From Slave Ship to Harvard and Hollywood on the Potomac April Book Signing Lectures

March 3, 2013

The U.S. Capitol Historical Society will host two book signing lectures in April featuring a recent study of six generations of an African American family in Washington, DC and Maryland and a new book on how Hollywood has depicted the nation’s capital.

On Wednesday, April 17, the U.S. Capitol Historical Society hosts the latest in its series of noontime book signing lectures in Ketchum Hall of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Building at 200 Maryland Avenue, NE. The lecture is free and open to the public.  Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing by the author.

From Slave Ship to Harvard, published last year by Fordham University Press, is the true story of an African American family in Maryland over six generations. Author James H. Johnston, a Washington, DC attorney, has reconstructed a unique narrative of black struggle and achievement from paintings, photographs, books, diaries, court records, legal documents, and oral histories. From Slave Ship to Harvard traces the family from the colonial period and the American Revolution through the Civil War to Harvard and finally today.  Yarrow Mamout, the first of the family in America, was an educated Muslim from Guinea. He was brought to Maryland on the slave ship Elijah and gained his freedom forty-four years later. By then, Yarrow had become so well known in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C., that he attracted the attention of the eminent American portrait painter Charles Willson Peale, who captured Yarrow’s visage in the painting that appears on the cover of this book. The author here reveals that Yarrow’s immediate relatives-his sister, niece, wife, and son-were notable in their own right. His son married into the neighboring Turner family, and the farm community in western Maryland called Yarrowsburg was named for Yarrow Mamout’s daughter-in-law, Mary “Polly” Turner Yarrow. The Turner line ultimately produced Robert Turner Ford, who graduated from Harvard University in 1927.

Just as Peale painted the portrait of Yarrow, James H. Johnston’s new book puts a face on slavery and paints the history of race in Maryland. It is a different picture from what most of us imagine. Relationships between blacks and whites were far more complex, and the races more dependent on each other. Fortunately, as this one family’s experience shows, individuals of both races repeatedly stepped forward to lessen divisions and to move America toward the diverse society of today.

Secure Online Registration for April 17 Book Signing Lecture

On Wednesday, April 24, the U.S. Capitol Historical Society will host a book signing lecture by author Mike Canning on his new book, Hollywood on the Potomac: How the Movies view Washington, D.C. The lecture will be held in Ketchum Hall of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Building at 200 Maryland Avenue, NE.  The event is free and open to the public.  Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing by the author.

Hollywood on the Potomac surveys 58 films from the sound era (1930-2011). Since the book  is published by a Capitol Hill-based enterprise, it gives special emphasis to movies made on or about Capitol Hill (especially films treating the U.S. Congress). Each film is described with credits and cast, a synopsis, and production data. Critical views of the films and locations where they were shot are also included. Also noted are “goofs” or errors in how the film presents the city.

Mike Canning, the author, has reviewed movies for the Hill Rag newspaper for almost 20 years. A former Foreign Service Officer for 28 years, he is also a freelance writer on film, public affairs, and politics. His lecture will include still photographs and selected clips from some of the movies he will discuss.

Secure On-line Registration for April 24 Book Signing Lecture

Pre-registration is recommended for both events.  Email uschs @uschs.orgor phone 202-543-8919×38.