About This Blog
Boundary Stones is a blog about local history in Washington, D.C., suburban Maryland and northern Virginia. On these pages (or pixels!) we'll seek to uncover and share some of the stories that have helped to shape our community over the years. There will be some serious stuff, some light stuff, some photos and eventually maybe even some video. It should be a fun exploration and we hope that you will check back often to read, comment and suggest topics.
So what's with the name Boundary Stones? It's a local history reference, of course! After President George Washington chose the Potomac River region as the site for the new national capital in 1790, surveyors laid out 40 sandstone markers to mark the territory. These stones were inscribed with "District of Columbia" on one side and "Maryland" or "Virginia" on the other side. If it worked for George Washington, it works for us!
A note about our format
On this site, we strive to provide interesting, informative and accurate blog posts based on a variety of reputable sources including history books, articles, websites, interviews, newspaper accounts and primary source materials. However, in most cases, our short-form blog post format does not allow us to research and discuss these topics exhaustively. Quite simply, there is almost always more to the story. We invite comments and suggestions on how our posts can be improved and/or how our treatment of a topic can be expanded. After all, blogs are always better when readers contribute their thoughts and knowledge.
The views posted on Boundary Stones are the views of the authors themselves and do not necessarily represent the views of WETA.
Benjamin Shaw is a history and English major at the University of Maryland. Growing up just outside DC, in Prince George’s County, he was the kid who gave tours of the Smithsonian museums to visiting relatives, and trained to dress up as a docent at the site of the Battle of Bladensburg. He has discovered a passion for research through a variety of recent avenues: first as part of Glen Echo Park’s oral history program, then in a stint at the National Archives sorting oversized materials (Archives II has everything from 70-year-old barley samples to portraits of Hitler from New Jersey), and now at WETA. Ben enjoys hiking, Ursula K. LeGuin, and the DC music scene, and is continually astonished by how little newspaper editorials have changed in the past 200 years.
Claudia Swain's entanglement with local history began in her hometown of Norfolk, VA. Asked to write the history of her high school, Claudia discovered the dusty but always fascinating allure of regional history. She continued her newfound interest as an intern with the National Park Service, working on the Glen Echo Oral History Project. With each successive topic, Claudia gets drawn in deeper- and her friends get even more tired of listening to her go on and on about it.
Jamila Jordan grew up in D.C., which means that she was at the Smithsonian every other weekend and for every class field trip. This early exposure to history and culture inspired a lifelong interest in the subject, particularly in the history of indigenous peoples of different areas. She’s been able to expand upon this somewhat through her travels to various countries. Jamila is excited to do more travelling to learn about the history of different cultures, especially ones that are not well known about. In her free time Jamila enjoys exploring different types of food; the strangest thing she has eaten so far is guinea pig, which was a little chewy and stringy, but not at all bad.
Mark Jones has called the D.C. area home since he was three years old. As a child he enjoyed taking family trips to Colonial Williamsburg and impersonating historical figures for elementary school book reports. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in History from Davidson College and a Master's in History and New Media from George Mason University. Prior to coming to WETA, Mark worked as an interpreter for the National Park Service at Arlington House: The Robert E. Lee Memorial, where (much to the amusement of his friends) he wore the "Smokey the Bear" hat as part of his uniform and occasionally donned period clothes. (Photos are classified.)
Mike Williams discovered his love of American history after viewing Roland Emmerich’s The Patriot in the early 2000s. Since then, he has taken an interest in the backcountry life of South Carolina and hopes to prove how a vigilante group in the 1760s may have contributed to the violence seen in the Carolinas during the American Revolution. Mike attempted a degree in computer science, but learned the hard way that 2 + 2 did not equal 5, so instead he received his Bachelor’s degree in History from George Mason University in 2012. He is currently at GMU pursuing his Master’s in History and New Media, with a focus on American history and the American Revolution. Mike is also an aspiring writer and hopes to one day turn some of his research into compelling historical fiction.
Nick Scalera dates his fascination with history to the day the Bicentennial "Freedom Train" rolled into his hometown of Rochester, NY. Since then, he’s followed a multitude of professional and personal tracks that have ultimately led back to telling stories about the past. Before coming to WETA, Nick produced Web sites, interactive elements, online games and video projects for Discovery Channel, TLC, Science Channel, Military Channel and The Henry Ford, the nation's second largest history museum. He has also worked as a museum archivist and an exhibit developer, producing immersive historical experiences such as an early-20th Century silent movie theater and a 1980s teen bedroom. Scalera has Masters Degrees in History (University of Connecticut) and Information and Library Studies (University of Michigan).
Patrick J. Kiger is a journalist, blogger and author based in the Washington, DC area. He has written for print publications ranging from GQ and Mother Jones to the Los Angeles Times Magazine, and wrote the "Is This a Good Idea?" blog for the Science Channel from 2007-2012. His books include Poplorica: A Popular History of the Fads, Mavericks, Inventions, and Lore that Shaped Modern America, co-authored with Martin J. Smith, which recently was reissued on in a Kindle edition. For more of his work, go to www.patrickjkiger.com or follow him on Twitter @patrickjkiger.
Richard Brownell is the author of numerous books for young audiences on historical and cultural topics. He also writes political commentary and has had his stage plays produced in several cities around the country. He currently resides in New York City, but his home is wherever history has been made. Richard has been an avid reader, researcher, and writer of American history much of his life, and he is always sure to soak up historical sites and stories wherever his travels take him.