Ruth Ann Overbeck papers & Washington Perspectives, Inc. records
Collection Scope and Content
The material in this collection is a terrific representation of the breadth and depth of work done by Ruth Ann Overbeck as a historian in D.C. for thirty years. The collection has material for many projects from house histories for individual homeowners to a survey of the Upper Cardozo Columbia Heights neighborhood with oral histories and surveys of buildings such as the Tivoli Theater.
The collection will prove to be extremely useful for researchers exploring topics related to Washington, D.C. history. The D.C. Research Subseries within the Research Materials Series primarily includes notes, citations, and photocopies gathered by Ruth Ann and other W.P.I. employees for specific research projects. Often times the final product especially the house histories is included in the folders.
The collection does not contain much information about the administrative side of W.P.I. Series VII: W.P.I. Administration Records does have a small amount of financial records, but it is clearly only a sampling. The research records, however, do provide a picture of the types of projects undertaken by W.P.I. and the methods and efforts used by Ruth Ann Overbeck and the other W.P.I. historians.
The bulk dates for the collection material range from approximately 1970 through 1995. The collection measures 46 clamshells, 1 oversize box, and 23 map tubes. The total size is approximately 28 linear feet. The collection is arranged in seven series. Within each series the material is arranged alphabetically by folder title. The house histories are arranged by address.
- Overbeck, Ruth Ann (Person)
Restrictions on Access
Some records may be restricted.
Restrictions on Use
Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.
Historical or Biographical Note
Ruth Ann Overbeck founded Washington Perspectives, Inc. (W.P.I.) in 1975. The purpose of the organization as stated in the articles of incorporation was " to conduct research, plan, and implement various cultural, historical, social and education programs, including, but not limited to, conducting guided tours, preparing historical and other reports, and to carry out any other activities within the general scope of the above." The diversity of projects within this collection demonstrates that the firm achieved this purpose.
Most of the success of W.P.I. is attributable to Ruth Ann Overbeck. Ruth Ann first visited Washington, D.C. in the 1950s while still in high school in Texas. She attended college in Texas, but always planned to return to Washington. She did this in 1968, purchasing a house on Capitol Hill, and living in that home until her death in April 2000.
Ruth Ann's work as a historic preservation consultant and as the president of W.P.I. earned her a reputation as a thoughtful and dedicated scholar. She wrote numerous articles and worked on many reports for the D.C. government and community agencies. She conducted numerous walking tours of D.C., founded the preservation trust, a façade easement trust, and served on many boards including Friendship House Association, Inc. and Capitol Hill Restoration Society. One of her final acts as an historian was to be interviewed for an oral history project about her experiences researching, working, and living in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Ruth Ann had planned to write a book about Capitol Hill, but did not have the opportunity. The oral history project was her way to record her vast knowledge of Capitol Hill and Washington D.C. history and make it accessible to researchers.
The donation made in April 2000, followed by another accretion June 2003, to the George Washington University of these historical records represents Ruth Ann and Robert Hughes' efforts to accomplish the same objective. This collection and the work that will certainly come from its use by researchers is a fitting tribute to Ruth Ann Overbeck and allows her contribution to Washington history to continue.
31 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
Collection documents the breath and depth of work done by Ruth Ann Overbeck as a historian in D.C. for thirty years. The collection has material for many projects from house histories for individual homeowners to a survey of the Upper Cardozo Columbia Heights neighborhood with oral histories and surveys of buildings such as the Tivoli Theater.
Organized into seven series: Biographical Information; Brochures; Graphics; Maps, plats, and blueprints; Publications; Research Material and Washington Perspectives Incorporation (W.P.I.) Administrative Records.
Gift of Robert Hughes, 1998.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Transfer from Tanya Edwards Beauchamp, 2019 February (Accession 2019.006).
These records came to Tanya from Robert Hughes the donor of the Ruth Ann Overbeck papers. In February 2019 Tanya Edwards Beauchamp tranferred two large boxes of materials related to the Anacostia Park history project Ruth Ann Overbeck was working on, but was unable to finish due to illness and ultimately her death. These records are in boxes 69-73.
Reparative Description Project
This finding aid was revised in 2022 to address harmful descriptive language related or disability identified in several folder titles. The terminology was in publication titles. As this description was provided by the record creator(s) the description was not edited or removed, but additional information was provided in an Historic Context note at each folder level in order to add context. A copy of the finding aid prior to these reivsions was retained. To view that finding aid please use Pre-revision November. 2022 finding aid of Ruth Ann Overbeck papers & Washington Perspectives, Inc. records
- Blueprints (reprographic copies) Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Historians Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Historic preservation Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Maps Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Maryland Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Overbeck, Ruth Ann
- Plats (maps) Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Transportation maps Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Washington (D.C.) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Washington (D.C.) -- History Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Washington Perspectives, Inc.
- Guide to the Ruth Ann Overbeck papers & Washington Perspectives, Inc. records, 1663-2007
- Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English