Uncovering the Roots of Your Family Tree

Benning/Dorothy I. Height Library

Uncovering the Roots of Your Family Tree

Discover the Roots of Your Family Tree at the libraryResearching your family history can be an enlightening and rewarding experience. The DC Public Library has a wealth of resources to assist you in your family history project. Whether you’re a beginner or a novice, the library can play an effective role in helping you discover your family roots.

If your family roots are local, you will want to visit the Washingtoniana Division on the third floor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. This division is dedicated to preserving the history of Washington, D.C. You can research people, neighborhoods and events in the division’s extensive vertical file of newspaper clippings.
  • Make an appointment to view photographs from the Washington Historical Image Collection.
  • Research births, deaths and marriage announcements from major daily newspapers in the microfilm collection, which dates back to the 1800s.
  • Research your ancestors in D.C. city directories from 1822 to the present.
  • View the U.S. Censuses of Washington, D.C. up until 1940.
You may find that the most valuable resource in the Washingtoniana Division is the staff who are able to assist and direct you in any research project.

Another good starting point for family research is the D.C. Public Library’s genealogical database, HeritageQuest Online.  With your library card, you have access to more than 25,000 family and local histories and the complete U.S. Federal Census from 1790-1940, the Periodical Source Index (PERSI), the Revolutionary War Pension Applications & Bounty Land Warrant Applications, and the Freedman's Bank Records.

You can utilize the library’s local and national newspaper databases to research marriage and birth announcements. All of our online genealogy resources are available from one page. A valid library card is required to access library databases.

Geneaology How-To-Books
Basic Genealogy for KidsCrash Course in GenealogySecrets of Tracing Your Ancestors
Basic Genealogy for Kids
by Bonnie Hinman
Crash Course in Genealogy
by David Dowell
929.1 D746
Secrets of Tracing Your Ancestors
by Daniel W. Quillen
929.107 Q67A
Who Do You Think You Are?Discover Your RootsA Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your African-American Ancestors
Who Do You Think You Are? The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History
by Megan Smolenyak
929.1072 S666W
Discover Your Roots: Dig Up Your Family History and Other Buried Treasures
by Paul Blake
929.1072 B636
A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering your African-American Ancestors: How to Find and Record Your Unique Heritage
by Franklin Carter Smith
929.1089 S6477

Online Sources