ProQuest and some house history

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If you work or study at an institution that has a ProQuest subscription try this to discover information about your home.

Search the historic newspapers and limit it to the Washington Post. Then search your address in quotes, leaving off the NW or NE or whathave you. If your street address has changed names, it happens, use those too. If you are on a numbered street switch up searches with it spelled out, such as 'first' or 'third'. Also for third street, try '3d' and 2d for Kirby. You can try using your "square #" and maybe lot for searching real estate transactions, though the problem with that is lot numbers do change, a lot.

Prepare yourself for finding unpleasantries, embarrassments, and things that at the time were horribly serious that we can look back and laugh at. I found some dull things associated with my house, classified ads for occupants looking for domestic work. I found a small fire had occurred where the occupant badly burned her hands and another occupant at another time was badly beaten over on 7th Street.

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You can access Proquest's historical newspapers database if you have a DC library card! From the library home page, look for Databases under Research, find Historical Newspapers, and then just enter your lbrary card barcode when prompted. This is a great service for DC residents (and anyone from neighboring counties, who can also get DC library cards for free). Another fun search to do, btw, is to search for your neighborhood or street name and limit the search to display ads. You'll sometimes find detailed renderings of homes being offered by developers.

Note that the default changed to include all 12 newspapers when you log in now...make sure you remember to change that aspect at the top to only use Washington Post historic.

Its good to also enter your builders or architects name and narrow down the dates to when your house was built. It was often covered under permits or in an ad.

I've been using Proquest - thanks to my DC library card for a few months now to do research on some photos I have from the 1950's made in Washington, DC. I live over on 8th Street - found out all sorts of things about my street. A woman was murdered (shot six times in the face) in 1967 in the house next door. I have a feeling her spirit is still around - she was really young, only 27! Her common-law husband killed her in a domestic dispute. He only got 7 to 21 years in prison.

A man that lived in my house murdered someone in the early 1970's, and another man that lived in my house was murdered by his brother in Alexandria in the 1970's. The 20 year old kid that lived next door was murdered on 9th street in the late 1940's in a fight at a restaurant.

The DC library is a true gift. Anyone can download three free songs per week for the Sony Music collection via a DC library card. There are some Miles Davis songs on there that are 20-30 minutes long that are just awesome. It is like getting a whole album in one song.

Thanks so much for sharing about ProQuest - haven't found much on my house yet, just an interesting ad for sale by owner. Nothing on my architect - but don't have his first name. Some results have the search item highlighted, but most don't, so searching the pages of ads are challenging.

Also plan to check out the Sony music collection.

Anything else you can share with new residents and library card holders???

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