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A Community Exploring Its Past

While most Americans probably think of Capitol Hill as simply the site of the U.S. Capitol, those who live here know it as an old and thriving residential neighborhood, a small town within a large city. The Overbeck Project captures the history of this community by recording the recollections of its longtime residents and preserving other records of its fascinating past.

Project volunteers collect and transcribe interviews for posting on this site. We also sponsor a highly successful lecture series exploring our city's history. We urge you too to get involved in this exciting effort, sponsored by the Capitol Hill Community Foundation.

The Overbeck Project realizes we'll never be able to interview all potential candidates, so we're delighted to incorporate other pertinent interviews into our collection; links to material already available elsewhere on the Internet are of particular interest. Readers are encouraged to send us suggestions.

Eastern Market: The Rebuilding
Langley Bowers' Video Available on YouTube

We are delighted to share online for the first time Eastern Market: The Rebuilding, a powerful 20 minute video created and produced in 2009 by Langley Bowers as part of the Overbeck Project's efforts to record first-hand accounts of the 2007 fire that devastated the Market building -- but not the Market itself or the spirit of the neighborhood.

Supported by the Capitol Hill Community Foundation, Capitol Hill native Langley, then a recent graduate of the University of Delaware, recorded reactions to the fire by both vendors and neighbors, then followed the process of the Market's amazing reincarnation. Langley interviewed many of the same people whose oral history transcripts are collected as Eastern Market Voices on this website. He also incorporated original video of the 2007 fire, old and new photos of the Market, and scenes from the Market's June 26, 2009, grand re-opening ceremony. Ian Walters composed a jazz piano score to accompany and dramatize the visual images.

DVDs copies of this video are available for sale at Riverby Books, 417 East Capitol Street SE.

Transcripts Recently Added

During October, 2015, transcripts of interviews with the following eight people were added to the Overbeck Project website. We think you'll find these people worth getting to know. Collectively, their stories cover 100 years, from Dorothy Hawkins' birth in 1915 to present day Capitol Hill. With these additions, there are now 181 interview transcripts available on this website.

Pete Eveleth. Pete Eveleth's interview represents yet another addition to our Eastern Market Voices page, because his 10 year service as an ANC 6B commissioner, starting with the very first ANC in 1974, put him on the front lines of the Market Wars of that period.

Bill Glasgow.Bill Glasgow was interviewed in 2009 when we focused on Eastern Market. This second interview took place in 2011 when he was awarded a Community Achievement Award for his leadership role representing the South Hall vendors at the Market.

Dorothy Hawkins. Dorothy was born in 1915, across Marion Park from the police station. Her interview provides fascinating details of life in the early 20th century including descriptions of homes and gardens and scenes of police confiscating liquor during Prohibition. Old family photos in the transcript include one of the outdoor water closet, fitted with modern plumbing, that stood near the back porch of her parents' home.

Margaret Hollister. This interview with Margaret Hollister covers her almost 45 years living on Ninth Street SE, her career as a social worker, personal experiences and challenges, and her active role with Friends of the Southeast Library, which eventually led to the building's finally getting acceptable restrooms.

Gladys Kraft. Dr. Gladys Kraft worked as the only professional social worker at Friendship House from 1946 to 1950 and then served on the Board until 1968. The transcript includes her memories of Friendship House founder Lydia Burklin and a fascinating description of the early operations of that settlement house.

Lane Parsons. When the Barney Circle Neighborhood Watch Association set out to document the history of the Barney Circle neighborhood, Lane Parsons was able to supply detailed information, because he grew up in that area during the 1920s and 30s. Memories of the Bonus Army and John Philip Sousa's funeral are included.

Duncan Spencer. As a Hill resident since 1965, Duncan Spencer has seen many changes. As parent to two sets of children, he is well aware of how those changes have affected life in the neighborhood. Duncan's interview also includes unique insights based on his years as a journalist, including stories from his years working for the Evening Star prior to its demise.

Daniel Waterman. For over 35 years, Dr. Daniel Waterman practiced medicine on Capitol Hill before his retirement at the beginning of 2014. Though he never lived in the neighborhood, he became an integral part of it by virtue of his practice, and many patients experienced an outpouring of emotion when he retired. This interview covers his life, his practice, and his comments about changes that have made medicine "not as much fun" anymore.

Items Found Elsewhere on This Website 

Ten Interviews Done in the 1970s

1947 Photos Donated to the Overbeck Project

1967 Drawing Donated to the Overbeck Project

Were You There? Remembering the 1963 March on Washington

301 East Capitol Street: Tales from the Heart of the Hill

  Photo courtesy of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. Not to be reproduced without permission.
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The Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project, Washington, D.C.