District of Columbia Archives and Libraries
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|District of Columbia Background|
|Local Research Resources|
These repositories preserve sources, maintain indexes, and provide services to help genealogists document their ancestors who lived in the District of Columbia.
Wiki Articles on Major District of Columbia Repositories
National Archives I · National Archives II · National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) (St. Louis, MO) · Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Library · Library of Congress · National Genealogical Society (Arlington, VA) · Family History Library (Salt Lake City, UT) · Library of Virginia (Richmond, VA) · Maryland State Archives (Annapolis, MD) · New York Public Library NY
Links to online databases and indexes that may include vital records, biographies, cemeteries, censuses, histories, immigration records, land records, maps, military records, naturalizations, newspapers, obituaries, or probate records.
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
- Eales, Anne Bruner and Robert M. Kvasnicka, ed. Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives of the United States. Third Edition. Washington, DC: Nathional Archives and Records Administration, 2000. (Worldcat) Explains records collections used most by genealogical researchers: Census, Passenger Arrivals and Border Crossings, Naturalizations, Military, Land, Native Americans, African Americans, and more.
- A National Archives (NARA) descriptive pamphlet (DP) provides helpful information about a microfilm set such as an explanation about the records on the film set, their origin, and a roll-by-roll descriptive list. Reviewing a DP prior to using a film set can increase a researcher's ability to use it successfully in a time-efficient manner. The Special Collections of the St. Louis County Library has placed on their web site full-text or PDF versions of DPs for some of the NARA microfilm sets.
- Digitized NARA Microfilm Publications
- "US National Archives To Upload All Holdings To Wikimedia Commons"
- The National Archives has a list of digitized records and links to access them through online databases. It includes pay sites such as Ancestry and Fold3.com that have partnered with the National Archives to digitize many of the archives' records. Read more about the digitization program at the National Archives.
Washington National Records Center (WNRC)
- Older than 15-years federal criminal court, federal civil court, and federal bankruptcy court records, and the federal agency records from the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Regional Branches of the National Archives
Regional branches of the National Archives collect records of federal government offices and courts within the area they serve. Most have complete sets of federal census records, military records, and ship passenger lists. Each region also has specialized records, for example, the Chicago branch has records about the auto industry, Abraham Lincoln, and Al Capone. National Archives regional branches are located in or near:
• Atlanta, GA • Denver, CO • New York City, NY • San Francisco, CA • Boston, MA • Fort Worth, TX • Philadelphia, PA • Seattle, WA • Chicago, IL • Kansas City, MO • Riverside, CA
- The National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis is part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). It is the central repository for both the military and civil services personnel-related records. It maintains military personnel records for servicemen and servicewomen discharged from 1912 to 1952* (*i.e. 62 years after discharge). Use Standard Form SF-180 to order files. Military records prior to WWI are at National Archives II in College Park, Maryland. 
District of Columbia Area Repositories
Bureau of Land Management Eastern States Office
- Original land records for all transfers of U.S. federal land to individuals in those states touching, or east of the Mississippi River. This includes land sales (cash or credit), homesteads, bounty land for military service, mineral and timberland rights transfers. See the Wiki article Land Patent Search for an explanation and link to the index. The BLM also has plat maps, tract books, and the original patents. With a patent description a researcher can access the land entry papers at the National Archives I.
City of Fairfax Regional Library
- Regional history and genealogy, Confederate Civil War military history, maps, photos, manuscripts, local newspapers, and city directories.
Washington, D.C. 20006-5392
Internet address: Daughters of the American Revolution.
- The DAR Library houses one of the largest genealogical collections in the United States. Its book collection includes more than 150,000 volumes concerning people and places throughout the nation. The collection focuses primarily on the generation of the American Revolution, but also includes substantial resources for studying people from the colonial period and the nineteenth century. "Through the efforts of local DAR members and chapters nationwide approximately 15,000 volumes of Genealogical Records Committee Reports have entered the Library and constitute a unique source for family histories, cemetery record transcriptions, and Bible records." 
District of Columbia Archives
1300 Naylor Court, NW Street Address
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 419 Mailing Address
Washington, DC 20004
Internet: District of Columbia Archives
- Research must be scheduled ahead of time. Birth certificates 1874-1916 (after 1916 not yet open), death certificates 1874-1932, marriage certificates 1870-1965 (after 1965 not yet open), wills and probate records 1801-1999, probate administration cases 1879-1958, apprenticeship indentures 1812-1893, guardianships and administrative bonds1862-1939, Recorder of Deeds land records 1797-1930, and DC jail committals 1850-1934.
District of Columbia Marriage Bureau
Moulrie Courthouse, Room JM-690
500 Indiana Ave. N.W.
Internet: Marriage Bureau
- Marriage records 1990-present. Obtain copies in person, or by mail. You must provide the full names, maiden names, and the date of the marriage for both parties.
District of Columbia Public Library
901 "G" Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-4599
E-mail: Contact Us form
Internet: Genealogy Resources
- City directories, marriages and deaths in MD DC and VA, obituaries, DC area newspapers, church and cemetery record indexes, censuses, naturalizations, emancipations, free Negros, runaways, fugitive slave cases, guardianship index, indentures and apprenticeship, and biographies. The library's Special Collections include Washingtoniana, The Peabody Room (Georgetown historical resources), and the Black Studies Center.
