Washington DC History Resources

Matthew B. Gilmore

Public Washington DC history resources – Library of Congress – DC City Directories (microfilm)

(–and paper)

(and evening research hours)

The Library of Congress is a superb public institution for researching Washington DC history. Contrary to perception it is not difficult to use, once you learn how to navigate the catalogs, reading rooms, librarians, and collections.

101 Independence Ave. SE
Thomas Jefferson Building, LJ 139
Washington, D.C. 20540-4660

The Microform Reading Room in the Jefferson Building has

  • microfiche copies: 1822, 1827, 1830, 1834, 1843, 1846, 1850, 1853, 1855, 1858, 1860
  • microfilm copies of the Washington DC city directories 1862-1941, 1948, 1954, 1956, 1960.
  • These are in the bottom 2 drawers of cabinet 14.

They do NOT have microfilm for

  • 1962 
  • 1964 
  • 1965 
  • 1967
  • 1969
  • 1970
  • 1973** (in alcove off of main reading room)

BUT paper copies of these can be requested by paper call slip in the Business/Science Reading Room in the Adams Building.

The Microfilm Reading Room is open M, W, Th 9 am to 9:30 pmAND T,  F, AND Saturday 9 am to 5 pm.

Directories are published for Washington from 1822 to 1973:

Each included:

  • Alphabetical list of people and businesses (“white pages”)
  • classified list of businesses (“yellow pages”) [“Buyer’s Guide”]
  • criss-cross street list (each address in the city listed by address) “Directory of Householders” [starting in 1914]
  • phone number list [starting in 1969]

The main white pages listing usually includes:

  • name
  • spouse’s name (1928–)
  • occupation
  • work address
  • home address
  • race (up to 1870)

Ceased publication for Washington DC in 1973.

Note: the directory was done by canvas in the December of the year preceding, and one could ask to be excluded (noted as “refused”).


NOTE: City directories are accessible through Ancestry.com–but only by name, not address.

SEE ALSO Public Washington DC history resources – NARA – DC City Directories (paper)

SEE ALSO House History Resources

SEE: Library of Congress Microform Reading Room webpage

FYI: a nice blog post about New York City directories: https://www.nypl.org/blog/2012/06/08/direct-me-1786-history-city-directories-US-NYC




3 comments on “Public Washington DC history resources – Library of Congress – DC City Directories (microfilm)

  1. Pingback: Whither Washingtoniana?–collection closes July 7, 2017 at the Carnegie Library building! | Washington DC History Resources

  2. DeWitt Bowman
    March 16, 2018

    I am looking for information on the date and occasion of a military parade in Washington, DC honoring the retirement of an US Air Force General in either 1954, 1955, or 1956. I was a pilot of an F-89 that flew down Pennsylvania Avenue hoping to firm up my recollections. Sincerely DeWitt Bowman

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