Civil War and Reconstruction- A D.C. Tour with MU Students

The White House, Ford’s Theatre, the Renwick Gallery, and many more historic sites were all stops on tours designed by students in Professor Cassandra Good’s Civil War and Reconstruction course. Working in small groups, students crafted walking tours in various neighborhoods in the DC area that highlighted events and themes from the Civil War era. They worked over the course of the semester to research historic buildings and how they have changed over time, find historic images, and unearth stories tied to specific places.

The class gathered first in Lafayette Square and then in Chinatown for student-led tours that brought the Civil War era to life in these neighborhoods. Students used their knowledge of major political, economic, and social developments to provide historical perspectives on everything from well-known buildings like the White House to long-gone structures such as a major hospital at what is now Judiciary Square. Many students noted that they would never look at the city the same way again “and were eager to explore further.”

This course is part of Marymount’s new minor in public history, which prepares students for careers in archives, historic sites, and museums. Such hands-on learning also benefits the history department’s many students preparing to be history teachers, providing them with experience in teaching their classmates, public speaking, and creative approaches to student assessment. The opportunity to do independent research and apply material to a real-world setting that uses the extraordinary resources of Washington, DC exemplifies Marymount’s commitment to help students learn with purpose.