Picturing Burleith

By Ann Carper

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Burleith is a featured DC neighborhood in this year’s Street Photography Series, a program offered by the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. that includes workshops and guided photo walks designed to encourage documentation of contemporary Washington while also providing the historical context of the city. The aim is to bring together not just photographers but those interested in the histories of DC’s neighborhoods. The program culminates in For the Record, an annual juried contest and exhibition of art and photography that capture Washington’s changing urban landscape.

Led by Burleith resident and professional tour guide Dwane Starlin on Saturday, October 15, from 10 am–1 pm, the Burleith photo walk includes an introduction to the history of the neighborhood; a resource guide to Burleith-related collections accessible through the Historical Society’s Kiplinger Research Library; and tips on compiling the documentation necessary to make participants’ photography a possible resource for their descendants, future historians, and repositories such as the Historical Society. Online advance registration is required. Tickets for each photo walk are $20 for Historical Society members and $30 for non-members, plus handling fees.

Available through Amazon, The 12-page catalog showcases depictions of DC neighborhoods through photographs, paintings, drawings, and other 2-d media.

Available through Amazon, The 12-page catalog showcases depictions of DC neighborhoods through photographs, paintings, drawings, and other 2-d media.

The first For the Record exhibition was in 2015 and accepted submissions from artists and photographers documenting buildings from the DC Preservation League’s list of most endangered places. In 2016, the Historical Society widened the parameters to include DC neighborhoods, the winning results of which are featured in the 2016 exhibition catalogue.

This year, in order to document all eight wards, the organization strove to select a balance of residential and business-related neighborhoods as well as locations that hadn’t changed much but needed documentation or were rapidly changing.

“Burleith was chosen because of the photographic and archival research that Dwane Starlin and Ross Schipper were doing for their Arcadia Publishing book on Burleith,” said Laura Barry, social media coordinator for the Historical Society. The book is expected to be published in 2017.

“I am flattered and honored to have been chosen to lead this tour,” said Starlin. “They also asked me to have a knowledgeable Burleith resident available to speak at a point along the way, so naturally I asked my co-author, Ross, to fill the role.”

The other guided photo walk sites are Howard Town and Pleasant Plains (Ward 1), Palisades (3), Shepherd Park (4), Ivy City (5), Buzzard Point (6, and the site of the city’s new soccer stadium), Kenilworth (7), and Congress Heights (8).

during the 2013 photo Walk, A participant documents the George M. Lightfoot family residence in Brightwood, one of the few remaining dwellings from the old African American community that predated Fort Stevens. Photo by Anne McDonough, © Historical Society of Washington, D.C. 

during the 2013 photo Walk, A participant documents the George M. Lightfoot family residence in Brightwood, one of the few remaining dwellings from the old African American community that predated Fort Stevens. Photo by Anne McDonough, © Historical Society of Washington, D.C. 

“We want all of our Street Photography Series events to attract a variety of attendees, not just residents of the particular neighborhood, but people who are new to DC or want to learn about Washington. Anyone who is interested in photography or wants to learn more about documentary photography is encouraged to join us,” said Barry. She noted that the walks will include tips on how to store and organize digital photo files including documentation suggestions to make attendees’ photography a possible historical resource. “We have lots of photos in our collection that aren’t identified and want to avoid that for researchers in the future,” she added.

Support for the guided photo walks is provided in part by Washington Walks.

Anyone interested in submitting work to For the Record 2017 can do so here.

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