Finding Historic Photographs of Capitol Hill Houses

Posted on February 5th, 2015 by Elizabeth Nelson

By Beth Purcell  Document as .pdf

Photographs of Capitol Hill houses from the past may be available from several sources. This article focuses on photographs of existing buildings.

Photograph collections

It’s a big universe. You may want to start by searching these collections online, and then visit the libraries and consult librarians for additional help. The box shows contact information for Library of Congress (LOC), Washingtoniana, and Historical Society of Washington, DC (HSW).

Online searches

Search tips:

  • See library’s website for search tips.
  • If your house is near a well-known building, a photograph of that building may also show your house. Examples include the Capitol, churches, schools, fire stations, commercial buildings, the Navy Yard, streetcar barns.
  • Search by street name, in addition to searching by address.
  • Street names have changed. B Street NE and SE became Constitution Avenue, NE and Independence Avenue, SE. Georgia Avenue, SE became Potomac Avenue, SE.

Visiting libraries:

There may be additional photographs which the librarians can help you find. Contact information is below. For LOC you may need to get a free researcher’s ID. For each library, it’s a good idea to find out in advance how to pay for copies of photographs and what formats are available. Bringing a flash drive is a good idea.

Washingtonian at the MLK Library has a large collection, including indexes and past issues of the Washington Star on microfilm and also has vertical files on many topics.

Books and periodicals

Records of the Columbia Historical Society. HSW

Robert Reed, Old Washington, D.C. In Early Photographs 1846-1932 (New York, N.Y.: Dover Publications, Inc, 1980)

Library of Congress (LOC) Prints and Photographs Collection (Madison Building)

Independence Avenue SE between 1st and 2nd Streets

The entire LOC collection is at the Madison Building; a subset has been digitized and is available online at: > Prints and Photographs

 Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Washingtoniana Division

901 G Street, NW (3rd floor)

202 727-1213

Historical Society of Washington, DC (HSW)Kiplinger Research Library

801 K Street, NW

202 249-3955