Welcome to the AOI of D.C.!
The AOI is the District of Columbia's oldest historic organization, founded December 7, 1865, incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1903 and is an IRS 501c(3) tax-exempt organization. Please navigate through our site to learn more about us, our history, discover if your ancestors were AOI members, and consider joining our organization.
While our paper archives are located in the Kiplinger Research Library of the DC History Center, our website is our virtual archives where many of the initiatives, programs, testimonials, civic action, and member activities are documented.
Here is a link to the AOI History video created especially for our 150th gala. Peter Swinburne's video of our gala has now be published on YouTube. You can view it here: https://youtu.be/l8KAgO_Nhx4
Check out our "Upcoming Events" page, right column, past speakers to listen to retired DC Police Sergeant Paul Leeper's account of his teams' arrest of the Watergate burglars (in 2 parts) or Security Storage's Conrad Reid recount his experiences Moving the First Families. On a sad note, Conrad Reid died July 24, 2015 at the age of 80. Also, we have begun placing our monthly luncheon programs and speakers on our "Luncheon Audio" page.
AOI was one of five recipients of the Historical Society's Making History Awards along with Mayor Tony Williams, Maguire Family (Maguire Funeral Service), the Meyer Foundation and Washingtonian Magazine. You can view all of produced videos which accompanied the presentation here on YouTube and view a brief version of AOI's history.
The Centennial of World War I - see articles below and click here to link to our page of WWI memorials, programs and events.
Call to Action Results in Success!
Our combined efforts to save the Smithsonian's Enid Haupt Gardens have paid off! After providing testimony before the District's Historic Preservation Review Board on April 27, 2017, together with the Committee of 100's application for Historic Designation authors Richard Longstreth and Peter Sefton, Preservation League's Rebecca Miller and others the HPRB approved the application for Historic Designation unanimously. This is the first time in all of my years of testifying on any matter before any board, commission or Council that the initiative that we supported was approved on-the-spot. A big "Thank You" to everyone who weighed in on this.
Bill Brown, President
You can watch (scan through) the video of the testimony by clicking on this this link: http://ec4.cc/dg8452425
Read the DC Historic Preservation Review Board's official designation here:
Decoration Day at Arlington National Cemetery
Each Decoration Day (May 30th) the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War conduct a program at the old amphitheater adjacent to the Tomb of the Union Civil War Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. Listen to AOI President Bill Brown's remarks as he recounts for those present the service of Alexander Shepherd during the Civil War at the 2013 ceremony. Click here. The 2014 Decoration Day ceremony rededicated the Old Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery as the Corporal James Tanner Memorial Amphitheater and Bill Brown's remarks provide an historic perspective of the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Fort Stevens. Click here.
The District's Historic Height Act
Click here for the latest developments in proposed changes to the District's historic Height Act! (see right hand column) and follow the position AOI has taken on the potential changes to the District historic Building Heights Act. As of November 21, 2013, the NCPC has rejected recommending changes to the Buildings Height Act except for certain uses of penthouses and the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts has endorsed those recommendations in their letter of November 26, 2013 to the NCPC from Chairman Thomas Luebke. NEW! The Washington Post's John Kelly reminds us how fortunate we are to have maintained our historic height limitations. He describes a future D.C., 2065, as depicted in the Fox network's "Minority Report" crime drama (Mon. evenings, 9pm). Read John's story here: "To preservationist, TV show's DC of the Future is a crime foretold." Note: the on-line version is titled: "What's Josiah Barlet doing on Fox TV's 'Minority Report?'
The District of Columbia War Memorial
Be sure to see the link on our News page for important information on the future of the District's War Memorials, links to news coverage and videos current as of 5/20/2016. Congress has approved the 2015 Defense Appropriation Act which, among other things, includes designating Pershing Park as the national World War I Memorial in the District of Columbia. Read The Washington Times' Thomas Howell, Jr's. account of new legislation sponsored by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Congressman Cleaver and other to re-dedicate the Pershing Memorial as the National World War I Memorial in the District. Read the text of HR 4489 here. In addition, the World War I Commission -- at its forum and trade show held Sat., June 14, 2014 -- announced its support to revitalize and rededicate Pershing Park as a national World War I Memorial here in Washington, D.C. Click here to link to the Commission's site. Also, as part of the AOI's continuing concern about the District's WWI 16th Street Tree Memorial (Centennial is 2020) as well as the DC War Memorial, we have compiled a listing of the more than 499 District men and women who perished in WWI. This listing continues to improve as more information is learned. AOI member Barbara Bates, in anticipation of an up-coming visit to the American cemeteries in France and England, has conducted research that has provided more in depth information on 64 of DC's fallen interred or listed as missing in these cemeteries. Her research also revealed that 15 of those 64 were African Americans. This information had not been previously accessible as the alphabetical listing of DC's fallen have always been without regard to race, gender, service branch or rank. Barbara's research has helped to answer some of these questions and our compilation may be found at DC's WWI War Dead. We have also added a link to the information maintained by the ABMC for each veteran.
