Greater Washington Topics

Thurgood Marshall: A Trail-Blazing Civil Rights Victory in Montgomery County​ **NEW**

Speaker: Ralph Buglass

Civil rights icon Thurgood Marshall delivered an early blow to school segregation right here in Montgomery County—gaining equal pay for the county’s African American teachers in 1937. This little-known legal case is often seen as the first step in Marshall’s successful drive to have separate schools for white and black children declared unconstitutional, as the Supreme Court did 17 years later in a landmark decision. This illustrated talk details this remarkable local story and its national significance. Spoiler alert: the victory came at a tremendous cost to the teacher bringing the case.


George Atzerodt – The Other Conspirator **NEW**

Speaker: Susan Soderberg 

After their ringleader, John Wilkes Booth, was killed, other conspirators in the plot to assassinate President Lincoln and other top leaders of the government were tried before a Courts Martial. Four of them were executed by hanging. Most people know of Mary Surratt, the first woman executed by the United States; Davy Herald, the young man who led Booth on his escape; and Lewis Powell, the man who almost succeeded in killing Secretary of State Seward. But what of George Atzerodt, the Prussian immigrant who did not carry out his assignment of murdering Vice President Johnson and was later arrested in Germantown, Maryland? Who was he? How did he get involved in this plot? Why didn’t he assassinate the vice president? How did he escape? And why was he hanged? This PowerPoint presentation will answer these questions with illustrations from the past and the present.


The New Face of Montgomery County **NEW**

Speaker: Steve Roberts

Montgomery County today is a global community of a million people with one-third of its residents born outside the United States. The dramatic growth of immigrant populations from all regions of the world has profoundly changed the community’s social, cultural and economic dynamic. This program will discuss the modern history of immigration in Montgomery County for different communities, including countries of origins and reasons for migration, settlement patterns, professions of choice, community organizing, cultural identities, and ties with home countries. The speaker will draw on some of his Bethesda Magazine columns to tell stories that flesh out the statistical trends of this recent history.


Sugarloaf: The Singular History of a Singular Mountain **NEW**

Speaker: Ralph Buglass

Sugarloaf Mountain, a private oasis of natural beauty and scenic vistas that is open to the public, nearly became Camp David and was almost topped with a modernistic structure designed by one of America’s most famous architects, Frank Lloyd Wright, that instead ended up as a New York City landmark. This extensively illustrated talk explores these and other historical oddities of this tiny mountain that sits all by itself just over the Montgomery County line in Frederick County.


Offutt’s Crossroads: The Early History of Potomac and its Founding Family **NEW**

Speaker: Ralph Buglass 

This talk and slide presentation covers the “first family” of Potomac: the Offutts for whom Potomac was originally named (Offutt’s Crossroads). The talk, by a descendant of the Offutt family, explores when and how the village came to be called Potomac, with feuding among the family, the end of slavery, a business partnership gone bad, and attempted murder all playing a part—not to mention a few ghostly appearances in later years!


A History of Maryland Through its Gardens **NEW**

Speaker: Barbara Glickman

The history and horticultural highlights of approximately 11 gardens and their homes and owners are covered in some detail, and the sites are:  Historic St. Mary’s City; Historic London Town and Gardens; Sotterley Plantation; Mount Harmon Plantation; Hampton National Historic Site; William Paca House and Garden; Montpelier Mansion; Riversdale House Museum; Glenview Mansion; Evergreen Museum & Library; and Cylburn Arboretum.  Other sites I discuss briefly include:  Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center;  Baltimore Museum of Art Sculpture Garden;  Wye Island Natural Resources Management Area;  Cranesville Swamp;  Brookside Gardens; Ladew Topiary Gardens, Antietam National Battlefield, and Monocacy National Battlefield.  The presentation is about 50 minutes in length, includes approximately 90 photos, and could be called.  


Grand Old Ditch – C&O Canal Past, Present and Future

Speaker: Judith Welles

Judith Welles, a local history author and C&O Canal volunteer, provides historic highlights and photographs of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, including the canal’s role in the Civil War, historic structures, and unique engineering marvels in the mid-19th Century.  The presentation also describes current-day challenges facing the C&O Canal National Historical Park and volunteer opportunities.  


Capital Splendor-Gardens and Parks of Washington DC

Speaker: Barbara Glickman

This PowerPoint lecture and slide presentation includes about 80 photographs, and provides a framework of different landscape garden design styles for viewing these features at approximately 9 of the 32 gardens in the speaker’s 2012 book by the same name. These landscape design types include Italian, French, Italian, colonial, and topiary. In addition, the talk covers the highlights of those gardens and provides historical information of the gardens, houses, and landscape architects. Due to their historical significance and diverse nature, the following gardens are included in some detail in the presentation: George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens; River Farm; Meridian Hill Park; Tudor Place; Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens; Dumbarton Oaks; Tregaron Conservancy; Ladew Topiary Gardens; and the US Botanic Garden. The PowerPoint includes photos of other gardens and parks that highlight the region’s diversity, such as Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Huntley Meadows, Meadowlark Gardens, and McKee Beshers Wildlife Management Area. The speaker’s book may be offered for sale and signing, as appropriate.



William Marbury: The Man Whose Lawsuit Made the Supreme Court, Supreme

Speaker: James Johnston

William Marbury was the son of an impoverished tobacco farmer and his wife in Prince Georges County. When the young Marbury became an accounting clerk for the state in Annapolis, he dreamed of fame and fortune. By 1800, he had acquired the wealth and a large house in Georgetown. So, when the impertinent new president, Thomas Jefferson, told Secretary of State James Madison not to deliver to Marbury his commission as justice of the peace, Marbury wanted to use his wealth to teach Jefferson a lesson. Today, Marbury’s and Madison’s portraits hang side by side in the private dining room of the Supreme Court. The portraits are graphic reminders that the case of Marbury v. Madison established the proposition that the Supreme Court reigns supreme on matters of constitutional interpretation.