Past Features



African American Oral History Project

In 2019, Historic Takoma launched an initiative designed to collect and preserve the reflections  of older African Americans who had  been longtime residents of our city’s  historically Black neighborhoods – which centered around the “Hill” (Ritchie, Geneva, and Oswego Avenues) and the “Bottom” (Cherry and Colby Avenues off of Sligo Creek Parkway), along with smaller settlements such as the one at the foot of Lincoln Avenue at Maple Avenue – to elevate their voices and stories and share them with the larger community. 

Residents Susan Schreiber (Historic Takoma board member) and Denny May  reached out to local folklorist and oral historian Ali Khan and documentary filmmaker Michael Fincham and assembled a project team including community advisors Patricia Matthews, Dale Jones, Gaynell Catherine, Dianne Bradley (joined later by Joan Francis), and secured initial funding from the City of Takoma Park’s Community Grants Program.  

Over the past three years (with some time out for pandemic delays) the project has conducted and filmed oral history interviews with individuals who shared their reflections on growing up in Takoma Park from roughly the 1940s through the early 1960s, and  how parents and community leaders came together to build a vibrant and resilient community for their families in the face of racial and economic challenges.   Both the filmed interviews and written transcripts will be accessible to researchers, students, and the general public through Historic Takoma’s archives, along withl links for each of the project films. Read More

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T-Shirts!!

Archives volunteer Janet Douglas recently completed a project to organize, photograph, and catalog Historic Takoma’s wide ranging t-shirt collection depicting the life, politics, sports, events, and culture of the Takoma Park community. The collection consists of nearly 70 shirts, of which 55 are unique (the remainder being duplicates). If you have a t-shirt, in good condition, that doesn’t duplicate what we already have, we’d be interested in considering adding it to our collection. Please write to archives@historictakoma.org (and include a picture of your shirt(s)).

See our Displays and Exhibits page for images of the full set of t-shirts in the collection.

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ISO Takoma Authors

Historic Takoma has launched a project to collect and document the work of authors living in (or closely associated with) Takoma Park. Initially this project focuses on collecting the publications of Takoma Authors and developing short biographical profiles to introduce the authors to the community. We currently have a small collection of books by local authors in our Reading Room – but it’s a tiny fraction of this author-rich community. The current list of books in our Takoma Authors Collection can be be found here.

If you are a published author living in Takoma Park – or once lived in Takoma Park or otherwise are closely associated with Takoma Park – Read More

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Voices of Takoma Authors Inaugural Event

“From Mobtown With Love: Bringing the Past to Life with Historical Mystery Fiction”

Historic Takoma launches the “Voices of Takoma Authors” on January 29 with “From Mobtown With Love: Bringing the Past to Life with Historical Mystery Fiction” with local author, Bill LeFurgy. The event takes place at Historic Takoma (7328 Carroll Avenue) from 3 PM – 5 PM.

A resident of Takoma Park since 1998, Bill is a professional historian and archivist who has studied the gilded glamor and seamy underbelly of urban life. He has put his years of research experience into writing gritty historical fiction about Baltimore, where he lived for over a decade. It remains his favorite city. While working at the Library of Congress, Bill headed a national program to preserve digital cultural heritage materials. In addition, he toured the world to speak to hundreds of libraries, archives, and museums about digital cultural heritage.

Before the Library, Bill worked as Manager of the Modern Records Program at the National Archives and Records Administration and as Baltimore City Archivist. He also worked as Manuscript Archivist at the Maryland Historical Society.

Bill will discuss his writing, his research, living in Takoma Park and more. His books, Into the Suffering City: A Novel of Baltimore; Murder In the Haunted Chamber; and Sex, Art, and Salome: Historical Photographs of a Princess, Dancer, Stripper, and Feminist Inspiration will be available for purchase after the event.

Please visit Bill’s website for more information about his work.

Historic Takoma’s Voices of Takoma Authors is a program developed in conjunction with our Takoma Authors project to collect and document the work of authors living in (or closely associated with) Takoma Park. As part of this project Historic Takoma has a collection of books by local authors available to read in our Reading Room.

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2023 Historic Takoma Directors and Officers

The Board of Directors of Historic Takoma re-elected four members to new three-year terms at its December 2022 meeting. Rachel Hardwick, Elizabeth Thornhill, Ashley Florey, and Susan Schreiber will serve from 2023 through 2025. The Board of Historic Takoma consists of 12 members serving staggered 3 year terms.

At its January 2023 meeting the Board selected officers for 2023: President, Diana Kohn; Vice-President, Lorraine Pearsall; Secretary, Elizabeth Thornhill; Treasurer, Rachel Hardwick.

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Help Support Historic Takoma’s Programs

Historic Takoma is committed to documenting and sharing the history and culture of the Takoma Park community. In 2022 we were able to begin programming after a couple of years of COVID restrictions. We opened our public Reading Room, presented a program on the 25th anniversary of the unification of Takoma Park into one county, rejuvenated our archives work, initiated a project to collect works by Takoma Authors, presented workshops on researching house histories, and started regular postings on social media. In 2023 promises more….

But our programs depend on your financial support. Please consider making a 2022 end of the year contribution [DONATE] and becoming a MEMBER in 2023. Thank you for your support!

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Takoma Park Founders Day – November 24

Benjamin Franklin Gilbert

On November 24, 1883, Benjamin Franklin Gilbert purchased approximately 100 acres known as lots 2 and 3 of the “Grammer Farm” straddling the Maryland-DC line and the B&O Railroad. He paid $7,500. Though just six miles from downtown Washington, this was the “wilderness,” mostly scrubby forest. There was no train station, just a three-sided shelter (then called Brightwood). Only Blair Road (then Left Fork Road) and a portion of Carroll Street/Avenue (then Sandy Spring Road) existed. [See maps below] The rest of the streets were just lines on a paper map. 

On this same date Gilbert’s “Takoma Park” subdivision was approved, turning the 100 acres into 15 “blocks” with nearly 250 lots, the beginning of Gilbert’s vision of  a “Sylvan Suburb” where families could live in a healthy, rural wilderness just a 20- minute railroad commute to Washington.Read More

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Maryland Property Research Workshop – November 6, 2022, 2 PM

This is a hands-on technical workshop geared to exploring the details of property research in Maryland. The first hour will walk participants through access to Maryland land records and how to use them to trace property history. The second hour will be an open session to answer specific questions and provide one-on-one assistance.

This workshop will be held at Historic Takoma’s Reading Room, 7328 Carroll Avenue in Takoma Junction

Prior to the Workshop:

At the Workshop

  • Bring a laptop or tablet – we will be logging into and using the property websites
  • Paper and pencil are helpful for jotting notes about information on the websites

Questions?

If you have questions prior to the workshop please send a note to Jim Douglas at sixmilesfromwashington.com

About the Historic Takoma Reading Room

The Reading Room is open the first and third Sundays of each month, from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM.

7328 Carroll Avenue, Takoma Park – in Takoma Junction

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Introduction to House History Research – October 16, 2022

A portion of a 1930 map of Takoma Park – one of the many resources available at Historic Takoma

Come to Historic Takoma’s Reading Room on Sunday, October 16, for an introduction to resources and tools for researching the history of your house and the families that lived there. Learn about property records, census data, newspapers, maps, pictures, archives, and more. This is an opportunity to ask questions and become familiar with resources that Historic Takoma has along with those from other organizations.

Bring a laptop or other device to learn how to access various online resources.

The Reading Room is open the first and third Sundays of each month, from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. This session will begin at 3:00 PM.

7328 Carroll Avenue, Takoma Park – in Takoma Junction

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