Library of Congress

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United States of America
Library of Congress
   Local History and Genealogy Reading Room

Library of Congress Jefferson Building.jpg

Contact Information

E-mail:  Ask a Librarian[1]


Local History and Genealogy Reading Room
101 Independence Ave. SE
Thomas Jefferson Building, LJ G4
Washington, D.C. 20540-4660

Telephone:[1]  Reading Room: 202-707-5537
Fax:[1]  202-707-1957

Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 8:30am - 9:30pm[2]

Tuesday, Friday, Saturday 8:30am - 5:00pm
Closed Sundays and federal holidays

Public transportation, maps, and directions:

  • Subway. Exit Metrorail Orange or Blue Line Capitol South subway statiion, on 1st Street go north one block to Independence Ave., then east almost to 2nd Street. Use the Jefferson Building southeast back entrance.
  • Buses. Metrobuses 32, 34, 36, 39, 922, 929, 995, A11, C40, and CIRC stop near Independence Ave and 1st Street.
  • map of the location in the city
  • map of the Thomas Jefferson Building; the Local History & Genealogy Reading Room is in the southeast corner.
Wikipedia has more about this subject: Library of Congress

Internet sites and databases:

Collection Description

Established in 1800, the original small library was destroy during the British invasion of 1814. Thomas Jefferson offered his own personal library of 6,487 books as a replacement. Since becoming the U.S. copyright repository it has grown to the largest library in the world. It serves both houses of Congress, and is open to the public.[3]

The Local History and Genealogy Reading Room has 50,000 genealogies, 100,000 local histories, rich in collections of manuscripts, microfilms, maps, newspapers, photographs, published material, bibliographies, and research guides. It is strong in North American, British Isles, and German sources.[2]  Internet subscription service databases include Ancestry, HeritageQuest, Accessable Archives, New England Ancestors, as well as America History and Life, ArchivesUSA, Biography and Genealogy Master Index, JSTOR, and ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

The larger library also has incomparable royalty, nobility, and heraldry collections, making it one of a few libraries in America that offer such a combination.


  • Before a visit to the LH&G Reading Room, be sure to read Before You Begin about obtaining a Reader I.D. Card.


Alternate Repositories

If you cannot visit or find a record at the Library of Congress, a similar record may be available at one of the following.

Similar Collections

  • Family History Library, Salt Lake City, 450 computers, 3,400 databases, 3.1 million microforms, 4,500 periodicals, 310,000 books of worldwide family and local histories, civil, church, immigration, ethnic, military, Mormon records.
  • Allen County Public Library (Indiana) has a premier genealogical periodical collection, genealogies, local histories, databases, military, censuses, directories, passenger lists, American Indians, African Americans, Canadians.
  • New York Public Library international genealogy, heraldry, personal and family names (in Roman alphabets), family papers, Dorot Jewish collection, maps, periodicals, American history at national, state, and local levels.
  • New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, national scope, 100 million name databases, 200,000 books, 100,000 microfilms, 20 million manuscrpt pages, vital records, periodicals for U.S., Canada, & Britsh Isles. 
  • Newberry Library a large Chicago repository with genealogies, local histories, censuses, military, land, indexes, vital records, court, and tax records mostly from the Mississippi Valley, eastern seaboard, Canada, & British Isles.
  • California State Library–Sutro, San Francisco, best west coast genealogy collection for states outside California, 7,000 family histories. 35,000 local histories and vital records, federal census microfilms, and Mexican history.
  • Mid-Continent Public Library Midwest Genealogy Center, Independence, MO, national censuses/indexes, 80,000 family histories, 100,000 local histories, 565,000 microfilms, 7,000 maps, and extensive newspaper clippings.
  • Dallas Public Central Library 111,700 volumes, 64,500 microfilms, 89,000 microfiche, and over 700 maps, marriage, probate, deed, and tax abstracts in book form, or microfilm of originals for some states, and online databases.
  • NARA National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, government and military personnel records starting 1917.
  • St. Louis County Library, mostly Missouri, but includes St. Louis Genealogical, and National Genealogical Societies' collections, online databases, federal censuses, African American records, & access to LDS microfilms.

Neighboring Collections

  • National Archives I, Washington DC, census, pre-WWI military service & pensions, passenger lists, naturalizations, passports, federal bounty land, homesteads, bankruptcy, ethnic sources, prisons, and federal employees.
  • National Archives II  Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, and Treasury all after 1900.
  • Daughters of the American Revolution Library, Washington DC, Revolutionary War and colonial period, including family and local histories, cemetery transcriptions, Bible records, 15,000 genealogical membership applications.
  • DC Vital Records Division for birth and death records. DC Superior Court for marriage and divorce records.
  • Maryland State Archives, census, court, church, vital, military, probate, land, tax, immigration, naturalizations.
  • Library of Virginia, digital sources, databases, vital, military, newspapers, periodicals, tax, history, land records.
  • Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, vital, census, immigration, naturalization, military, land, and employment.
  • Biblioteca Nacional de México, Mexico City, reference help, lectures, maps, history, manuscripts.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Contact Information" in The Library of Congress [Internet site] at (accessed 12 May 2010).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Local History and Genealogy Reading Room" in The Library of Congress [Internet site] at (accessed 12 May 2010).
  3. "History" in The Library of Congress [Internet site] at (accessed 18 October 2008).

See also A Checklist of Compiled Sources & Where to Find Them