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Operation Overview Collection

Identifier: A-OOC

Scope and Contents

These records were collected the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association to document the Operation Overview movement. A large portion of the collection is correspondence, including letters by and from Vice Regent Frances Bolton and other members of Congress. Other types of records represented are organizational reports, bulletins, statements, Congressional transcripts and bills, news clippings, financial papers, and several drawings and photographs. The bulk of the records range from the 1960s to early 1970s.


  • 1953-1983


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research during scheduled appointments. Researchers must complete the Washington Library’s Special Collections and Archives Registration Form before access is provided. The library reserves the right to restrict access to certain items for preservation purposes.

Biographical / Historical

During the late 1950s, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association learned of plans to commercially develop the shoreline of Maryland directly across from Mount Vernon. Several real estate and property deals were considered including a sewage plant and an amusement park. The MVLA began a campaign to persuade local and federal government officials to support them in an effort to restore and maintain the natural beauty of the Maryland shore across the Potomac in order to preserve Mount Vernon’s view. They argued that the river view from the estate is a vital part of Mount Vernon’s historic presence and the MVLA’s mission to maintain the property as closely as possible to its appearance during George Washington’s ownership. This campaign, known to members of the Association as “Operation Overview,” took years to accomplish and continued to be threatened after its initial success. Today, the land directly across the Potomac River from Mount Vernon, and up and down the shore for several miles, is now a part of the National Park Service known as Piscataway Park. The National Colonial Farm is located inside the park and is operated by the Accokeek Foundation.

Biographical / Historical

U.S. Congresswoman and philanthropist Frances P. Bolton was instrumental in the success of Operation Overview. She was born in 1885 in Cleveland and married Chester C. Bolton, a U.S. Representative from Ohio, in 1907. After her husband’s death in 1939, Mrs. Bolton was elected to complete the remainder of his term. She became the first woman in the U.S. House of Representatives to serve the state of Ohio and remained in office until 1969. While serving on the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, Mrs. Bolton became an advocate for UNICEF and the independence of African colonies. She produced a film on her journeys through the diverse African continent titled Africa: Giant with a Future. Mrs. Bolton was an active philanthropist with interests in nursing education, public health, and social services. The nursing school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland is named in her honor. The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association appointed Frances P. Bolton as Vice Regent from Ohio in 1938. She served on several committees including the Grounds Committee and the Mansion Committee. Her most notable contribution to the MVLA was her extraordinary work on Operation Overview. By gathering Congress support, buying property on the Maryland shore, and securing land easements, Mrs. Bolton helped save the beautiful, natural view from Mount Vernon while setting aside park land for future generations. She died in Ohio in 1976.


3 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



According to the 1975 MVLA Council minutes, files regarding Operation Overview had been purposefully collected by the Association and arranged “topically” by Mrs. Duncan, a Mount Vernon employee. Robert Straus of the Accokeek Foundation also gave the MVLA “seven cartons” of related Accokeek files. The two different collections were originally to remain separate, but may have been merged at some point. The original arrangement and folder titles were kept, with additional processing when necessary. Only duplicate items were weeded. The folders are arranged and described alphabetically, then chronologically. There are no series.

Related Materials

- Operation Overview Black Binders I-VI (mostly newspaper clippings) - Papers of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association – specifically correspondence and papers of Vice Regent Frances P. Bolton, Regent Rosamund H.R. Beirne, and Regent Elizabeth T. Cooke - Book, The Possible Dream: Saving George Washington’s View by Robert Ware Straus with Eleanor B. Straus, 1988.

Processing Information

See Arrangment note.

Operation Overview Collection
Rebecca Baird, Archivist, with previous content list by Michaela Feltman, intern
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Archives of the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association Repository

PO Box 3600
Mount Vernon VA 22121 USA