Researching Historic Washington, D.C., Buildings
The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division's holdings complement a variety of resources both within the Library of Congress and at other institutions that support the study of buildings in Washington, D.C. This guide offers search strategies and overviews of resources for researching Washington, D.C., sites and structures.
Pathfinder: Strategies For Researching Buildings in Washington, D.C.
Researching buildings involves gathering various types of information that can, in turn, lead to additional information. Some types of sources may need to be consulted multiple times as you obtain more clues. The detective work involved in building research has some added twists when it comes to Washington, D.C., sites, because of the multiple jurisdictions (municipal, federal, regional) that come into play.
The best overall guide to conducting research is the 1998 expanded brochure, "Researching the History of a Building in Washington D.C.," made by the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. The Historical Society of Washington, D.C., also has a more recent publication, "Building History Research Guide" (2007) - see the Selected Bibliography below for details.
- Study the house for physical clues about its age, architectural style, and construction. Were there any additions or alterations? What building materials and construction methods were used? (Travis McDonald's Preservation Briefs 35 provides useful guidance - see the Selected Bibliography.)
- Take a photo of the building--this will help in providing a visual reference and in spotting landmarks that may be nearby.
- Has your building already been placed in a register or survey? This can save you research steps, because someone may have already gathered quite a bit of information about the building or site.
- Use real estate atlases to determine the date of the building, as well as the city square number and lot number and street addresses. Historic maps can also help determine the date. It is important to note and verify all previous lot numbers for the property by checking a later map against earlier maps. (See information below for Geography & Map Division resources that can help with this search.)
- Collect names of people associated with the building: original owner’s name, subsequent owners' names, builder, architect, exact street address (some streets have been renamed over the years: for example, Boundary Street became Florida Avenue in 1893)
- If the building was built after 1877, the National Archives building permit index may help locate the original building permit, which can include such information as: the owners, architect, builder, and building date. (Pre-1877 buildings can be researched at the National Archives by performing pre-permit research with tax and assessment books.)
- Use city directories and telephone books to find previous tenants and their occupations. Reverse directories by street address can help locate residents' names.
- Owners of buildings will show up in tax assessment directories, deeds and wills:
- Check the census to find individuals and families associated with the building, starting with the HeritageQuest Online database (LC has a subscription to this database).
- Local History & Genealogy Reading Room resources may also be of assistance.
- Look for contemporary accounts, newspaper articles, histories and other secondary sources for information on original architects, owners, and persons associated with the building. (See the "Subscription and Other Electronic Resources" section for full-text newspapers that can help locate addresses as well as the names of owners and builders.)
- Use the names and addresses you have collected as search terms for finding pictures of the building.
Resources in the Prints & Photographs Division
More than 750,000 photographic prints and negatives and approximately 40,000 drawings in the division's holdings relate to Washington, D.C.. These photographs and drawings are not housed in a single collection but are found in many separate groups and storage locations.
Researchers looking for pictures of a particular structure should come prepared with an image of the structure and any names associated with the building (owner, architect, building name) as well as an address. Identifying information for images in P&P holdings varies, depending on the source of the image and the data that accompanied it. The materials are not indexed by the lot and square number provided on historical real estate atlases, nor are they routinely indexed by quadrant of the city (NW, SW, NE, SE).
Prints & Photographs Online Catalog
Start by looking for images in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC), a Web-based catalog that can be searched on site or remotely. It covers most drawings and prints relating to buildings in Washington, D.C., and a large proportion of the photographs.
The catalog includes descriptions of individual items as well as groups of related items. Some descriptions are accompanied by digital images and others are not. In some cases, only thumbnail images display to those searching outside the Library of Congress because of potential rights considerations.
Some descriptions include the full name of individual buildings. In other cases, indexing relies on whatever information came with the image, which can be brief and unspecific. It is helpful to try multiple types of searches, such as:
- the name of the building and any alternate or abbreviated names, e.g., "president's house" (as well as White House) and "congressional library"
- names of building inhabitants (individuals or organizations)
- street name
- important landmarks that might be the focus of a picture, with the building you are seeking somewhere in the picture
- the building type (e.g., apartment building)
- a subject search using keywords "District of Columbia" or "Washington D.C."
