Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Enjoyment of Washington, DC

By:  Tina Marie

I recently returned from a trip to Washington, DC where I attended the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR).  It was a jam-packed trip filled with daily lectures on federal records, and research visits to three of the top ten libraries with genealogical resources.  In addition to the course work, I had my own personal plan for researching and sightseeing.  That plan proved to be very helpful in providing new clues in my family research.

NARA Constitution Avenue Entrance
My first stop in DC was the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).  Most of the course lectures were held at NARA at 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.  The National Archives was established in 1934 to preserve and care for the records of the U.S. government.  There are two entrances to the building.  The museum entry is on Pennsylvania Avenue and the library entry is on Constitution Avenue.

Elijah B. Johnson Civil War Pension File
The focus of my research at NARA was to review the original military pension file for Elijah B. Johnson.  He is my ex-husband's 3 x's great-grandfather.  He was born circa 1837 in Delaware (so I thought) and he served in Company B, 30th Regiment Connecticut Colored Volunteers during the Civil War.  After examining the pension file, I learned that Elijah was from Delaware County, Pennsylvania and not Delaware State like most of his records had documented.  Learning his correct birth place helped me to find him on both the 1850 and 1860 census which provided a wealth of new information.

            Obituary Thomas Buckley

My next stop in DC was the Library of Congress (LOC).  The LOC was established by an Act of Congress in 1800.  It is the nation’s library and holds 158 million items and 38 million books.  The library has three buildings, the Madison, Adams, and Jefferson.  Each building holds a different collection of records.  The main reading room including the genealogy collection is in the Thomas Jefferson Building and it is a beautiful sight to see.  I spent most of my time in the James Madison Building in the Newspaper & Periodical Reading Room.  I located on microfilm an obituary for Thomas Buckley in the New Haven Evening Register on November 20, 1880.  Thomas is my ex-husband's 4 x's great-grandfather.    The obituary was filled with new information that helped me to distinguish between two Thomas Buckley’s who lived in the same area and were about the same age.      

DAR Library

My next DC stop was the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Library.  I am a member of the DAR Chicago Chapter and my Revolutionary War ancestor is Edgeconb Guilliams.  The DAR Library is located at 1776 D Street NW and was founded in 1896 by DAR staff who were verifying the application papers to the National Society DAR.  I was able to look at membership applications and the supporting documentation at the DAR Library.  I found land records for Edgecomb Guilliams that I am still attempting to transcribe due to the handwriting and poor copying.  I am looking forward to where this 1763 document will lead me.

March on Washington, August 1963, NARA photograph

My last stop was Archives II in College Park, Maryland.  This facility was built in 1993 and holds a separate collection of records from Archives I in Washington, DC.  I spent the day in Photographs reviewing the original still photos of the 1963 March on Washington.  Although there were photographs of Dr. King, there were many more pictures of the people in the audience.  I thoroughly enjoyed delicately delving through these still photos and even felt goose bumps as I looked at them.  Here is a view of the Archive's Digital Vaults.


  1. You make me want to revisit Washington, a city blessed with wonderful museums and institutions.

  2. Great post, another place I want to visit!


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