At a time of Jim Crow ideology and enforced segregation, Woodson pioneered the documentation of African-American life and the recognition of African-American contributions to the nation’s history.
Born to enslaved parents, Woodson was self-educated until he began formal schooling at the age of twenty. He received degrees from Berea College and the University of Chicago, and after several years of teaching, travel, and studies abroad, settled in Washington. In 1912, Woodson became the second African-American (after W.E.B. DuBois) to receive a doctorate from Harvard University. In 1915, he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, with offices in his home, and a year later, the Journal of Negro History.
Before retiring from teaching in 1922, Woodson taught at M Street and Armstrong High Schools, and at Howard University, where he served as Dean of the School of Liberal Arts, and Head of the Graduate Faculty.
In 1926, Woodson was instrumental in creating Negro History Week, still observed as Black History Month. In 1937, he founded the Negro History Bulletin, with the aim of reaching a broader audience than the academic Journal. At the time of his death, he was working on a six-volume Encyclopedia Africana.
Woodson’s three-story Italianate brick rowhouse was built between 1870 and 1874.
National Historic Landmark: May 11, 1976
National Register Listing: May 11, 1976
DC Inventory: March 3, 1979