The Arlington Historical Society, founded in 1956, is a nonprofit educational organization incorporated under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The goal of the Arlington Historical Society is to conduct research and to preserve and disseminate knowledge relating to the history, archaeology, material culture, and geographical and socio-economic development of Arlington County, Virginia.
The society works toward this goal through its historic resources, including two historic properties and its artifact collection; original historical research and publications; the discovery, collection, preservation and exhibition of artifacts; and the presentation and dissemination of knowledge on the local history of Arlington County free to the public. (Mission statement approved by the AHS Board of Directors on January 12, 1998.)
Arlington Historical Society programs are designed to advance this goal:
- Two museums open free to the public
- The Arlington Historical Museum is the oldest school house in the county. It is open year round to the public with exhibits that span Native America through 9/11 . The museum also offers quarterly temporary exhibits focused on specific aspects of Arlington County history.
- The Ball-Sellers House Museum, the oldest building in the county, offers a docent-led tour Saturday afternoons from April through October as well as summer holidays. This colonial era farm house enables visitors to learn how an average farmer lived and worked and traces Arlington history through the residents who lived there since 1742.
- Monthly programs including dynamic lectures, tours, and special events highlighting aspects of local history.
- Annual banquet with a keynote speaker on a local history topic and awards for individuals and/or organizations who make exceptional contributions to Arlington history.
- Publication of the annual Arlington Historical Magazine featuring original research on local history.
- Hold the Annual High School Essay Contest for high school students on on a stated theme of Arlington County history. Winners are given countywide publicity and awarded a cash prize; their essay is published in the Arlington Historical Magazine.
- Collaboration with Arlington’s Black Heritage Museum related to the African American experience in the county.