Exploring Brochures – Deanwood A Model of Self-Sufficiency in Far Northeast Washington, D.C.

✍️🏼Sophia V. Nelson

I was recently gifted a selection of Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum exhibitions and other DC History brochures. On the surface, these are simply brochures but take a closer look, and you’ll find that they are little windows to the past. Join us as we explore these brochures throughout Black History Month.

The Deanwood History Project brochure – published in 2005. The project interprets the history of the Deanwood neighborhood located in Northeast Washington, DC.

Brochure cover. It features a photo of “residents at the groundbreaking for First Baptist Church of Deanwood’s second building in 1909.”

Image 2: video clip from “Deanwood Oral History Project – A Self Reliant People” produced by HumanitiesDC (full-length video is available on YouTube).

Close up of page 9. The page is titled “Earning Our Daily Bread” and includes details about the types of businesses Deanwood residents owned and operated. Project researchers referred to the Simms Blue Book and National Negro Business and Professional Directory to determine that in 1944 Deanwood had a dry cleaner, filling station, auto repair shops, beauty shops, a record store, and more.

Founder of the National Training School for Women and Girls (1909), Nannie Helen Burroughs is one of several notable African Americans that lived in the Deanwood neighborhood.

One of Washington DC’s oldest African American communities, Deanwood, comprises “Victorian, neoclassical, colonial, revival, prairie, and craftsman” houses. These homes were designed and constructed by African American architects.

Architect H.D. Woodson, for whom a DC High School is named after, resided in the community. Along with a few other investors, H.D. Woodson founded the Universal Development and Loan Company. The group designed and established Suburban Gardens Amusement Park, which catered to African Americans during segregation.

A digital copy of the Deanwood brochure is available on https://planning.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/op/publication/attachments/Deanwood_%2520Brochure.pdf

(Audio Interview+) Ritual and Recall: A Discussion with Anthony McKissic

In this interview with Anthony McKissic, we talk about ritual and recall in Black art and Black spaces. A resident of Baltimore, Maryland, McKissic was born and raised in Washington, DC. A part of his cultural upbringing is rooted in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and Chattanooga, Tennessee. He attended Morgan State University and the Maryland Institute College of Art. McKissic is currently pursuing a doctorate in English from Morgan State University while continuing to teach with Baltimore City Schools.

McKissic talks up Blues artists Jr. Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside, and Cotton Patch Soul Blues a form of Blues music with roots in Mississippi.

Included here are links to a couple of the Blues artists that McKissic is inspired by:

R.L. Burnside and family. R.L. Burnside on guitar, Burnside’s grandson on drums. Song title, “Boogie Instrumental”

[source: YouTube, Alan Lomax Collection]

“I Came to Praise His Name” by Leo Bud Welch [source: YouTube, Easy Eye Sound]

(Photos) James Brown’s Augusta, Georgia

Street corner. Colorful mural featuring various images of James Brown.
Colorful James Brown mural on Broad Street in Augusta, Georgia

One thing about Augusta, they gonna show mad love for brother James Brown.

Go to “Get up offa that thing” and get down there for the James Brown Augusta, Georgia city tour: jamesbrownfamilyfdn.org

Savannah River. Augusta Canal. Columbia County, Georgia.

Notes and Sources on the Life of Sara Bickford, Entrepreneur (1852 – 1931)



August – October 2020  

Kelly McCoy 1.9.21

Sara Gammon Brown Bickford (1852 – 1931) was the first Black woman to own a utility company. Born into slavery in 1852, she was separated from her parents when they were sold, and she never saw them again. The video below will weave you through the life of Sara Bickford. A Black woman who became the sole owner of Virginia City Water Company in Virginia City, Montana.

Below are suggested sources to begin your dive into the life of Sara Gammon Brown Bickford

I. Historic Sites  

 A) Virginia City, Madison County, Montana  

 1. https://virginiacitymt.com/ 

 2. PDF Map of City  

 B) Sara Bickford’s House (a.k.a Romey’s Gardens) in Virginia City City, Madison County,  Montana. The property lies 4 Blocks East of intersection of Fair-weather and Idaho  Streets. Cannot locate the specific street number or name. 

 1. https://historicmt.org/items/show/894.  