- a general keyword search using abbreviated terms such as : "view Wash D.C.," "bldg. Wash D.C." "Penna. Ave. (original captions and entries transcribed from old caption cards frequently use abbreviations)
Architecture, Design & Engineering (ADE) Finding Aids in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room
This series of finding aids complements online descriptions of groups of architectural/engineering documentation for a particular structure or commission by a particular architect or firm (ADE - UNITs). More than 1,600 ADE - UNITs relate to structures in Washington, D.C. The building name, owner, and address are in the online catalog record, when known. The finding aid helps determine which floors or other parts of the building are documented.
The finding aids itemize each drawing in the ADE - UNIT with brief information: a call number, a brief caption, and any reproduction number(s).
The finding aids assist in selection, as the drawings are fragile and are served by appointment (see: Service of Architectural Drawings: //www.loc.gov/rr/print/info/096a_ade.html).
Architecture, Design & Engineering (ADE) Supplemental Catalog in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room
Also called the ADE Supplemental Index, many P&P collections that are described below are fully indexed in this card file, including the Allen, Bryan, and Street Survey collections and certain groups of photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnston and the National Photo Company. The card entries provide the location of images of individual buildings mostly by building name, owner name, and, where possible, by street name and cross street.
U.S. Geographical & Historical Index: Washington D.C. in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room
This index, begun earlier than the ADE Supplemental Catalog, indexes individual images under such headings as: Historical Events, Fires & Disasters, Hotels, Neighborhoods, and types of buildings such as Galleries & Museums. It includes headings for a few specific buildings,such as the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress, and the White House, with multiple subdivisions (exterior, interior, etc.).
Reference Book Collection in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room
The Prints & Photographs Division maintains a reference book collection that supports study and interpretation of the collections. Washington, D.C., and architecture are particular strengths of the collection. See the Selected Bibliography below for recommended titles.
District of Columbia Historic Preservation Office - Building Permits Data Base
This tool provides access to information that is not in Prints and Photographs Division collections. It includes DC building permit information taken from the original building permit forms. Titled "DCHPO Data Bases 2008," this CD was provided by the Government of the District of Columbia Historic Preservation Office, Office of Planning. The database has been loaded on a staff computer near the photocopiers in the reading room - request assistance from staff to use it. (A CD version of the database from 2008 is stored with other P&P Reading Room CDs in the microfilm/CD cabinets for preservation purposes.) The database includes:
- Buildings 2000, version 2008.01 by Brian D. Kraft allows searching by owner, architect, or square and then lot
- National Register nomination forms for District of Columbia buildings
- User manual.
P&P Collections That Are Strong for Washington, D.C., Architecture
This select list clusters collections by their primary format: photographs or drawings. The arrangement within each section is roughly chronological, based on the dates the images were made.
James M. Goode Collection (LOT 11800, LOT 12013, LOT 12279)
ca. 1850-1983. Strengths: Washington's destroyed and altered buildings; rowhouses; commercial buildings. Goode copied images from various repositories in the course of researching and illustrating his books, including Capital Losses, which documents buildings no longer standing.
LOT 11800 - //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2004667394/ - Images relating to Capital Losses
LOT 12013 - //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2004667395/ - Demolished and altered buildings in the Washington, D.C. area
LOT 12279 - //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2004667396/ - Row houses and commercial buildings in Washington, D.C.]
Wilhelmus Bogart Bryan Collection (LOT 7077)
ca. 1860-1918. Extensive coverage of downtown Washington, streets in NE and NW, views, some residences.
[view collection description: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2004667310/]
Stereographs (STEREO US GEOG - Washington, D.C. and STEREO LOTs)
ca. 1860-1929. Strengths: U.S. government buildings, views. About 950 stereographs.
