THE 3-MINUTE INTERVIEW: Matthew Gilmore

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People,Naomi Jagoda

Gilmore is chairman of the 39th Annual Conference on D.C. Historical Studies. The conference will take place Thursday to Sunday at various locations in the District. For more information, visit annualconferencedchistoricalstudies.wordpress.com.

What is the D.C. Historical Studies Conference?

We're an opportunity for the historical community, essentially, to present their interesting research to the historical community and to the community at large. We cover the gamut of historical topics. ... We have students, we have people who've published books, we have people who are going to publish books, doctoral students, master's students, professional historians, amateur historians -- pretty much the whole community can participate.

What do you think is the most important event in D.C. history?

The most important event in D.C. history is George Washington choosing the site of the capital back in the 1790s, actually placing the capital here. That's what started it all.

Why is it important to learn about D.C. history?

If you’re a newcomer to the city, it will help you understand the city. Help you understand the various communities in the city. ...People are always interested in, and it kind of builds out from, they may move to a place they may want to find out about the house they live in, the neighborhood. ... Your house may have been built some time ago. Who lived in it? How has the neighborhood changed around it, and how does that fit into the whole history of the city? Newcomers want to learn about where they are now.

People who have been here a long time can contribute to the understanding of how we got where we are and where we may be going. There's always discussion about historic preservation and urban renewal and development of the city, so if you don't have an appreciation of how we got where we are, it can be difficult to understand what you want to save and how you want to save it.

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