 C) Hangman’s Building (a.k.a. Virginia City Water Company) – the public utility that she owned and operated. 125 West Wallace Street, Virginia City , Madison County, Montana  1. https://mhs.mt.gov/Portals/11/shpo/AfricanAmerican/PropertyRecords/24MA2392.pdf  

II. Internet and Books that helped me to shape my story 

 A) Finding Sara Gammon Bickford by Bill Peterson, Ph.D. and Orlan Svingen, Ph.D.   Researcher Ph.D. student Laura J. Arata – 2009 

 1. https://sarahbickford.org/ 

 B) Sara Gammon Bickford – Marlette C.Lacey on BlackPast.org – 2007  1. https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/bickford-sarah-gammon-1855-1931/  2. Book “ From Slave To Water Magnate: the Story of Sarah Bickford”  

 C) Women’s History – Montana’s African American Heritage 

 1. https://mhs.mt.gov/Shpo/AfricanAmericans/Womens-History 

 D) Celebrating Sarah Gammon Bickford – Montana Women’s History – 2014   1. http://montanawomenshistory.org/celebrating-sarah-gammon-bickford/ 

III. Other resources folks might find helpful to learn more 

 A) Book “ Race and the Wild West Sara Bickford, The Montana Vigilantes, and the Tourism  of Decline 1870 – 1930” by Laura J. Arata , University of Oklahoma Press 2020.   This book is Volume 17 in the Race and Culture in the American Press – Edited by  Quintard Taylor, Historian and Professor Emeritus of American History University of   Washington, and founder of BlackPast.org.  

B) Currently there are no documentary films featuring Sara Gammon Bickford 

Video and Source List Provided by: Kelly McCoy, Producer/Content Creator  

Kelly McCoy is the founder of G.E.A.R. Shop Collective, specializing in researching,  illuminating, and amplifying culture and heritage of BIPOC communities. Passionate about  creating and curating inclusive, diverse and equitable community-based experiences. Connect with her about cultural heritage and adventure tourism experiences, adventures in the natural  environment, and crocheting on Linked In or G.E.A.R.ShopCollective

Black woman park ranger. Sitting in front of Frederick Douglass' house. The house is white in the background. The house has a huge tree next to it. The children are looking at the Black woman park ranger with interest.

(Grades 1 – 12) Frederick Douglass NHS Virtual Oratorical Contest and Video Contest January 2021: Applications Due 12/18/20

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site – opportunity for students

Via NPS.gov:

Annually, the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site hosts a live oratorical contest at the site where students perform a part of a Frederick Douglass speech that they learn from memory from the stage in the park’s auditorium. This year due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions, we cannot host this event live, but we have two exciting options for the 2020 contest, so you can still participate!

Contest Rules and Additional Information

Virtual Oratorical Contest This option is open to grades 1 – 12

Virtual Oratorical Contest Guidelines

Guidelines for Video This option is open to grades 6 – 12 


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From 2017 – 2020, public historian Sophia V. Nelson, documented the following images which are included in this video:

• Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jr. statue at Los Angeles Staples Center

• Professor and Cultural Historian, Jamal Tourè, performing at 2018 Sugar Cane Festival in Riceboro, Georgia

• Zora Neale Hurston historic market in St. Augustine, Florida

• Martin Luther King, Jr. Street Walking Tour in Selma, Alabama

• 2017 Juneteenth Celebration in Atlanta, Georgia

• Display at Pocahontas Island Museum in Petersburg, Virginia

• Ray Charles Memorial in Albany, Georgia • 2016 John Coltrane International Jazz & Blues Festival hat

• Re-enactors and guests at Fort Mose Historic State Park in St. Augustine, Florida

**Content contributor submission, Jenn P. in Brooklyn, New York

• Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Birth Home in Atlanta, Georgia

• Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Collected on the day of late Congressman John Lewis funeral service

• National Voting Rights Museum roadway sign (Selma, Alabama)

• Jackson Ward Historic District mural in Richmond, Virginia

• Hippodrome Theater in Richmond, Virginia

• African American Civil War Museum in Washington, DC with visitor Geronimo C.

• Spirituals album part of The Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission collection

• a guest at the Nat Turner Library annual Black Books Awards & Festival. The library is located in Petersburg, Virginia