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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

  • A good place to start is 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.
  • Additional guidebooks on Washington, D.C. are shelved with the local history reference books on the first floor and in the circulating stacks in call numbers F191 through F205 on the second floor.
  • General books on D.C. are on the second floor in F191 – F205.  Books on specific monuments, memorials and museums may 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 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

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 ( 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 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. 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.

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 July 2019

List of Monuments and Memorials


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

Chinatown Arch

C & O Canal Georgetown Visitors Center (closed for renovation)

Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum

Columbus Fountain/Union Station

Congressional Cemetery

Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) 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 (temporarily closed for renovations)

Holodomor Memorial

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

Lockkeeper's House (National Mall)

Martin Luther King Memorial Library Mural (currently closed for renovations)

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 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)

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

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

Titanic Memorial

US Navy Memorial

Washington Cathedral

Woman’s National Democratic Club

Woodrow Wilson's Home


Have fun! Kathryn Ray, Reference Librarian American University 1/21