Uncovering the Roots of Your Family Tree
Published on Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 2:02pm
Researching your family history can be an enlightening and rewarding experience. The DC Public Library has a wealth of resources to assist you in your family history project. Whether you’re a beginner or a novice, the library can play an effective role in helping you discover your family roots.
If your family roots are local, you will want to visit the Washingtoniana Division on the third floor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. This division is dedicated to preserving the history of Washington, D.C. You can research people, neighborhoods and events in the division’s extensive vertical file of newspaper clippings.
- Make an appointment to view photographs from the Washington Historical Image Collection.
- Research births, deaths and marriage announcements from major daily newspapers in the microfilm collection, which dates back to the 1800s.
- Research your ancestors in D.C. city directories from 1822 to the present.
- View the U.S. Censuses of Washington, D.C. up until 1940.
You may find that the most valuable resource in the Washingtoniana Division is the staff who are able to assist and direct you in any research project.
Another good starting point for family research is the D.C. Public Library’s genealogical database, HeritageQuest Online. With your library card, you have access to more than 25,000 family and local histories and the complete U.S. Federal Census from 1790-1940, the Periodical Source Index (PERSI), the Revolutionary War Pension Applications & Bounty Land Warrant Applications, and the Freedman's Bank Records.
You can utilize the library’s local and national newspaper databases to research marriage and birth announcements. All of our online genealogy resources are available from one page. A valid library card is required to access library databases.
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- National Archives Resources for Genealogists -- Get research tips, browse for popular topics, find out about genealogy workshops near you, and more.
- Historical Society of D.C. Family Research Guide -- This guide, offered as a PDF, includes references -- primary and secondary -- that are available at the Historical Society of D.C. and other local repositories.
- Ancestry.com -- A rich resource for building your family tree and finding supporting documents, including Census records, passenger lists and military records. Membership required after 14-day free trial.
- FamilyTree.com -- Research missing gaps in your family tree with access to surnames databases, a genealogy dictionary, genealogy site reviews and more.