[view online images from
STEREO US GEOG - Washington, D.C.: //www.loc.gov/pictures/search/?q=stereo%20u.s.%20geog%20washington%20d.c.&fi=number ]
C.M. Bell Collection
ca. 1867-1916. About 30,000 photographs, primarily glass plate negatives. Particularly strong for portraits, but fair coverage of D.C. residences, government, and organizational buildings.
[view collection description: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/88716088/]
Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection
ca. 1896-1927. Includes interiors and exteriors of Washington, D.C. buildings, especially in LOT 11727
[view collection description: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/88707696/]
[view description of LOT 11727: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/87707045/
Washington, D.C. Street Survey Collection (LOT 11516)
ca. 1900-1905. Shows Washington streets and neighborhoods around the turn of the century.
[view collection description: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2004667141/
Harris & Ewing Collection
ca. 1905-1945. Views and events, but also private residences and the business district. Digitized negatives are online; also some photographic prints in LOT 12506 and LOT 12560.
[view collection overview and search the negatives in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog: //www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/hec/]
LOT 12506: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2004668619/
LOT 12560: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2004667315/]
Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey (HABS/HAER/HALS) Collection
ca. 1933-present. Photographs of buildings dating from pre-colonial era to 1960s. About 950 entries for documentation produced by the National Park Service for sites and structures in the District of Columbia, a little more than half of which are for residences and neighborhood districts. In addition to photographs, includes some measured drawings and written historical information.
[view collection overview and search the collection in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog: //www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/hh/]
National Photo Company Collection
ca. 1909-1932. Includes interiors and exteriors of Washington, D.C., buildings. Digitized glass negatives and some photographic prints are online; also photographic prints focusing on architecture in LOT 12359.
[view collection description: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2005684470/ ]
[view collection overview and search in Prints & Photographs Online Catalog: //www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/npco/ ]
[view descriptions of subdivisions of LOT 12359]
Theodor Horydczak Collection
1920s-1940s. Exteriors and interiors of commercial, residential, and government buildings. Digitized negatives are online; photographic prints focusing on architecture in LOT 12106 (residential buildings); and LOT 12091 (views) .
[view collection overview and search in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog: //www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/thc/]
LOT 12106: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2004668646/
LOT 12091: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2004668630/ ]
Joseph S. Allen Collection (LOT 11661-9)
ca. 1945-1967. Particularly strong for courthouses and public buildings. Some coverage of D.C. residences, apartment buildings, and churches.
[view collection overview: //www.loc.gov/rr/print/coll/003.html]
Washingtoniana File (U.S. Geographical File - Washington, D.C.)
ca. 1800s-1960s. About 3,000 modern and vintage photographic prints in browsing file in Prints & Photographs Reading Room. Includes some copies of popular images found in cataloged collections. Relevant categories include: Aerial views, Circles & Squares, Houses, Neighborhoods, Streets.
Carol M. Highsmith Archive
Includes photographs of Washington, D.C, particularly architecture, neighborhoolds, and some aerial views.
[view collection overview and search in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog: //www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/highsm/]
Waddy B. Wood Archive
[view collection description: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/95858233/]
Arthur B. Heaton Archive
[view collection description: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/95858232/]
Waggaman & Ray Archive
[view collection description: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/95858230/]
Donald H. Drayer Archive
[view collection description: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/95858235/]
Chloethiel Woodard Smith Archive
1957-1975. Smith is known for her work on District of Columbia Southwest redevelopment.
[view collection description: //www.loc.gov/pictures/item/95858237]
Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey (HABS/HAER/HALS) Collection (see entry above)
Resources In Other Parts of the Library of Congress
This is usually the first stop in researching a building, because the Geography & Map Division has historical real estate atlases of Washington, D.C. with which one can locate the lot number, square, address, and other details of a particular building. The division also has the Sanborn fire insurance maps, panoramic maps, and more recent maps.
Geography & Map Division Online Resources
- Baist's real estate atlas of surveys of Washington, District of Columbia (multiple editions, each multiple volumes). Published:
- Online Maps collection home page: //lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/gmdhtml/gmdhome.html
> Select: Geographic Location Index.
