Happy 10th birthday to Washington Area Spark!

24 Jan
Group Photo of Strikers # 4

Photos of a 1973 steelworkers union strike against Mineral Pigment in Beltsville, Md. were the first images uploaded to our Flickr site.

On January 2, 2011, the first photos were uploaded to the Washington Area Spark Flickr site—images of a 1973 strike by the United Steelworkers of America Local 12328 against the Mineral Pigment Company in Beltsville, Md.

The first photos published online were from the vintage Washington Area Spark/On The Move newspaper published from 1972-75 followed by images of change-makers and would be change-makers in the greater Washington, D.C. area from various sources that have now grown to 4,750 images—each containing the date, location and a detailed description of the event or person portrayed.

A website was added in 2012 that features occasional in-depth blog posts of D.C. radical history and contains PDFs of historical documents and periodicals as well as a subject guide to images.

New milestones for Washington Area Spark sites:

  • Our Flickr photo page now has over 4,750 images with over 7.4 million photo views
  • Our blog site set a record in 2020 with nearly 21,000 views of posts during the year
  • The blog site also recorded over 11,500 document and periodicals downloads in 2020
  • Our Facebook page now has over 1,000 followers.

Re-visit the site as new photos, documents and occasional blog posts are added throughout the year.


Five to leave D.C. on first Freedom Ride: 1961

Freedom Riders prepare to leave D.C. in May 1961 during their attempt to integrate interstate buses..

The heart of our effort is the images that bring history to life. Browse our images that date from the 1860s through the 1980s for what’s interesting to you:

Our blog posts can also be accessed a number of different ways. Features located on the right side of the website (at the bottom of the page on mobile) include links to:

  • Recent posts (newest to oldest)
  • Top posts and pages (recently popular)
  • Archives (select decade of interest
  • Search (enter a keyword for the subject you’re interested in)
  • Additionally, you may browse by subject in the Navigation tab at the top of the page (subjects are listed alphabetically).

Our documents

Original flyers, leaflets, broadsides, pamphlets and other materials related to change-makers in the Washington, D.C. area have been turned into PDFs and can be accessed on the Documents tab at the top of the page. They are listed by subject alphabetically and within each subject by date. Documents range from the 1930s through the 1980s.

Our periodicals

Quicksilver Times (almost) complete collection: 1969-72

The Quicksilver Times collection is missing only one issue.

Alternative newspapers, newsletters and other periodicals relevant to the struggle for progressive change have been turned into PDFs and are available on the Periodicals sub-page. They are organized by category and then alphabetically within each category. Alternative newspapers include Washington Area Spark, Washington Free Press and Quicksilver Times, GI press, Black liberation and civil rights periodicals and many other areas. Strengths of the collection are the 1960s and 70s.

Image use

We’re often contacted about the use of photographs posted on the Spark site. Please check the rights usage located below the image on the right side (if you are using a desktop or laptop) and the image’s source located at the end of the image description.

We hold the rights to about 500 of our 4,750 images, another 1,500 or so are public domain or their use is permitted for non-commercial use. The rights to the rest are held by others that you will need to contact for permission to publish and fees, if any. If you are seeking low/no cost non-commercial use of images labeled “all rights reserved,” pay particular attention to the D.C. Library Washington Star Collection. Permission to publish these images is usually free for non-profit use. If you have trouble finding an image or determining the rights, please contact us and we’ll try to help at Washington_area_spark@yahoo.com.








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