Capitol Hill Restoration Society

Overbeck Lecture: Donald Ritchie on Emily Edson Briggs of The Maples

Posted on November 4th, 2015

On Monday, November 9, 2015 at 7:30 p.m., U.S. Senate historian emeritus Donald Ritchie will present an Overbeck History Lecture on Briggs’s life and times.

In the late nineteenth century, visitors at The Maples, the grand old home on South Carolina Avenue, SE, that later became Friendship House and now, a multi-unit residential development, would have been greeted by the indomitable Emily Edson Briggs. A leading hostess of the day, Briggs won fame and fortune by writing a colorful, irreverent newspaper column under the pen name “Olivia.” She presented the Washington political scene as social entertainment, skewering inflated egos and pushing for women’s suffrage some fifty years ahead of its achievement.

Ritchie is the author of several books including Reporting from Washington: A History of the Washington Press Corps and Press Gallery: Congress and the Washington Correspondents, which includes a chapter on Briggs.

The event will be held at Hill Center and admission is free, thanks to the Capitol Hill Community Foundation, which founded the Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project to give local residents a deeper understanding of their neighborhood. To reserve seating, visit or call (202) 549-4172.