Library of Congress

Washington D.C. Land of Genealogy

By Joe Garonzik

Answer the following questions either True or False:

  1. No genealogical research is ever complete unless it has been authenticated by original source records.
  2. Salt Lake City is not the site of the greatest collection of accessible genealogical records in the U.S.
  3. The National Archives in Washington, D.C. is only one of many genealogy record repositories to be found in the nation’s capital.

If you answered false to any of these statements, you should read on. Why? In the first instance, it is an axiom of genealogy that all family research must ultimately be validated against original sources (or facsimiles of those sources on microfilm, etc.). How else can a researcher ever know that his data wasn’t derived from a mis-copied record, or that a lineage published in a book is simply incorrect?

Second, Washington, DC, with its scores of repositories and thousands of collections–NOT Salt Lake City–is the center for genealogical research in the United States. Notwithstanding the vast holdings of the Family History Library in Utah, the District of Columbia is the central repository of the nation’s primary source records and the very center of genealogical activity. The unique holdings of the National Archives alone–from census, Revolutionary War, and immigration records to naturalization, Native American, and Civil War documents–are enough to challenge LDS holdings.

Third, Washington is also the home of the Library of Congress, the DAR Library, the National Genealogical Society, and many more repositories of genealogical records. For example, if you need to do military research, you may need to consult the holdings of the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and the Interior, as well as the Archives itself. For that matter, the Archives’ holdings are at two locations–on Independence Avenue in Washington, D.C., and at College Park, Maryland.

October is National Family History Month!  If you can’t make it to Washington D.C., we recommend browsing Genealogy Connect  collections from the comfort of your computer. 
[alert-info]Joe Garonzik

About the Author

Joe Garonzik, Ph.D., MBA, is the Marketing Director for He has worked at the company for 34 years. His work involves book promotion, content acquisition, and new product development. Joe has represented (and its affiliates Genealogical Publishing Company and Clearfield Company) at genealogy conferences and trade shows over the course of his career. He is married with two grown children, and is of Eastern European descent.



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