DC Punk Archive

DC Punk Archive

Documenting D.C. Music in Washingtoniana/Special Collections

In support of the Washingtoniana mission to collect, preserve and provide access to primary source materials that document the history and culture of local D.C., we have established a DC Punk Archive in DC Public Library’s Special Collections. A year after initiating planning and community outreach, we have received several collection donations, secured grant funding to design an online portal for access to collections, and will further engage the public in the project through programming, volunteer training, exhibits and concerts.

What's New

Please join us December 3rd for the next Library Basement Show with Rom, Booby Trap, and Psychic Subcreatures. Doors open at 6 p.m., show starts at 6:30. 

We will continue to host shows in the basement every other month, sponsored by the DC Public Library Foundation. If your DC-area band would like to play, LET US KNOW!


We have received and continue to accept donations of personal collections that include materials in various formats: photographs, zines, books, records, cassettes, CDs, DVDs, videos, live recordings, fliers, posters, set lists, letters, tickets, buttons, and other ephemera. INVENTORY OF RECORDINGS

Subject content is not be limited to the music itself, but could include anything pertinent to the cultural context, such as organizations, record labels, houses, venues, festivals, record shops, radio stations and tours. The subject scope is intentionally broad, punk and related local independent music 1976-present, in order to capture both well-documented and as well as lesser-known stories.

Collections received:
  • Mark ANDERSEN - organizational records of Positive Force DC and research materials for Dance of Days (article)
  • Annie Lou BERMAN - oral histories
  • Jourdan BETETTE & Sasha LORDE - posters from shows at Comet Ping Pong
  • Tony BUCKLEY - zines, fliers, recordings and other ephemera
  • Elliott CALDWELL - fliers and photos
  • Cynthia CONNOLLY - fliers, posters and artwork from shows at d.c. space
  • John DAVIS - zines, fliers and records
  • Bobbie DOUGHERTY - fliers and other ephemera
  • Sohrab HABIBION - videorecordings of punk shows 
  • Xyra HARPER - zines and radio shows
  • Eddie JANNEY - fliers and posters 
  • Melissa KLEIN - LPs and riot grrrl zines
  • Carni KLIRS - fliers and demos
  • Kevin MATTSON - Positive Force fliers and zines
  • Chris MOORE - fliers, posters and demos
  • Deane NETTLES - photos and fliers
  • Katy OTTO/Exotic Fever Records - flyers and recordings
  • Radio CPR - organizational records and radio shows
  • Mike ROSS - zines and letters (article)
  • Jim SAAH - zines
  • Rachel SENGERS - zines, fliers and posters
  • Ryan SHEPARD - 7" records, live recordings, and punk fliers and posters
  • Cynthia ULEMAN - zines
  • Clarissa VILLONDO - photos 
  • Robbie WHITE - Slickee Boys posters and ephemera
The list above represents donated collections of 25 or more items, which will be processed as individual collections named for the donors. Smaller donations will be added to a general collection, with donor information attached to individual items. We'd like to thank the following donors for contributing items to the general collection:

AKASHIC Books ▪ Michael ANDRADE ▪ B. AVERY ▪ Natalie AVERY ▪ Jason BARNETT ▪ Troy BENT ▪ Tom BERARD ▪ James BERBERT ▪ David BERMAN ▪ Alec BERRY ▪ Paul BISHOW ▪ Kylos BRANNON ▪ Matthew BURGER ▪  Michele CASTO ▪ CHAIN and the Gang ▪ Sharon CHESLOW ▪ Alec COOPER ▪ CRICKET CEMETERY Records ▪ Sara CURTAIN ▪ Matthew DINGEE ▪ Amy DOMINGUES ▪ Bobbie DOUGHERTY ▪ David ENSMINGER ▪ FIL ▪ Teresa GIONIS ▪ Amanda HURON ▪ Brett ISSACOFF ▪ Carlos IZURIETA/Youngblood Records ▪ Leena JAYASWAL ▪ Casey JONES ▪ Evan Keeling ▪ Beck LEVY ▪ Shawn MCDERMOTT ▪ Amanda MACKAYE ▪ Ian MACKAYE/Dischord Records ▪ Susie MCQUARY ▪ MOBIUS Strip ▪ Matt MOFFATT ▪ Michael O'CONNOR ▪ Joey PATCHAN ▪ Matthew PAYNE ▪ Shira PILARSKI ▪ Bryan PILAT ▪ Hayley Gordon PIVATO ▪ Christopher PROKOP ▪ David ROSENBERG ▪ Tony ROSS ▪ Alex SCHELLDORF ▪ James SCHNEIDER ▪ Dan SEARING ▪ Matthew SIBLO ▪ Willona SLOAN ▪ John STABB ▪ JoAnn WARD ▪ Christiana WHEELER ▪ Don ZIENTARA 

