Build Your Family Tree at the Library

Ever wonder about your ancestors?  The DC Public Library can help.  Check out Heritage Quest, a free database that includes U.S. Census records from 1790 to 1930 and Freedman’s Bank records.   

Incorporated in 1865 to benefit freed slaves, Freedman’s Bank records contain information about the depositors and their families from 1865 to 1874.  In some cases, the names of former slave owners are included.  

Accessing this database only requires a DC Public Library card.  Before starting database research, a few tips will help get better results:  
  • Decide who to research.  Collect the real name of ancestors, their siblings, how old they would be and where they lived in 1930.   
  • Search broadly.  Enter the last name, year of birth, and city/state in Heritage Quest’s census database.  
  • Work backwards.  Review the 1930 Census information, then plan to search the 1920 Census. Continue stepping back through available census data.  
  • Explore Freedman’s Bank Records.  Find the surname of an ancestor and where they may have lived from 1865 to 1874. 
Heritage Quest is one of many resources available to research family history.  To learn more about the Library’s databases, visit or any Library location.