Capitalizing on Washington, DC’s diverse communities and its role as the nation’s capital, the Washingtoniana Collection documents the city’s political, economic, social, and cultural history. These materials encompass a variety of topics including the Metro, the District of Columbia government, local businesses, neighborhoods, and civic associations. Our collections are composed of letters, diaries, maps, reports, journals, photographs, and books.
The primary source materials relating to Washington, DC are in the form of individual papers, family papers, and organizational records which document the economic, political, social, and cultural history of the District of Columbia and the metropolitan Washington area. Subject interests for the collection include city planning, public transportation, dance, literature, local politics and government, business, and communities and neighborhoods.
The Washington Writers' Archive actively collects, preserves, and makes available historic documents that tell the story of the literary community within the Washington metropolitan area. These documents include publications, personal papers of local poets and writers, and organizational records for small publishing house and community groups.
Special Collections has the papers of DC political figures including former Congressman Walter E. Fauntroy, the late District Commissioner John B. Duncan, and former DC City Council members Polly Shackleton, John Wilson, and David Clarke. Special Collections also has the papers of important political, civic, and business organizations including the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, Friendship House Association, C & O Canal Association, and Greater Washington Board of Trade.
The largest grouping of maps in the collection supports Washingtoniana research. Included are maps and views by decade from 1790 to the present in either original or facsimile. Notable early originals in the collection include the Thackara and Vallance (1792), the Samuel Hill (1792), the Tiebout (1792), the Baker (1793), and the Ellicott (1793). The division also holds an original manuscript map of Port Royal by James Dermott (1796). Special Collections also houses a strong collection of maps from the Holy Land. These maps were donated to the collections by Dr. Samuel Halperin and Mr. Henry Epstein. Some of the map makers represented here include Gerhard Mercator, Sebastian Munster, Christian von Adrichem, and Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville.