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The Interior Library is proud to present a series of programs on the background and history of sites of interest in the Washington, D.C. region, as well as subjects highlighting the history of the United States.  The 45-minute programs, presented by National Park Service Rangers, are held in the Stewart L. Udall Department of the Interior Building

To register for a future Park Ranger Speaker Series program, please click here. For more information about our Park Ranger Speaker Series programs, please contact the Interior Library by phone at (202) 208-5815 or e-mail at library@ios.doi.gov.

Additional Park Ranger Speaker Series programs will be posted as they are scheduled. Please check this page regularly for changes or updates.
The Election of 1864
Tuesday, October 21, 2014, 1:00 pm - 1:45 pm

It is hard for modern Americans to believe that Abraham Lincoln, one of history's most beloved Presidents, was nearly defeated in his reelection attempt in 1864. Yet by that summer, Lincoln himself feared he would lose. The country had not elected an incumbent President for a second term since Andrew Jackson in 1832.  Also, his embrace of emancipation was still a problem for many Northern voters.  Despite Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg a year earlier, the Southern armies came back fighting with a vengeance. During three months in the summer of 1864, over 65,000 Union soldiers were killed, wounded, or missing-in-action.  With the balance of the American Civil War hanging on a uncomfortable edge, President Lincoln needed military successes to secure victory over the Democratic challenger, George B. McClellan, the former commander of the Army of the Potomac.

Please join Park Ranger Paul O'Brian as he examines how President Lincoln won in 1864.  Was it General Sheridan's campaign in the Shenandoah Valley?  Or was it General Sherman's March to the Sea? The answers to these questions and more will be discussed in "The Election of 1864."

Election of 1864

A Pretty Team! - Rascality and Stupidity: Refighting Gettysburg
Tuesday, November 18, 2014, 1:00 pm – 1:45 pm

To what famous Civil War figures did contemporaries apply the words “rascality” and “stupidity” and for what reasons? Certainly, the battle actions around Gettysburg, Pennsylvania produced great bloodshed but they also generated an unabated, fierce storm of debate. Many historians rightly aver that veterans spilled more ink than blood defending Gettysburg. Washington, D.C. certainly played a huge role in that fight as Gettysburg figured prominently in the minds of political figures who sought answers as well as scapegoats. High-ranking Union general officers came to the nation’s capital to defend their actions and answer accusations of incompetence, cowardice and potential treason. Come listen to tales of rascality and stupidity as we demonstrate that Washington, D.C. always provided a stage for venom and vitriol.

We invite you to join Park Ranger Michael T. Kelly as he discusses the enduring struggle to interpret the Battle of Gettysburg—even after 150 years.


The Matter of Peace: The Little Known Symbols of Peace on the National Mall
Tuesday, December 16, 2014, 1:00 pm – 1:45 pm

Celebrate the 200th anniversary of the December 24, 1814 signing of the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812, with a virtual tour of the many symbols of peace at the National Mall and Memorial Parks. Eclipsed by the Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and World War II Memorial are persistent reminders of Washington's fervent "first wish...to see the whole world in peace, and the Inhabitants of it as one band of brothers, striving who should contribute most to the happiness of mankind." Revisit Pierre L’Enfant’s vision for the National Mall to serve as a platform where, over time, we would build reminders of civic virtue, our goal of freedom and equality, and the justice requisite for peace.

We invite you to join Park Ranger Jan Bueger as she discusses and takes a virtual trip with you to the little known and often forgotten symbols of peace that can be found scattered across the National Mall.