Virtual Reference

Virtual Reference

For DC Local History

Questions about Washington, DC local history? DCPL Special Collections librarians are here to help! 

Special Collections defines "virtual reference" as any request for information not made in person or readily answered over the phone. For tracking purposes, it is our policy that all virtual reference requests must be submitted in writing. 

Use one of the following options to submit a written request:

  • Preferred: e-mail Special Collections at
  • Use the "Contact Us" link located at the bottom of this web page. You may submit your query as a "General Topic" or as a "Genealogy and Obituary Request".
  • If you are unable to use any of the methods above, call us during operating hours at 202-727-1213 (Washingtoniana) or 202-727-0233 (Georgetown Library Peabody Room). We will submit the question on your behalf.

When submitting a request:

  • Please provide as much detailed information about your query as possible (names, dates, locations, alternate spellings, etc.)
  • Include your e-mail address and telephone number, in case we need to ask follow-up questions about your request.
  • E-mail is our preferred method of response. Where possible, relevant documentation less than 3 pages in length will be scanned and attached.
Expect to hear from us in five to seven business days (may be longer for U.S. Mail). Special Collections provides high-quality reference service to customers, connecting them to appropriate information resources--both for queries within our collections and through referrals. It is outside our scope to perform an extensive investigation into any single topic on your behalf; however, we can advise you on sources to hire a local researcher. Finally, if your request is specific to photo or archival research, additional considerations may apply.

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