During the centennial period of America's involvement in WWI, we will provide links to some sites that may be of interest to you:
AOI Director Barbara Bates has completed her comprehensive paper, "The Emergence of American Air Power in World War I." Read about Americans' early forays into air combat and the stories of the heroes who served and perished.
"The Emergence of American Air Power in World War I"
Barbara has also completed her, "The Ten Women on the District of Columbia War Memorial or Tree Memorial." It is available, upon request, in printed form OR you can down-load and view it her. Please, if you enjoy it, use our "Contact Us" page to send Barbara a note of 'thanks' for her hours of hard work.
October 2020 -- Barbara Bates has just completed her newest research work, "African American Men of the District of Columbia War Memorial and the 16th Street Tree Memorial and Markers." Barbara has researched and documented the 62 African American men listed on the D.C. War Memorials which had not been previously documented. Recall that the names of the 499 men and women on the D.C. War Memorial are listed alphabetically without regard to gender, race or rank. This work is another eye-opener into the District of Columbia citizens who perished (by combat, accident or disease) in the First World War. The new information that Barbara has uncovered has also been added to the AOI's comprehensive list of "The District of Columbia War Dead."
Barbara Bates has completed her comprehensive compendium "Remembering the Great War in Washington, DC Through its Memorials and Monuments." Read it now!
We have added a Virtual Visit to the DC War Memorial which allows you to view all of the panels containing the names of all 499 District of Columbia residents who are memorialized there.
Barbara Bates has compiled another document detailing the DC war dead who appear on both the DC War Memorial and other local memorials. The Names of the Veterans on the District of Columbia War Memorial also has been compiled based upon an up-dated, verified list (engraved names compared to AOI's spreadsheet) of all 499 engraved on the memorial.
Barbara Bates has also compiled a listing of all of the District's WWI dead who are either interred or commemorated in overseas cemeteries maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission on ABMC and the DC War Memorial.
The U.S. Army Center for Military History has a great interactive site dedicated to World War I. Check it out here: https://history.army.mil/html/bookshelves/resmat/wwi/prologue/default/index.html
The Library of Congress has opened its major World War I exhibit, “Echoes of the Great War: The American Experience of World War I.” In the Jefferson Building, second floor, southwest gallery: https://www.loc.gov/item/prn-16-129/
Additionally, 5 short videos are available on YouTube of the above "Echoes of the Great War..." which you can watch via this link: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLxRVVzUltvkyxX1Y7WhD34bl2WCdQ2wU6
Also, at the Library of Congress: “World War I, American Artists View the Great War” remains on view in the Jefferson Building ground floor graphics gallery through May 6.
To see what our neighbors in Arlington, Virginia are doing, click here: WWI Commemoration Task Force.
AOI has established a separate web page dedicated to the centennial of World War I events in DC: AOI's Compilation of World War I Events and Activities
The AOI's and the D.C. National Guard's joint observance of the centennial of the Armistice on November 11, 2o18 was a resounding success. While we take steps to consolidate and archive our efforts to commemorate the centennial of World War I and await a video of the event's proceedings, here is a slide show of some of photos taken by event participants and shared with us.
Here is a photo album created by AOI member Bill Rice with some fantastic photos of the observance: AOI, Memorial Day @ DC WW I Memorial 11-11-18
Here is the "Washington Post's" coverage of the event: Nation's Capital Honors Veterans After the End of World War I
Here is a link to a brief YouTube video we created to give a sense of the event: Centennial of the Armistice
NEW, May 30, 2022: Click on this link to view AOI's unveiling of the commemorative wayside for the 16th Street Tree War Memorial on the 102nd anniversary of the dedication of the 2-mile length of 16th Street dedicated as memorial to the more than 500 District residents who perished during the Great War. (Scroll to the bottom right panel to view the videos)
NEW, November 11, 2022: A virtual dedication has been created to unveil the cemetery markers for the four DC women veterans who were never provided grave markers. To view the Virtual Unveiling and accompanying narrative at the bottom of the page, click here.
Please note: Some of the events listed on AOI's WWI compilation page may have already occurred or are no longer available; however, we have decided to leave them posted to demonstrate the breadth and scope of interest in this important period of our history.
Association of the Oldest Inhabitants (Colored), Incorporated
Of particular note are the remarkable developments on the AOI's quest for the location of the records of the AOI (Colored), Inc. AOI Seeks Members and Records of AOI Colored, Inc., first publicized in 2010 by John Kelly in "Gathering of Segregated 'Old Timers' Group a Mystery" and his Feb. 2012 follow-up story "A Snapshot of D.C.'s Segregated Past Comes to Light in a Roundabout Way" detailing this story of curiosity, persistence and serendipity. A link to the Moorland-Spingarn Library's Manuscript Collection can be viewed here.
