one house, five families, 200 years of history

Within These Walls

This website is based on an exhibition that opened at the National Museum of American History in May 2001. Objects pictured here may differ from those currently on view at the museum.


Discover five of the families who lived in this house from the colonial era to World War II.

They weren’t famous, but the choices they made shaped their community and the nation.

the Choates

American Colonists 1757—1772

For Abraham and Sarah Choate, this house was a sign of prosperity in a thriving New England community.

the Dodges and Chance Bradstreet

Revolutionaries 1777—1789

The Dodges' household and the nation faced fateful questions about freedom.

the Caldwells

Reformers 1835—1865

In the parlor of their home, the Caldwells joined the battle against slavery.

the Lynches

Immigrants 1870—1890

Irish immigrant Catherine Lynch and her daughter Mary rented this house as a home and workplace.

the Scotts

Home Front 1941—1945

Mary Scott and her family shared the nation's struggle during World War II.