Uncover the Historical and Cultural Gems of Washington, D.C.

Welcome to the interactive course guide for The Great Tours: Washington, D.C.. Here you will find select content from the course, as well as quizzes, reader polls, interactive maps, further reading suggestions, and more.

The State, Treasury, and Justice Departments

Look into the origins and functions of the State Department, and visit the United States Diplomacy Center, as well as the stellar Diplomatic Reception Rooms. Continue with the Treasury Department’s Federal Reserve buildings, the beautiful Treasury Building, and the operations of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Then take in the fascinating history and headquarters of the FBI. […]

Vietnam War Memorial in D.C.

Veterans Memorials on the Mall

At the first of three iconic war memorials, learn the poignant story behind the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, and how this once controversial monument is now considered a masterpiece. From there, take account of the artistically conceived Korean War Veterans Memorial, and finally the World War II Memorial, and its moving tribute to the “greatest generation.” […]

Arlington Cemetary Washington D.C.

Arlington Cemetery and the Pentagon

Grasp the historic connections between Arlington National Cemetery and the American Civil War. At the cemetery, begin by visiting some of the gravesites of famous citizens and the former mansion of Robert E. Lee. Among the landmark sites there, see the Memorial Amphitheater, the Tomb of the Unknowns, the Marine Corps Memorial, Air Force Memorial, and the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial. […]

Washington's Mount Vernon home

George Washington’s Mount Vernon

At the home and estate of George Washington, trace Washington’s early life, and his inheritance and expansion of the plantation now known as Mount Vernon. Tour the estate, highlighting the impressive interior features of the mansion, a major focal point of social and political life in Virginia. In nearby Alexandria, visit historic sites associated with the life and career of George Washington. […]

Ford Theatre Washington D.C.

Ford’s Theatre and Lincoln’s Washington, D.C.

This lecture considers how the Civil War and the Lincoln presidency transformed the city. Among key sites of the era, explore the historic Willard Hotel and its dramatic connection with Lincoln; Fort Stevens and its wartime role; the Clara Barton House museum; and the Lincoln Cottage, the “summer White House.” Then visit Ford’s Theatre, the site and memorial of the Lincoln assassination. […]

MLK Memorial Statue in Washington D.C.

Washington’s Civil Rights Landmarks

Witness the impact of the Civil Rights movement on Washington, D.C., beginning with the life and work of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and visit the historic site of his home. As the focus of this lecture, take an in-depth tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, its major galleries, and 36,000 artifacts that tell the nation’s story through the lens of the black experience. […]

Richard Kurin Photo

Presented by Professor Richard Kurin, Ph.D.
Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large
Richard Kurin is the Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar and Ambassadorat-Large, the first person in the history of the Smithsonian Institution to hold that title. He received his BA in Anthropology and Philosophy from the University at Buffalo, and he earned both his MA and his PhD in Anthropology from The University of Chicago. During his graduate studies, Dr. Kurin was awarded a FulbrightHays Doctoral Dissertation fellowship and a Social Science Research Council fellowship.