November 21, 2011 Rare Historical Sketches of Washington, D.C., Are Subject of Book Discussion

Robert L. Dickinson Drew Capital City in 1917-18

Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221
Contact: Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or
Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or

New York physician Robert L. Dickinson was stationed in Washington during World War I and in his free time was a prolific artist. An avid nature lover, he explored both sides of the Potomac River, sketching the woodsy and idyllic scenery that captured a now-vanished way of life.

His work is the subject of a new book by Gail Dickersin Spilsbury called “A Washington Sketchbook: Drawings by Robert L. Dickinson, 1917-1918” (Chesapeake Book Co., 2011). Spilsbury will discuss and sign her work on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at noon in the Mary Pickford Theater, located on the third floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. This Books & Beyond program is sponsored by the Center for the Book.

All of Dickinson’s drawings in the book are from his “A Washington Walk Book,” which is housed in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress.

In addition to his sketches, Dickinson drew a remarkable map identifying the Potomac’s favorite watering holes, hiking trails and summer campsites. This cultural treasure has been reproduced as a full-size foldout and invites readers to explore Washington’s scenic wonders. The “Sketchbook’s” homage to the capital city’s natural and architectural sights is designed to encourage community involvement in preservation initiatives.

Gail Dickersin Spilsbury is also the author of “Rock Creek Park” (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), and she has been an editor at the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art.

Her book is also the subject of a discussion on Facebook. The Books & Beyond Book Club is available at Here readers can discuss books, the authors of which have appeared or will appear in this series. The site also offers links to webcasts of these events and asks readers to talk about what they have seen and heard.

Since its creation by Congress in 1977 to "stimulate public interest in books and reading," the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress ( has become a major national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages, nationally and internationally. The center provides leadership for 52 affiliated state centers for the book (including the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and nonprofit reading-promotion partners and plays a key role in the Library’s annual National Book Festival. It also oversees the Library’s website and administers the Library’s Young Readers Center.


PR 11-227
ISSN 0731-3527