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DC History & Local Area Studies

This guide recommends resources about the history, local government, and current situation in Washington, D.C.

How to research monuments and memorials at the AU Library


Researching Monuments, Memorials and Museums in Washington, D.C.



Selecting a Topic


The Dorling Kindersley (DK) Travel Guide to Washington, D.C. is shelved with the travel guides on the first floor of the American University Library. General guidebooks on Washington, D.C. are shelved with the local history reference books and in the stacks in call numbers F191 through F205.  General books on D.C. are on the second floor in F191 – F205.  Books on specific monuments, memorials and museums may also be shelved with the art and architecture books on the lower level, or in some cases with history or the social sciences.  Use the WRLC catalog to find the call numbers.


Finding Materials in the WRLC catalog


            From the AU Library’s homepage under RESEARCH, click on SEARCH THE CATALOG.  Select the ADVANCED SEARCH option. In the first “Search for:” box, enter your topic (e.g. National Gallery of Art or Jefferson Memorial or Textile Museum) and from the pull down menu, select “as a phrase.” Leave “Keyword anywhere” in the “Search in:” box.  In the second “Search for:” box, type Washington D.C. (use the periods, but no comma) Select “all of these” from the pull down menu.


The book, Washington Sculpture :A Cultural History of Outdoor Sculpture in the Nation's Capital  by James M. Goode, is the single most useful book on this topic.


            George Washington University’s Gelman Library has an extensive collection of Washington, D.C.-related materials.  Items marked “Special Collections” are for reference only (they may not be borrowed.)  Check GW’s website for access procedures.


The Library’s homepage as a resource

This DC History page has recommended DATABASES for locating journal articles, useful WEBSITES, selected PRINT RESOURCES (books) relating to Washington, DC., NEWSPAPERS  & MAPS.


Depending on the topic, useful databases may also listed in the ART Subject Guide. 


The Historical Society of Washington, D.C.’s journal Washington History and its precursor, Records of the Columbia Historical Society are available full text in the database JSTOR. Determining which database to search will depend on the topic selected.  Ask the Reference Librarians at the Reference Desk for assistance in selecting and searching the databases.  You can call 202 885-3238, IM or email


Searching the Web


A list of recommended websites is on the library’s homepage under SUBJECT GUIDES.


When using Google, use quotation marks around your topic (“Lincoln Memorial”) and type Washington DC.  Keep in mind that the most reliable sites will have the file extensions .org [organization], .edu [educational], .mil [military] and .gov [government].  The National Park Service maintains excellent websites ( for many of D.C.’s memorials.


Additional Resources


            The D.C. Public Library’s Washingtoniana Division of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library (MLKML) is devoted to materials about Washington, D.C.  MLKML is currently closed for renovation - check out the DigDC website.  When it reopens...  MLKML is conveniently located across the street from the 9th St. Exit of the Gallery Place stop on the Red Line.   The library’s website,, gives a description of the collection and their hours of operation.  All of Washingtoniana’s materials are for reference only.  Some titles may be available for check out in the History Division.  An AU student may get a D.C. Public Library card by presenting any valid photo ID and a piece of stamped mail showing a local address.

            The Historical Society of Washington, DC, located at Mt. Vernon Square, has an excellent research library.

The Library of Congress also has a Local History & Genealogy Reading Room.  A reader ID card may be required:


Prepared by Kathryn Ray, Reference Librarian,  American University Library  Revised 11/13

List of Monuments and Memorials


Off the Tourist’s Beaten Path: Consider these DC Sites:

(Note- Some sites may charge admission. Please check out the websites.  Always call in advance to confirm.)

See also the Cultural Tourism Website

Anacostia Neighborhood Museum

Arlington Memorial Bridge

Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral

Botanic Gardens (Capitol Hill)

Boy Scout Monument

Chinatown Arch

C & O Canal Georgetown Visitors Center (closed)

Columbus Fountain/Union Station

Congressional Cemetery

Daughters of the American Revolution Hdq.

Dumbarton Oaks

Dupont Circle Fountain

Eastern Market

Einstein Statue/ National Academy of Sciences

Explorers’ Hall National Geographic Society

FBI Museum

FDR Memorial

Female Union Band Cemetery (Georgetown)

Folger Shakespeare Library (Puck)

Ford’s Theater

Franciscan Monastery/Catacombs

Frederick Douglass Home

Georgetown Waterfront Park – Serenity Circle/Maze

Hillwood Museum

Hirshhorn (sculpture museum & garden)

Historical Society of Washington, DC

Japanese Pagoda & Lantern (Tidal Basin)

Japanese-American Patriotism in WW II

John A. Wilson Building (DC Council Offices)

Kahlil Gibran  meditation garden

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Lars Anderson House (Society of the Cincinnati)

Library of Congress Great Hall

Lincoln Cottage (Soldiers’ Home)

Lincoln Park/Bethune Memorial

Lincoln Theater

Martin Luther King Memorial Library Mural

Meridian Hill Park / Joan of Arc / Dante

National Arboretum

National Archives – Declaration of Independence & Constitution

Lillian & Albert Small Jewish Museum

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

National Building Museum

National Museum of Women in the Arts

National Zoo (great artwork!)

Naval Observatory (limited access)

Nelson Mandela statue (South Africa embassy) - Dedicated 2013


Oak Hill Cemetery (Georgetown)

Old Post Office (check out the view from the tower- may be closing soon for renovation)

Tudor Place (Peter House in Georgetown)

Phillips Gallery

Red Cross National Headquarters

Renwick Gallery

Rock Creek Cemetery (find the Clover Adams memorial)

Rock Creek Park Nature Center&Planetarium

Scottish Rite Freemasons’ Temple

Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Society of Colonial Dames

South Africa Embassy Nelson Mandela Statue

Spirit of Freedom (honoring African-American military vets)

Spirit of Haida Gwaii (Canadian Embassy)

St Matthew’s Cathedral (site of JFK funeral)

Textile Museum (Woodrow Wilson’s home)

Titanic Memorial

US Navy Memorial

Washington Cathedral

Woman’s National Democratic Club

Have fun! Kathryn Ray, Reference Librarian American University 9/13