters 4-8 & conclusion.; **Gillette, "A National Workshop for Urban Policy: The Metropolitanization of Washington, 1946 - 1962" (Packet # 1); Elfenbein, Civics, Commerce & Community, chapters 4-6.
DUE: Research Paper Due November 20.

November 27, 29, December 1
Topic: Civil Rights & Home Rule
Readings: **Diner, "Washington: The Black Majority: Race and Politics in the Nation's Capital", from Snowbelt Cities. (Packet # 8)

December 4, 6 & 8
Topic: Metropolitanization
Readings: **George Grier, The Growth That Won't Go Away. (Packet # 1)
Due: Journals due December 4

December 15
Final Exam, 10:30 A.M. to 1:15 P.M.

Syllabus prepared 2000 for H-Urban Teaching Center.

Syllabus copyright 1995 Stephen Diner. All rights reserved.
Permission to copy and use under "fair use" in education is granted,
provided proper credit is given.

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