About the Library and Collections


The Kiplinger Research Library welcomes individual researchers as well as groups and workshops.

The  extensive collections of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. document over 200 years of local history and are made available to the public through the Society’s exhibits, publications, the online catalog,  and the Kiplinger Research Library.

The Society collects, preserves, arranges and describes collections that document the city’s physical landscape as well as the families, organizations, businesses,  neighborhoods, religious institutions and other communities that comprise Washington, D.C. The Society maintains and protects an invaluable resource for future Washingtonians, including works of art, rare books, and ephemera.

The catalog includes more than 100,000 prints, negatives and slides from the 1860s to the present, documenting local street scenes, events, businesses, and people; more than 500 cataloged maps, tracing the development of the built environment; and more than 800 archives and manuscript collections, ranging from diaries and personal papers, to early 18th century land records, to the historic records of existing organizations.

The Society’s collection encompasses the Washington, D.C. city limits and areas outside of those limits that have a direct relationship to individuals, locations, and events that occurred within the District. This includes the relationship to the greater metropolitan area and historical connections with Maryland and Virginia.

Subject Areas

The collections of the Society include those materials that document Washington’s social, physical, economic, political and cultural development.  The Society’s collecting interests include the diverse social and cultural history of the city, its physical development, business history, transportation, neighborhoods and community organizations, political structure, regional history, relationship to national events, and international connections through diplomatic relations and immigration.

Since its collections are used mainly for original research and exhibition, the Society emphasizes the acquisition of primary source materials.  The Society is one of the leading resources for the study of the District of Columbia and deliberately collects monographs, photographs, and genealogical materials to support its core collections.

Strengths of the collection include:

  • Architecture and Physical Development
  • Art, Culture, and Recreation
  • Community and Neighborhoods
  • Families and Notable Individuals
  • Local business, industry and economic development
  • Religion, local houses of worship, and funeral homes

Resource formats include:

  • Archival and manuscript materials
  • Graphic materials (e.g. prints, photographs, works of art, etc.)
  • Digital materials
  • Printed or published materials (e.g. books, maps, ephemera, etc.)
  • Three-dimensional objects