Last updated: 12/28/2009
Washington, District of Columbia
801 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
phone: 202-383-1850
Easily accessible to Washington's Metrorail and Metrobus system
Sunday, Tuesday - Saturday10 AM - 5 PM
Kiplinger Research Library
Tuesday - Saturday10 AM - 5 PM
The Historical Society is closed on July 4th and Thanksgiving.
Free, group tours available
Museum Type(s)
Sandy Bellamy, Executive Director
phone: 202-383-1810
Margaret Hutto, Exhibits Director
phone: 202-383-1832
Yvonne Carignan, Director, Research Library & Collections
phone: 202-383-1851
Elizabeth Dreux, Director, Special Events
phone: 202-383-1829

As a Smithsonian Affiliate institution, our exhibits feature items on loan as well as pieces from our own collection. HSW over 27 featured exhibits planned over the next four years. Recent and upcoming exhibits include: Riots are the Language of the Unheard, an illustrated history of the 1968 riots; Voting Rights and Wilson Building Architecture; Quilts for Obama; and Portraying Lincoln, as part of the Lincoln bicentennial celebration.

In addition to our exhibits, HSW's public programs engage residents and visitors by providing a forum for sharing the city's history through HSW's lecture series, films, discussions, historic walking tours, Heritage Month-related programming, and children's hands-on workshops.

The Historical Society of Washington, DC's Kiplinger Research Library is a free resource for scholars and the public to research D.C. history. HSW also publishes Washington History magazine and contributes to the Annual Conference on DC Historical Studies.'


The Historical Society of Washington, DC is dedicated to collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and celebrating the many stories of Washington, DC – hometown and nation’s capital.


The Historical Society of Washington, DC was chartered by Congress in 1894 as the Columbia Historical Society. The society changed its name to the Historical Society of Washington, DC in 1988. HSW began its stewardship of the District’s historic Carnegie library building at Mount Vernon Square in 1999. After a complete renovation process, the Carnegie building crowns the new cultural corridor in Washington’s downtown.

Artifact Collections

HSW maintains a growing collection of art and artifacts, ranging from fine art to toys and tools. Art holdings include portraits, the Fastov collection of 19th century paintings and Lily Spandorf’s “Washington Never More” collection of 155 mid-20th century Washington scenes. The Thomas G. Machen Print Collection forms the core of the Library's extensive 19th century print collection, including over 530 engravings, lithographs and woodcuts. Other graphic arts collections include the Newton Collection of 19th century pencil sketches and the cartoons of Richard H. Mansfield and Clifford Berryman. Washington businesses are represented by artifacts from Woodward & Lothrop, Hechinger’s, the Heurich Brewery, old hotels and others. The Woodville collection consists of nearly a thousand objects from the household of an old Washington family. Local political memorabilia includes ribbons, buttons and other campaign items.

Research Collections

HSW's collections reflect more than a century of collecting. We have amassed an extensive archive of Washington materials. Our photographic collection contains over 100,000 images beginning with the 1840s. Our manuscript division includes more than 650 discrete collections of records documenting the history of District families and institutions from all social, ethnic, and economic backgrounds. These collections can be searched online.


Access: General Public, Students, Scholars, Members

Appointment required: No


HSW issues the following resources: *Washington History, a semi-annual history magazine; *Quarterly event newsletters to; our membership and subscribers; and *A published annual report.

  • Washington History magazine
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    Richmond, Virginia

    Riggs Ward Design (RWD) is an award-winning experience planning and design studio headquartered in historic Richmond, Virginia. Over the past 24 years, we have provided experience design, strategic master planning, interpretive planning, research, content analysis, and storyline development for museums, universities, corporations, and cultural institutions. RWD’s services also include exhibit ephemera, books, and fundraising campaign materials.

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