> Select "United States - District of Columbia."
- Sanborn Maps
- The Sanborn Map Company was the primary American publisher of fire insurance maps for nearly 100 years. These large-scale plans contain information such as a building's function, size, shape, and construction materials, heights, and location of doors and windows. The maps also give street names, street and sidewalk widths, property boundaries, house and block numbers.
- Checklist and some digitized items: //www.loc.gov/rr/geogmap/sanborn/
- Digital Sanborn Maps, 1867-1970 subscription database - On-site access to database which offers black-and-white reproductions of Sanborn maps from Library of Congress collections and includes maps of Washington, D.C. issued in 1888, 1903-1906, 1927-1928, 1939, 1950, and additional dates. http://eresources.loc.gov/record=e1000380~S9
Additional Real Estate Atlases
Hopkins, Griffith Morgan. Atlas of Fifteen Miles Around Washington.... (Philadelphia: 1879).
LC Call number G1275.H57 1879
Hopkins, Griffith Morgan. A Complete Set of Surveys and Plats of Properties in the City of Washington. (Philadelphia: 1887).
LC Call number G1275 .H6 1887.
Hopkins, Griffith Morgan. Real Estate Plat-book of Washington, District of Columbia: from the Original Plats of Squares & Subdivisions Upon Record in the Office of the Surveyor of the City of Washington. (Philadelphia: 1892-1894). 3 volumes.
LC Call number G1275 .H62 1892
Hopkins, Griffith Morgan. Real Estate Plat-book of Washington, District of Columbia. Supplement to Vol. 3: Comprising the First Suburban Section of the Plan of the Extension of Permanent System of Highways . (Philadelphia: 1892).
LC Call number G1275 .H62 1892 Suppl.
General Collections Reading Rooms (Books, Microforms, etc.)
U.S. City Directories, Telephone Books, and Reverse Directories
City directories can be useful in determining who lived at a certain address at a given time. Washington, D.C., city directories were published between 1822 and 1973. There are no current city directories for Washington, D.C.
Reverse directories (listings by address) were published 1914-1973.
Information the directories provide includes: name, spouse's name (1928- ), occupation, work address, home address, race (up to 1870). Not comprehensive. For general information, see "Telephone and City Directories in the Library of Congress: Non-Current, Old": //www.loc.gov/rr/genealogy/bib_guid/telephonnoncurr.html#usere
Washington, D.C., city directories on microfilm in the Microform Reading Room are: 1861-1941, 1948, 1954, 1956, and 1960.
Title of microfilm series.: City Directories of the United States. Microfilm (o) 84/206.
For pre-1860 directories, a separate microfiche is available: Dorothea Spear's Bibliography of American Directories Through 1860 (LC Call Numbers: Z5771.S7 (1961 edition) and Z5771.2.S68 1978 (1978 edition)).
Reverse directory holdings for D.C. (request in the Local History & Geneaology Reading Room): 1934-1943; 1948-1953 (missing 1951); 1957-1959; 1963-1972
Criss-cross directory holdings for D.C. and suburbs (request in the Local History & Geneaology Reading Room): 1968-1996 (but several years in the 1970s and 1980s missing)
National Intelligencer Marriage and Death Notices
From 1800 to 1869 the National Intelligencer, useful as the first and most prominent newspaper in the District of Columbia, included important local family names and history in its notices of marriages and death (obituaries), as well as in articles. From 1800-1810 it was known as the National Intelligencer & Washington Advertiser; from 1810 until it ceased publication in 1869 it was known as the Daily National Intelligencer.
GenealogyBank.com - A commercial database provides searchable access to issues of the Daily National Intelligencer, 1814-1869: http://www.genealogybank.com/gbnk/newspapers/explore/
Martin, George A. and Frank J. Metcalf, Marriage and Death Notices from the National Intelligencer [Washington, D.C.], 1800-1850. Washington, D.C.: National Genealogical Society, 1976. 3 microfilm reels.
Indexed by year, then alphabetically by name.
