Researching Monuments, Memorials and Museums in Washington, D.C.
Selecting a Topic
Finding Materials in the WRLC catalog
From the AU Library’s homepage If you are sure you have the exact name of the monument, you might get better results using quotation marks to search as a phrase. In the second “Search for:” box, type Washington D.C.
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.
Also useful is Memorials and Monuments in the Nation's Capital: Background, Establishment and Related Issues (edited by Julius Hines). The book is based on Library of Congress Congressional Research Service (CRS) publications on the topic of memorials and monuments. The call number is KFD 1598.9 .S77 2016. Additional CRS Reports are included in the database ProQuest Congressional.
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.
AU 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.
Determining which database to search will depend on the topic selected. Ask-A-Librarian for assistance in selecting and searching the databases. You can call 202 885-3238, chat or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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 (http://nps.gov) for many of D.C.’s memorials.
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 conveniently located across the street from the 9th St. Exit of the Gallery Place stop on the Red Line. The library’s website, www.dclibrary.org, 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. Be sure to check out the DigDC website.
The Historical Society of Washington, DC, located in the old Carnegie Public Library at Mt. Vernon Square (8th & K Streets, NW), has an excellent research library. http://www.historydc.org/Do_Research/research.asp
The Library of Congress also has a Local History & Genealogy Reading Room. A reader ID card may be required: www.loc.gov/rr/readerregistration.html
Prepared by Kathryn Ray, Reference Librarian, American University Library Revised July 2019
Off the Tourist’s Beaten Path: Consider these DC Sites:
(Note- Some sites may charge admission or require tickets. Please consult their websites. Always call in advance to confirm.)
See also the Cultural Tourism Website
American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial
Anacostia Neighborhood Museum
Arlington Memorial Bridge
Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral
Botanic Gardens (Capitol Hill)
Boy Scout Monument
C & O Canal Georgetown Visitors Center (closed for renovation)
Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum
Columbus Fountain/Union Station
Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Hdq.
Dupont Circle Fountain
Einstein Statue/ National Academy of Sciences
Explorers’ Hall National Geographic Society
Female Union Band Cemetery (Georgetown)
Folger Shakespeare Library (Puck)
Frederick Douglass Home
Georgetown Waterfront Park – Serenity Circle/Maze
Hirshhorn (sculpture museum & garden)
Historical Society of Washington, DC (temporarily closed for renovations)
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
Lockkeeper's House (National Mall)
Martin Luther King Memorial Library Mural (currently closed for renovations)
Meridian Hill Park / Joan of Arc / Dante
National Archives – Declaration of Independence & Constitution
Lillian & Albert Small Jewish Museum
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
National Building Museum
National Museum of African American History and Culture
National Museum of Women in the Arts
National Zoo (great artwork!)
Naval Observatory (limited access)
Nelson Mandela statue (South Africa Embassy)
Oak Hill Cemetery (Georgetown)
Old Post Office (now Trump Hotel)
Tudor Place (Peter House in Georgetown)
Red Cross National Headquarters
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
Spirit of Freedom (honoring African-American military vets)
Spirit of Haida Gwaii (Canadian Embassy)
St Matthew’s Cathedral (site of JFK funeral)
Temperance Fountain and Statue
US Navy Memorial
Woman’s National Democratic Club
Woodrow Wilson's Home
Have fun! Kathryn Ray, Reference Librarian American University 1/21