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Historical Context





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The Octagon of Washington, D.C.: The House that Helped Build a Capital --
Supplementary Resources

Those interested in The Octagon, the history of Washington, D.C., grassroots historic preservation, and the War of 1812 can access additional resources online. Here is a selection of websites that students and educators may find helpful.

The Octagon Museum
The American Institute of Architects Foundation owns and operates The Octagon Museum at the historic Octagon house. Visit this official website to plan a tour, sign up for Octagon news alerts, discover special events, and find out more about the American Institute of Architects.

National Park Service Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary Series
The Discover Our Shared Heritage travel itinerary series includes an itinerary for Washington, D.C. that features nearly 100 historic sites in the city, including The Octagon.

Mount Airy Plantation
Before the Tayloes moved to Washington, D.C., Mount Airy was their home. Built in 1764 by Colonel John Tayloe III's father, this property remains in the Tayloe family to this day. Find out more about the Tayloes and their home in the Rappahannock River valley of Virginia by visiting the Mount Airy website.

American Architectural Foundation
The American Architectural Foundation received a Save America's Treasures grant from the National Park Service in 2005 to restore The Octagon, which it cared for between 1968 and 2009. The AAF website has information about the history of the house and its occupants, plus descriptions of how it used the SAT funding and photographs of the restoration at the historic site.

The Historical Society of Washington, DC
Founded in 1894, the Historical Society of Washington, DC houses many collections of books, pamphlets, photographs, maps, prints, archives, and manuscripts related to the history of the city. Scholars and students may conduct online research or visit the Kiplinger Research Library.

The White House Historical Association
This website provides a wealth of material about the history of the Presidents' Washington, D.C. The site offers information about Paul Jennings, an enslaved African American who worked for the Madisons during the early 19th century, including the article,"Commentary: The Washington of Paul Jennings - White House Slave, Free Man, and Conspirator for Freedom." Jennings lived at The Octagon with the Madisons.

Paul Jennings
PaulJennings.info provides information about Paul Jennings, an enslaved African American and member of President Madison's personal serving staff during the early 19th century. As a free man and government employee in the 1860s, he authored A Colored Man’s Reminiscences of James Madison.

Birth of the Nation: The First Federal Congress 1789-1791
Hosted by the George Washington University, this online exhibit is based on a traveling exhibit first opened in 1989. The online version includes resources about the First Federal Congress, including the Compromise of 1790, the Residence Act, and the Funding Act.

Washington, D.C., Sights and Structures Before 1880
The Library of Congress offers a curated webpage for easy access to the most-popular digitized images, including photographs, maps, drawings, and paintings, of early Washington, D.C. from its Prints & Photographs collection.

The War of 1812 (PBS)
This educational resource about the War of 1812 is sponsored by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It is a supplemental resource for the 2011 film, The War of 1812. The site hosts many rich resources on the history of the War, including essays, a list of historic places affected by the war (including places in the Chesapeake Theater), lesson plans and educator guide, and a link to watch the film online.

This Place Matters by the National Trust
After students identify an important historic place in their community, gather them at the site for a group photo and share it online. The This Place Matters program from the National Trust for Historic Preservation allows you to upload a group photo at the site of a local historic landmark and spread the word about its significance.


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