Call number: Microfilm 83/171 ( C) [Microform Reading Room]
Dixon, Joan M. National Intelligencer & Washington Advertiser Newspaper Abstracts. Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1996-2007-. 20 vols.
LC Call Number:
F193 .D62 1992 (Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/96145933)
- Metcalf, Frank J. Marriages and Deaths, 1800-1820 from the National Intelligencer, Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C.: National Genealogical Society, 1968. LC Call Number: F193 .M4 1968.
A register by the local newspaper: indexed by year, then alphabetically by man’s name. At end, an index by bride’s name.
- Pippenger, Wesley E. Daily National Intelligencer Index to Deaths, 1855-1870. Westminster, Md.: Willow Bend Books, 2004. LC Call number: F193 .P55 2004 (Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/2005270098)
Local History and Genealogy Reading Room Vertical File Index
[view description: //www.loc.gov/rr/genealogy/lhgcoll.html#vertical]
This alphabetical index lists materials on file at the reference desk. Entries include: Washington, D.C. - History, Local; District of Columbia - Genealogy; and District of Columbia - Vital Records.
Local History & Genealogy Guides and Indexes for Washington, D.C.
Especially valuable for building histories are census indexes from 1810 to 1850, indexes to D.C. wills from 1801 to 1950, and abstracts of the Daily National Intelligencer. Select publications:
Angevine, Erma. Research in the District of Columbia. Arlington, VA: National Genealogical Society, 1992.
LC Call Number: CS42 .N43 no. 60
Cook, Eleanor Mildred Vaughan. Guide to the Records of Your District of Columbia Ancestors. Silver Spring Md.: Family Line Publications, 1987.
LC Call Number: F193 .C59 1987.
Jackson, Ronald Very. District of Columbia, 1810. Salt Lake City, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1981.
LC Call Number: F193 .D59 1981.
Jackson, Ronald Very. District of Columbia 1820 Index Census. Bountiful, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems, 1981.
LC Call Number: F193 .F193 .J333
Jackson, Ronald Very, and Gary Ronald Temples. District of Columbia 1830 Index Census. Bountiful, Utah: Accelerated indexing Systems, 1977.
LC Call Number: F193 .J334
Jackson, Ronald Very. District of Columbia 1840 Index Census. Bountiful, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems, 1977. 44 pgs. LC Call number: F193 .J335
Jackson, Ronald Very, and Gary Ronald Temples. District of Columbia 1850 Census Index. Bountiful, Utah: 1977. pgs. LC Call Number: F193 .J336
Pippenger, Wesley E. Abstracts of Wills. Westminster, Md.: Family Line Pubs., 1996. LC Call Number F193 .P57 1996.
Abstracts of probate records. Typescripts are at the District of Columbia Archives. Hand-written records are at the National Archives in Record Group 21, Item 111.
Pippenger, Wesley E. District of Columbia Probate Records. Will Books 1 through 6, 1801-1852 and Estate Files 1801-1852. Westminster, Md.: Family Line Publications, 1996. LC Call Number F193 .P57 1996
Provine, Dorothy S. Index to District of Columbia Wills, 1801-1920. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co, 1992. LC Call number: F193 .P76 1992.
Provine, Dorothy S. Index to District of Columbia Wills, 1921-1950. Lovettsville, Va.: Willow Bend Books, 1996. LC Call number: F193 .P765 1996.
An alphabetical index to testators’ names for over 36,000 wills filed with the District of Columbia Probate Court.
Schaefer, Christina A. The Center: A Guide to Geneaological Research in the National Capital Area. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub., 1996. LC Call Number: CS44 .S33 1996.
Web Guide: A Guide to Washington D.C. Materials
The Capital and the Bay: Narratives of Washington and the Chesapeake Bay region, ca. 1600-1925:
Resources Outside the Library of Congress
The Martin Luther King Memorial Library, Washingtoniana Division
Web site: http://www.dclibrary.org/research/collections
Holdings include maps, building permits, city directories, and census records, as well as the Washington Historical Image collection, the Washington Star newspaper collection, and the D.C. Community Archives. Portions of the Washington DC Historical Image Collection and the Washington Star collection are available in the DC Public Library’s Digital Archives.