An Interesting New Find!
At its regular meeting on Thursday, October 20, 2022, new AOI Member Sherri Sewall was introduced and she revealed her great-grandfather, George Sewall, was a signatory on a Ceremonial Resolution honoring AOI (Colored), Incorporated's Founder and First President Jerome A. Johnson in 1915, which is in her possession. She was told about AOI's efforts to establish the William Nixon collection at Moorland-Spingarn Library at Howard and was encouraged to reach out to them should she wish to find a suitable "home" for her family treasure.
The Governor Alexander Robey Shepherd Statue
The Shepherd Statue commemorative plaque was dedicated on Tues., Nov. 16, 2010 at 9:30 AM. In 2012 through the generous initiatives of the D.C. Commission on the Arts & Humanities, the Shepherd statue was cleaned and restored. See 'News' and 'Governor Shepherd' tabs. Now, through the generosity of AOI member Edith Johnson a fund has been established that, together with the directed donations of other AOI members, will pay for the periodic inspection and cleaning of the USG Dunbar statue into the early 2030s. This gift from Edith Johnson is the largest, single donation to the AOI since a bequest of Theodore Noyes in the 1940s. "Thank you, Edith!" for helping ensure that the city's first outdoor statue to a native Washingtonian and the District's 2nd Territorial Governor will be maintained for many years to come.
Watch John Richardson's brief video account of Shepherd's accomplishments documented in his new biography featured in a WETA-TV feature. A written review can be read as part of WETA's "Boundary Stones" Washington History Blog.
The Washington Post's John Kelly has written a great account of John's 30-year effort to document the life of Alexander Robey Shepherd in his "DC's street-paving whirlwind to Mexican adventurer."
Plight of the District's Historic Records
Since 2005, the AOI of DC has continuously called to the public's attention the "Plight of the District's Historic Records." The collections that were at risk, and some remain so to this day, included: The D.C. Archives, the Kiplinger Research Library of the Historical Society of Washington, the records of the Recorder of Deeds, the collections of the Washingtoniana Collection of the D.C. Public Library at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library and the records/collections of the D.C. Public School system's Sumner School Museum and Archives. Many successes have been achieved since 2005; however, the collection that remains at the most risk is the D.C. Archives. Recently, a Friends of the D.C. Archives group has been founded with the goals of ensuring that $44 million in DC Council-approved appropriations for a new archives is, in fact, used for that purpose, that a new archives facility be appropriately staffed and maintained and that the regulations of the D.C. government are followed in collecting, maintaining and preserving the records of the city. Check out the FDCA's new web site here. Read Matthew Gilmore's comprehensive history of the District of Columbia Archives in this article written for Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities. Not included among that list of endangered collections in 2005 was The Peabody Room at the Georgetown Branch Library. Little would anyone have thought that the collection was almost lost in a fire that damaged the building in 2007. The Peabody Room re-opened in their newly renovated facility in October of 2010! Click here to learn more about the Peabody Room Reconstruction.
As of April 2023 there is substantial movement in the future of a new DC Archives including the proposed location on the campus of the University of the District of Columbia, public listening sessions for design and staffing ideas and a commitment from the Mayor and the DC Council to proceed with this project. You can learn more at these two additional web sites:
DC Archives Advocates AND
The D.C. Council's Archives Advisory Group
Clara Barton's Missing Soldiers Office
Friends of Clara Barton's Missing Soldiers Office has been established. The GSA, the Friends of Clara Barton's Missing Soldiers Office and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine announced their plans for opening and operating a museum at an event on April 12, 2012, the centennial of Ms. Barton's death. You can be kept informed of their activities by joining (no donation/fees required) the Friends. Read more here: Friends Of Clara Barton's Missing Soldiers Office Info Flyer OR Fill Out a NMCWM Volunteer Form - Clara Barton and apply to become a volunteer at the new facility. Watch CSpan's 5 minute documentary featuring AOI member Richard Lyons and his discovery of Clara Barton's Missing Soldiers Office.
Listen to Kenneth Burke's talk on Clara Barton from AOI's Oct. 20, 2017 luncheon.
Yarrow Mamout Archeology Project
Read about and support the archaeological examination of Yarrow Mamout's property in Georgetown.
Follow us on Facebook for up-coming events or current topics. Also, drop us an email regarding your interests or, perhaps, your family's connection to the AOI of DC. You can also view AOI's luncheon program videos (commencing in Nov. 2021) on AOI's YouTube channel.
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This site was last modified on May 25, 2023.