Thursday, September 9, 2010

30 Stories for 30 Years: East of the River

Exhibition and Book Examine Communities East of the Anacostia

DouglassMost D.C. residents don’t know that the Nacotchtank Indians were the first settlers east of the Anacostia River. The Nacotchtank gave the Anacostia its name, and used the area’s waterways for fishing. They planted crops where today there are city blocks and buildings. After European settlers took over the land, they established the village of Good Hope. The village eventually became a home for former black slaves after the Civil War. By the 1890s Barry Farm was a thriving community of black landowners, attracting skilled craftsmen, truck farmers, businessmen, and professionals. One of the early residents was abolitionist, writer, and statesman Frederick Douglass.

The Humanities Council of Washington, DC is supporting the Anacostia Community Museum in telling the history of the D.C.'s neighborhoods located east of the Anacostia River. The museum will produce a 150-page illustrated book on the subject.

The museum opened an exhibition entitled “East of the River: Continuity and Change” in 2007. The exhibition examined community life, and explored the development of these neighborhoods from a provocative yet familiar perspective – the struggle over land: who owns it, who controls it, who profits from it, and how residents determine their own destiny.

The exhibit, with additional research, will form the foundation for the upcoming book. For more information on the release of the book, please visit the museum’s website!

(Painting: Frederick Douglass by Daniel Freeman. From the collection of Jerome Gray.)

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