Historical Society of Washington, D.C.,
Kiplinger Research Library
Web site: http://www.dchistory.org/research/about-library-collections/
National Archives and Records Administration
Web site: http://www.archives.gov
Building Permits, Tax Assessments, and Plans
The National Archives has custody of the D.C. building permits and associated indexes for the period of February 17, 1877 through September 7, 1949. The architectural drawings (plans) have been separated from the permits, 1877-1902.
Records of the Government of the District of Columbia - Record Group 351.4 (Microfilm M1116) see: http://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/groups/351.html#351.4
- The National Archives holds a preliminary inventory on microfiche for Record Group 351 that is helpful for locating records, including pre-1877 tax assessment and 18,000 architectural plans (1877-1902) that were separated from the building permits. The Library of Congress holds an earlier version of the preliminary inventory: Provine, Dorothy. Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Government of the District of Columbia, Record Group 351. National Archives, 1976. (LC call number: CD3026.A32, no. 186).
- A Building Permits database is available in the Microfilm Research Center (Archives I building, Washington, D.C.)
Maps, Architectural Drawings, Photographs
The National Archives is the repository for official government records, including maps and architectural drawings (see: http://www.archives.gov/dc-metro/college-park/researcher-info.html#cartographic ) and photographs (see: http://www.archives.gov/dc-metro/college-park/photographs-dc.html ). Some materials may be located through the Archival Research Catalog (ARC): http://www.archives.gov/research/arc/
District of Columbia Government
A summary of the locations of various types of planning and permit records is available at: http://dc.gov/DC/DCRA/Permits/Records+Room
Recorder of Deeds
Official repository of all land records and general public instruments for the District of Columbia. Deeds since 1921 have been digitized so far.
- Deeds issued 1900-1923 and 1937-present - Card index by square and lot number, which shows changes in lot numbers, lists mortgages and leases and transfers of property
- Deeds issued before 1900 - General name indexes and grantor/grantee indexes from 1792-
District of Columbia Office of Planning/Historic Preservation Office (HPO)
Web site: http://planning.dc.gov/DC/Planning/Historic+Preservation/Maps+and+Information/Landmarks+and+Districts
Includes DC Inventory of Historic Sites [database] and PropertyQuest (listed under "My Property), a database providing a wide range of site-related information, especially information on historic resources.
Web site: http://os.dc.gov/service/district-columbia-archives
Holdings: Marriage records from 1811 to 1989, birth and death records; testaments and wills; Mayors’ papers; building permits, 1958-1995.
Books and Articles
Capital Drawings: Architectural Designs for Washington, D.C., from the Library of Congress. Edited by C. Ford Peatross; with the assistance of Pamela Scott, Diane Tepfer, and Leslie Freudenheim. Baltimore; Washington, D.C.: Johns Hopkins University Press in association with the Library of Congress, 2005. LC Call Number NA2695.U6 L533 2005 P&P Ref
500 architects/designers of D.C. and suburban D.C. structures are listed in an appendix, for online searching in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC). See also the chapters on commercial Washington and on 20th century housing.
Collins, Kathleen. Washingtoniana; Photographs: Collections in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1989. LC Call number: F195. L66 1989 P&P Ref. Desk
Washington, D.C. materials in the Prints & Photographs Division, focusing primarily on photographs.
DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. Building and Land Regulation Administration. Historic Preservation Division. Researching the History of a Building in Washington D.C. [Washington, D.C]: 1998. LC Call Number: None - filed with Hoagland book, under F204.1 A1 H6 1998 P&P Ref
Unpublished brochure updated from 1993 version, in turn based on 1978 Hoagland publication, "A Guide to Researching Buildings in the District of Columbia." Spells out research steps. Also in P&P Ref File in reading room, folder marked: "Washington D.C. - Researching a Historic Building"
Goode, James M. Capital Losses: A Cultural History of Washington's Destroyed Buildings. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books, 2003. LC Call number: NA735.W3 G66 2003 P&P Ref
Includes illustrations associated with LOT 11800.
