Explore Our Collections

The Kiplinger Library's extensive collections document over 200 years of Washington history. Use our online catalog to search for topics of interest. Collections include:

Photographs: More than 100,000 prints, negatives and slides from the 1860s to the present, documenting local street scenes, events, businesses, and people.

Archives: The Archives section of the library's online catalog includes more than 700 archives and manuscript collections, ranging from early 18th century documents to the historic records of existing organizations, as well as maps, broadsides and ephemera.

  • Search the Library Catalog for descriptions of archival collections, finding aids, maps, broadsides and ephemera.
  • Map Collection: Contains over 500 maps dating from late 18th century to the present, including city planning maps, topographical maps, real estate atlases, and subdivision maps.
  • Broadsides and Ephemera Collections: Contains a variety of materials that help capture the everyday activities of Washington's businesses and people. Items include posters, programs, dance cards, advertisements, menus, tickets, and catalogs.
  • Archives and Manuscript Subject Guide Organized primarily by subject with some collections listed by type. Photograph collections are not included.
  • Featured Collection: The Rainbow History Project (RHP) actively collects and processes oral histories, personal papers, published materials, ephemera and other material reflecting the experiences of Washington, D.C.'s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities; the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. is proud to serve as the RHP's partner in this effort. Additions to the Rainbow History Project Collection at the Society (MS 0764) are transferred to the Society on an on-going basis; to see all current catalog records relating to the RHP Collection, please use the catalog's advanced search feature, entering "rainbow history project" in the Keywords or Description fields (please do use quotes for the most accurate results). Still to come: online access to the entire collection's finding aid, which is currently available in the reading room of the Society's Kiplinger Research Library. Please contact RHP directly if you are interested in contributing to the collection.

Library: The "Library" section of the online catalog includes over 8,500 titles, including books, pamphlets, and periodicals. New titles continue to be added.

  • Search the Library Catalog for books, pamphlets, and periodicals.
  • Research Guides: Our subject-oriented research guides include citations for cataloged titles as well as articles and other published materials not included in the online catalog.
  • Vertical Files: The Library maintains newspaper clipping files on a variety of topics, including D.C. architecture, associations, biography, businesses, buildings, neighborhoods, schools, transportation and local government. An inventory of the clipping files is available from reference staff.

Objects: This collection of art and artifacts, ranging from fine art to toys and tools, is used for both research and exhibition. This collection is not yet available for searching through the online catalog. Please see reference staff.

  • Art Holdings: Include portraits, the Fastov collection of 19th century paintings and Lily Spandorf's "Washington Never More" collection of 155 mid-20th century Washington scenes. The Thomas G. Machen Print Collection forms the core of the Library's extensive 19th century print collection, including over 530 engravings, lithographs and woodcuts. Other graphic arts collections include the Newton Collection of 19th century pencil sketches and the cartoons of Richard H. Mansfield and Clifford Berryman.
  • Artifacts: Washington businesses are represented by artifacts from Woodward & Lothrop, Hechinger's, the Heurich Brewery, old hotels and others. Local political memorabilia includes ribbons, buttons and other campaign items.

Membership Brochure

Join HSW today to support our collections and gain valuable benefits!

The Historical Society of Washington, D.C. • 801 K Street, NW at Mount Vernon Square • Washington, DC 20001 • 202-249-3955 • info@HistoryDC.org