Though donations and purchases, we're gradually building a library of recordings, at present focused on Punk and Go-Go, but to eventually expand to include other genres and time periods of local music. 

To donate materials to the collection or for more information, contact:
  • Michele Casto, Special Collections Librarian, Washingtoniana, MLK Library
  • Bobbie Dougherty, Librarian, Mt. Pleasant Library
  • Maggie Gilmore, Music Librarian, MLK Library

Programming and Community Engagement

Community involvement in this effort is a top priority. We have sought support and advice from the local music community, and we have invited interested individuals to volunteer to train as community archivists to help with the processing and digitization of donated materials. We are developing relationships with other area repositories with local music collections to explore avenues of collaboration and resource sharing.

Programming has been another avenue for engaging the public in this project. We hosted a month-long series of programs in October, have held a bimonthly concert series in the library basement, will host an open house in the spring to give people a chance to see what we have collected, and are exploring having a music festival in September to celebrate the launch of the new online local music portal. This portal is made possible by grant funding from the Institute for Library and Museum services and will be another opportunity for the library to promote local music and provide public access to collections in the archive. 

Preservation and Access

Balancing preservation and access is a high priority for this project. Materials are housed and handled according to best archival practices. Security of the materials is a priority, and as with all archival collections in Washingtoniana, require an appointment to access. Digitization of these collections will allow greater access while minimizing handling of original materials. As collections are digitized they will be added to the Special Collections digital collections DigDC, but we also have grant funding to create an online music portal to allow the community to access local music with associated archival content such as video, images and other documents (expected roll-out summer 2015).

DC Music Archive -- Future Plans

Punk is only one piece of the rich story of D.C. music, and DC Public Library is committed to representing the most complete story possible by establishing a comprehensive DC Music Archive in Washingtoniana.

While we are actively targeting punk collections at the present, we are also currently accepting donations that document other genres, communities, and time periods of D.C. music.  We will expand the ongoing Go-Go collecting project and we are capturing DC Jazz and U Street culture through this oral history project.

Rock music that preceded and followed the heyday of Punk; R&B, Funk and Hip Hop that influenced (was influenced by) Go-Go; the thriving early Bluegrass and Country scene--all of these are important elements that make D.C. a unique and vibrant center for local music and culture, and all will have a home at the library. As we expand out collecting focus we will do so in collaboration and cooperation with other repositories of D.C. music collections.

Related Collections

University of Maryland Special Collections in the Performing Arts

The University of Maryland has established a D.C. Punk and Indie Fanzine Collection, 1979-2012, and as a collaboration between the two libraries, we will scan any zines that accompany donations to the DC Punk Archive in Washingtoniana and share them with UMD to help fill gaps in their (unless the donor prefers to donate original zines to UMD). 

George Washington University

George Washington University launced a D.C. Vernacular Music Archive in the fall of 2014, to support academic research in ethnomusicology and as a repository for student project raw materials. As we develop our interactive online local music portal, we will collaborate with these and other institutions to connect all digitized local music resources through one platform.

Special Thanks

Special thanks go to:
  • James Schneider, who helped catalyze this project by reaching out to collaborate with the library on preservation of D.C. punk materials encountered during the making of the documentary Punk the Capital.
  • The Institute for Museum and Library Services, the DC Public Library Foundation, Stephanie Williams of DC Music Download, and Derek and Tom Brown for grantfunding and fundraising efforts on behalf of the project.
  • Music community members who have generously offered advice and assistance to the project
  • The many who have already offered donations of collections and who have volunteered to assist with the project.
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