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.
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).
- Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS): Photographs and information on buildings. This is an important LOC collection.
- Other LOC photograph collections: Brady-Handley views of DC; Civil War; Farm Service Administration; Harris & Ewing; Gottscho-Salinger; Hordzczak Collection; Lilienquist Collection; Stereograph Cards, Miscellaneous Items in High Demand.
- Wymer Photograph Collectionof HSW: In 1949 and 1950 John Wymer systematically photographed every neighborhood in Washington. Note: HSW has multiple additional photograph collections.
- See also www.shorpy.com and www.ghostsofdc.org.
- www.dclibrary.org [search ‘dig>dc’] Willard R. Ross postcard collection (1910s-1930s)
- Washington Post online: See July-August 2014 CHRS News on accessing Post articles/photographs. The Evening Star is also available at www.dclibrary.org. Real estate advertisements, in addition to articles, may have photographs.
- www.capitolhillhistory.org. See for example, Lorraine Reid’s 1947 photographs.
- www.chrs.org has some house histories (chrs.org/history-and-preservation/house-histories/), and the annual CHRS House and Garden Tour brochures (chrs.org/house-and-garden-tour/tour-brochures/) with information about houses on that year’s tour. Some photographs (taken after 2000) of houses outside the Capitol Hill Historic District are available in the Beyond the Boundaries documentation (chrs.org/history-and-preservation/beyond-the-boundaries-map/).
- 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.
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:
www.loc.gov > Prints and Photographs
| Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Washingtoniana Division
901 G Street, NW (3rd floor)
|Historical Society of Washington, DC (HSW)Kiplinger Research Library
801 K Street, NW