District of Columbia Vital Records
- Birth and death records 1874-present. Persons entitled to purchase a vital record include: the registrant, an immediate nuclear family member, a legal guardian, or a legal representative. Birth and death records become public after 100 years have elapsed from the date of birth and 50 years have elapsed from the date of death.
Gallaudet University Library
800 Florida Ave. N.E.
Washington, DC 20002
E-mail: Library help request form
Internet: Gallaudet University Library Deaf Collections and Archives
- Library collections include 19 indexes of birth, marriage, and death records from Deaf publications, Gallaudet alumni cards, Gallaudet faculty/staff cards, Pennsylvania School for the Deaf applications, manuscripts, photographs, biographies, and other genealogical resources.
Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit
E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse, Room 4714
333 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001-2866
Internet: Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit
- Covers the U.S. District Court (a federal trial court) and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington DC only, but historically has had an outsized influence as a frequent forum for litigation involving federal agencies. Collection includes oral histories, biographies, and papers.
Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
Carnegie Library 2nd floor
801 K St NW
Washington, DC 20001
Internet: Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
- Think of this as the state archives for the District of Columbia because of the 200 years of local history documents for genealogists. This includes families and notable individuals, organizations, businesses, neighborhoods, religious institutions, local houses of worship, funeral homes, diaries and personal papers, and early 18th century land records. Researchers are welcomed in the Kiplinger Research Library by prior appointment only Tuesday through Friday. Access to the library and collections is free of charge.
Thomas Jefferson Building, LJ G4
Washington, D.C. 20540-4660
Telephone: Reading Room: 202-707-5537
E-mail: Ask a Librarian
- Use this library for its outstanding genealogical guides and indexes. They are part of the world's largest library including 50,000 genealogies, 100,000 local histories, and collections of manuscripts, microfilms, maps, newspapers, photographs, and published material, strong in North American, British Isles, and German sources. The "Local History and Genealogy Reading Room" has moved to the main reading room, but services are unchanged. 
- The Library of Congress site has a wonderful American Memory page that links to more 60 collections, searchable by keyword or time period in a variety of media.
- The National Genealogical Society (NGS) aims to serve and grow the genealogical community by providing education and training, fostering increased quality and standards, and promoting access to and preservation of genealogical records. It is the premier American national society for everyone from the beginner to the most advanced family historian. In conjunction with a sponsoring local genealogical society, it stages an annual NGS Conference. They also provide genealogical education courses, publications and videos. Their NGS Book Loan Collection is now housed at the St. Louis County Library in Missouri. Their online collections include The National Intelligencer (Washington, DC) newspaper index 1800-1850, indexed Bible records and family groups from NGS members.
Prince George's County Genealogical Society
- 5,500 volumes, surname files, family group sheets, Bible records and microfilms. Focused primarily on Prince George's County, Maryland, and the eastern states.
Recorder of Deeds
District of Columbia Recorder of Deeds
1101 4th Street, SW, 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20024
Internet: OTC Recorder of Deeds
- Resources for locating property owners including buyers of the first DC land auction sales. See also: District of Columbia Archives.
Register of Wills
Attention: Probate Systems Office
515 5th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
DC Courts telephone: 202-879-1010
Internet: Request Record Searches and Copies
- Closed cases more than ten years old are sent to storage either at the Suitland Records Center or at the D.C. Archives. To retrieve a will that is in storage, complete section 1 of the Case Information - Archive Case Request Form. Mail in the completed form. The register's office will contact you when the document has been retrieved and is available for viewing for about two weeks. See also: District of Columbia Archives.
Repositories Outside the District of Columbia Area
35 North West Temple Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84150
Internet: FamilySearch Family Tree pedigrees, Memories photos, Search historical records, Genealogies, FamilySearch Catalog, and FamilySearch Wiki
- 450 computers, 3,400 databases, 3.1 million microforms, 4,500 periodicals, 310,000 books of worldwide family and local histories, civil, church, immigration, ethnic, military, and Mormon records. Includes a good District of Columbia collection. Many microfilms are also at branch FamilySearch Centers in local LDS churches, and described in their online FamilySearch Catalog.
- The following guide book will help in using the library. It gives suggestions on preparing to visit the library, genealogy research tips, and helps in using the library.
- Family History Centers (FHCs) are branches of the Family History Library and are located all over the world. Their goal is to provide resources to assist you in the research and study of your genealogy. You may search your address for a center near you on the FamilySearch site. These local centers are staffed by volunteers and have varying hours and resources so call to verify their hours in advance.
Richmond, VA 23219-8000
E-mail: Contact Us Select department to open dialog box
Website: Library of Virginia
- Includes information about the Virginia residents who once were part of the District of Columbia. Their large genealogical collection has family Bibles, birth, marriages, deaths, divorces, histories, biographies, and newspapers. Many of their manuscripts are now online. The General Library contains printed materials, while the Research and Information Services Division consists of government records and other historical documents. Many collections are available online, such as Confederate pensions, veterans and widows, an index to wills and administrations, Revolutionary War bounty land, and Virginia Land Office patents and grants. 
