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Posted at 2:52 PM ET, 01/ 7/2009

Get Your History On

By Julia Beizer

In an inaugural season filled with the glamour of parties and galas, there are plenty of other to-dos around town that stimulate the inquisitive soul. Here, we recommend this list of tamer -- but equally intriguing -- events that allow you to dip into this country's rich presidential history. Unless noted, all are free.

Jan. 7
Jon Meacham at Politics and Prose
The Newsweek editor talks about his book, "American Lion," which focuses on Andrew Jackson, a "divisive" and lesser-known president.

Opening Jan. 9
Preparing for the Ball: Costume of the Early Nation
Before cocktail dresses, there were waistcoats and embroidered ballgowns. Look back at early American fashion in this exhibit of historic evening wear and accessories at the Dumbarton House. Admission is $5.

Jan. 11
Aaron Glantz at Busboys and Poets
The journalist presents his rebuke of the U.S. government's treatment of veterans returning from war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jan. 13
Scout Tufankjian at Barnes and Noble on 12th Street
The independent photographer signs her book of snapshots that cover Barack Obama's campaign from start to finish.

Jan. 16
Deborah Willis at Borders on K Street
Photo historian Deborah Willis shares her new book, written with Washington Post editor Kevin Merida, documenting Obama's campaign through photographs.

Jan. 17
Songs for Presidents at Sixth and I
The nonprofit Bands for Lands hosts a music-filled celebration for the president. The group uses music to promote conservation and social awareness. Tickets are $16 in advance and $20 on the day of the show.

Jan. 18
Ken Burns at Sixth and I
The renowned documentary filmmaker explores race in America through selected clips of his work. He'll lead a panel discussion at the synagogue. Admission is $6.

Opening Jan. 20
Presidents in Waiting at the National Portrait Gallery
Learn about Joe Bidens of yore in this new exhibit, which places the spotlight on the men second in command.

Feb. 2
Howard Zinn at Busboys and Poets
It may be after the inauguration, but well worth the wait to hear the distinguished historian's thoughts on the current state of the nation. Busboys's readiness to reserve the full restaurant bespeaks the author's esteem in the literary world.

-- Winyan Soo Hoo

By Julia Beizer  | January 7, 2009; 2:52 PM ET
 
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