Hoagland, Alison K. A Guide to Resources for Researching Historic Buildings in Washington, D.C. Revised ed. Washington, D.C.: Columbia Historical Society and Don’t Tear It Down, Inc., 1982. LC Call number: F204.A1 H6 1982 P&P Ref
Early and still useful guide, employing traditional methods of research. Includes useful "flow chart for research."
Howe, Barbara J., et al. Houses and Homes: Exploring Their History. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 1997. LC Call Number: E180 .H68 1997
General handbook on researching and putting together a house history. How to examine written records, oral histories, and the setting and neighborhood.
Langenberg, David L. "Researching the History of Your House." University of Delaware, Newark, September 2007. [date accessed December 30, 2008]
A digital publication on the American Library Association Reference and User Services Association history section web site. The bibliography lists books, pamphlets, articles, and web sites.
McDonald, Travis C. Preservation Brief 35. Understanding Old Buildings: The Process of Architectural Investigation. Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, Technical Preservation Services. Sept. 1994. Available online: http://www.nps.gov/history/HPS/TPS/briefs/brief35.htm
Information on how to study a building for clues about date and construction.
Rapuano, Rita. "How to Uncover Your House’s History." Washington Post, October 7, 2007, page N3.
Basics of searching (real estate maps, city directories, building permits). Includes an inset, "Where to Start," for the District, Maryland, and Virginia.
Rupar, Terri. "A Guide to Researching History of Your Home: Along the Way, Beware of False Records." Washington Post, November 19, 2005, page F12.
General guide to resources in the District. Also, outlying counties and Alexandria.
Scott, Pamela. A Directory of District of Columbia Architects, 1822-1960. Second ed. Washington, D.C.: D.C. Historic Preservation Office, 2001. LC Call Number: NA55 .W3 S36 2001 copy 1 (P&P Biog).
Architects and architectural firms. Provides dates when they first registered as architects; DC registration dates, educational degrees. Chronological listing showing occupation (draftsman, designer, architect) and address at that time.
Scott, Pamela. Residential Architecture of Washington, D.C., and Its Suburbs. Library of Congress, Center for Architecture, Design & Engineering, 2005. //www.loc.gov/rr/print/adecenter/essays/Scott.html
Research Materials for Architecture and the Built Environment Located in Metropolitan Washington, D.C. (1999). http://www.lib.umd.edu/Guests/DCARCHres/welcome.html
Online guide prepared by the University of Maryland School of Architecture. Expansion of the 1982 book by Sally Hanford, Architectural Research Materials in the District of Columbia. Access (via Index) by structure or site name, by architect or firm, and by geographic location. Coverage: well-known buildings and architects.
Electronic Resources Including Subscription Databases
Full text of historic newspapers, 1860-1922. Includes issues of several Washington, D.C., newspapers, including The Washington Times and the Bee.
H-DC: Washington, D.C., History and Life
http://www.h-net.org/~dclist/ - listserv relating to Washington, D.C., history
http://www.h-net.org/~dclist/res_loc.html - resources assembled by group members
http://www.h-net.org/~dclist/masternbh2.html - neighborhood listings and information
H-DC is a refereed discussion list that provides a means of communication and interaction for researchers of Washington, D.C., history and culture. Includes a list of area resources, bibliographies, and pathfinders (e.g, charts of city directories and Baist atlases listed by date and institutions that own them)
ON-SITE ACCESS ONLY (via ProQuest): http://eresources.loc.gov/record=e1000237~S9
HeritageQuest Online includes a growing collection of material for researching family history and American culture. Includes census data and more than 20,000 family and local histories.
Washington Post newspaper articles
ON-SITE ACCESS ONLY (via ProQuest Historical Newspapers): http://eresources.loc.gov/record=e1000028~S9
Prepared by: Marilyn Ibach, Reference Specialist. Last revised: Nov. 2011