Class Year


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Blog Post

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Department 1

Civil War Institute


This post is part of a series featuring behind-the-scenes dispatches from our Pohanka Interns on the front lines of history this summer as interpreters, archivists, and preservationists. Seehere for the introduction to the series.

Submerged into the side of a grassy hill are two large white doors. As one looks at Fort Stevens from a distance, the doors seem misplaced. They randomly appear in a visitor’s line of sight as he/she examines the curves and dips of the earthwork before them. But these doors tell a much more interesting story than might be expected. To the left of these doors once stood the home of Elizabeth Proctor Thomas, a free African American woman, whose family originally owned eighty-eight acres of land in the Brightwood area of Washington, DC. At a time of few economic opportunities for the African American community, having this land was an important part of being self-sustaining. On this high ground, Thomas’s family farmed and sold parts of their holdings to relatives and other African American families. [excerpt]


This blog post originally appeared in The Gettysburg Compiler and was created by students at Gettysburg College.