This morning I had in mind to write one thing but read in today’s Washington Post “D.C.’s Past Is Prologue,” about the Historical Society of Washington D.C. over on Mt. Vernon Sq. Reading the article I’m a bit concerned about the paragraph:
Thomas said he envisions a place where more records could be archived, such as papers from neighborhood associations — and that could increase the annual line item. The society’s supporters are suggesting an appropriation of $2.5 million to $4 million.
I have no problem with the city supporting and funding some of the Historical Society’s functions, but I’m concerned about what this would mean for the DC Archives (Naylor Ct) and the Washingtonia Division at the Martin Luther King Library (Gallery Place), both under the DC government’s jurisdiction. Does it mean the problems of the DC Archives can be ignored?
The article also says the Historical Society tells the city’s non federal stories and “the King public library and the Jewish Historical Society… have archives, theirs are more specialized.” When the author writes the “King public library” can I assume that’s the Washingtonia division at the MLK? And if so, what exactly is it’s speciality that makes it so different from the Historical Society’s archives? More printed and published material at the MLK? A better set of census microfilms at the MLK? Just for my own research I found a lot of overlap. With maps they and the Library of Congress overlap. The major differences were in quality of the document, ease and price of making duplicates, access, staffing and hours. However each repository has its own particular strengths that don’t overlap. The Historical’s on-line catalog makes it a superior resource as well as its fantastic photo collection. The Washingtonia’s strength is that it gets down to the neighborhood level in organization and has a great library of published resources. But they both cover DC history.
Also DC history is all over the city. It’s at the Historical Society, in the Washingtonia division of the MLK, the Library of Congress, George Washington University, Georgetown, Catholic, National Archives, and the DC Archives.