- This is the premier facility for locating Maryland and District of Columbia ancestors. The Maryland State Archives online has nearly all available public records from 1634 to 1789; most original state and county records through the mid-twentieth century; microfilm copies of land, probate, and vital records to the present; and over 130 major card indexes to Maryland land records and early settlers, newspapers, county records, church records, family, and business records. This is the most complete collection of any of the 13 colonies. It can take up the three days just to check the indexes. For more information about the state archives, see the following references.
- Maryland. Hall of Records. A Guide to the Index Holdings at the Hall of Records. Rev., Bulletin, [Maryland. Hall of Records] No. 17. (Annapolis, Maryland: Hall of Records, 1972.) FHL book 975.2 A1 no. 56. This is a county-by-county list of indexes and years covered.
- Papenfuse, Edward C., et al. A Guide to Government Records at the Maryland State Archives: A Comprehensive List by Agency and Record Series. (Annapolis, Maryland: Maryland State Archives, 1992.) FHL book 975.2 A3g. This guide lists record types, years covered, and series number.
- Papenfuse, Edward C., et. al. A Guide to the Maryland Hall of Records: Local, Judicial and Administrative Records on Microfilm. Volume 1. (Annapolis, Maryland: Hall of Records Commission, 1978.) FHL fiche 6049468; book 975.2 A3pa v. 1. Volume one is a detailed list of many records on microfilm for Allegany County, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, and Baltimore City, Maryland. These include court, probate, and land records. The archives has additional computer printout lists for all counties. You can write to them for information about records of specific localities and time periods.
- Radoff, Morris Leon, et al. The County Courthouses and Records of Maryland, Part Two: The Records. (Annapolis, Maryland: Hall of Records Commission, 1963.) FHL fiche 6054101 (fiches 4 and 5), 6054105; book 975.2 B4ma no. 13 This is a county-by-county list of record types, years covered, and series number.
- This is one of the largest research libraries in the world including excellent genealogical resources for the District of Columbia. The library has city and telephone directories, vital records indexes, local histories, genealogies, federal and state censuses, passenger lists, genealogical collections (including DAR transcripts), and church records. For maps, write to the Map Division at the same address.
- Benton, Mildred, ed. Library and Reference Facilities in the Area of the District of Columbia. 12th edition. American Society for Information Science, 1986. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 975.3 J5j.
- Eales, Anne Bruner and Robert M. Kvasnicka. Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives of the United States. Washington, District of Columbia: National Archives and Records Administration, 2000. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 973 J53e.
- Neagles, James C. and Mark C. Neagles. The Library of Congress: A Guide to Genealogical and Historical Research. Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry Pub., 1990. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 973 D23ne.
- Provine, Dorothy S. Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Government of the District of Columbia. Record Group 351. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Service, 1976. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 975.3 A1 No. 8.
- Schaefer, Christina K. The Center: a Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Capitol Area. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1996. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 975.3 A3sc.
- Information for Researchers at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC in National Archives (accessed 31 December 2013).
- William Dollarhide and Ronald A. Bremer. America's Best Genealogy Resource Centers (Bountiful, Utah: Heritage Quest, 1998), 2. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Ref Book 973 J54d.
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 29.
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 123-34.
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 134.
- National Archives at St. Louis in National Archives (accessed 18 March 2014).
- Virginia Room in Fairfax County, Virginia (accessed 13 January 2017).
- About the Library in DAR Daughters of the American Revolution (accessed 8 February 2010).
- District of Columbia Archives in DC.gov (accessed 7 January 2017).
- Marriage Bureau in District of Columbia Courts (accessed 7 January 2017).
- Genealogy Resources in DC Public Library (accessed 7 January 2017).
- Department of Health - Vital Records in DC.gov (accessed 7 January 2017).
- Genealogy Resources in Gallaudet University Library Deaf Collections and Archives (accessed 7 January 2017).
- Welcome in Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit (accessed 7 January 2017).
- About the Library and Collections in Historical Society of Washington, D.C. (accessed 7 January 2017).
- Research in Historical Society of Washington, D.C. (accessed 7 January 2017).
- Contact Information in The Library of Congress [Internet site] (accessed 12 May 2010).
- The Collections in Local History and Genealogy Reference Services in Library of Congress (accessed 2 February 2014).
- NGS Mission in National Genealogical Society (accessed 14 January 2017).
- NGS Membership Trifold pdf in National Genealogical Society (accessed 14 January 2017).
- Home in National Genealogical Society (accessed 7 January 2017).
- Individual Member Benefits in National Genealogical Society (accessed 14 January 2017).
- Library information in Prince George's County Genealogical Society (accessed 7 January 2017).
- Request Record Searches and Copies in District of Columbia Courts (accessed 7 January 2017).
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 1.
- Washington DC Family History Center in Family History Research Wiki (accessed 13 January 2017).
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 97.
- Using the Collections in Library of Virginia (accessed 7 January 2014).
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 55.
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 81.