Research

Learning More about Takoma Park

In addition to Historic Takoma’s Reading Room and Research Archives, a variety of tools and resources available for those those interested in learning more about Takoma Park and the surrounding area. Historic Takoma volunteers are available to help with getting you started on research and navigating the various sources and tools. If you have a question send a note to question@historictakoma.org

Getting Started

A number of online tools and sources are available to assist you.

Property history – Tracing the history of a house (or other property) provides information not only about the age of the house, but also about the families that lived there, and the evolution of subdivisions, streets, and other development. These guides will get you started. Once you’ve done some research consider adding it to the Takoma Houses project to share your insights with others.

Newspaper searches  Newspapers are a great source of information about people, events, businesses, and the like. Newspaper searches for names and addresses complement property history searches, providing further insights about people and buildings. The Library of Congress Chronicling America collection is easily searchable. Newspapers archives are also available through the DC Public Library as well as Historic Takoma’s own Newspaper Collection.

Census records – The decennial federal census collects information not just about name and address, but occupation, income, marital status, national origin, and home ownership. Census information for Takoma Park is available from 1900 through 1940. These records are available through a variety of source such as Ancestry.com and the Library of Congress.

Maps – A variety of current and historical maps show the evolution of Takoma Park and the surrounding area, including streets and roads, subdivisions, and locations of houses. Current land ownership and other land use characteristics appear on the Montgomery County and District of Columbia digital atlases. Maps of Maryland subdivisions can be found in the State of Maryland plats index. The Library of Congress has digitized a number of Takoma area maps that available online, like this Baist’s Real Estate map from 1904. Some of the maps in Historic Takoma’s Research Archives can be found here.

Family histories – Genealogical research is a useful tool to supplement property and house history research, as well as learning more about the people that preceded us. A variety of tools and sources are available as listed below. Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.com area common tools for tracing family histories, but many other sources and tools are also available. Free access is available through the Library of Congress, National Archives, DC Public Library, and Montgomery Public Library.

City Directories – City directories contain alphabetical listings of residents and businesses. Many also contain street cross references. Early city directories often included occupational information as well. Sources of city directories are listed below. Historic Takoma has local directories for 1922 and 1933. City directories are available in many libraries including Library of Congress and the People’s Archive of the DC Public Library. Online directories are available from various locations including:

Land Records

Maryland Land Record Information
District of Columbia Land Record Information

Additional Resources

Historic Takoma Newspaper Collection –  Digital versions of early local newspapers are available from the Historic Takoma Archives. They were created from microfilms that were part of the collection of the Takoma Park Historical Society and transferred to Historic Takoma. Digitizing the microfilms was funded in part by the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission Grant Fund. https://tinyurl.com/akjtyhmm

Takoma Park Council Meeting Minutes – The complete minutes of the Town/City Council minutes are available through the City of Takoma Park. Council meeting materials are also available from the City. https://takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-clerk/takoma-park-archives/

Library of Congress – The Library of Congress has extensive collections of books, maps, newspapers, directories, and other materials, many of which are available online. Access to materials in the reading rooms requires obtaining a free library card. Searching for and downloading digitized materials does not. The library also provides free access to various databases such as Ancestry.com while at the library. One of the best online resources is Chronicling America, a free database of newspapers around the country including many in the Washington area. Loc.gov

National Archives and Records Administration – The National Archives contains the records of the federal government (including early records of the City of Washington and the District of Columbia) such as maps, reports and studies, and correspondence. Many records are searchable online. Access to non-digitized records requires obtaining a free Researchers card. The main Archives building (Archives I) in downtown Washington has most of the materials of interest. Maps and related records are available at Archives II in College Park, Maryland. The Archives also provides free access to Ancestry.com while on site. https://www.archives.gov/

Montgomery History  – The Montgomery County Historical Society manages a 9,500 piece collection of historic artifacts and operates the Jane C. Sween Research Library and Special Collections, and the Montgomery County Archives. It also provides a home for the Genealogical Society and Harper Center for Suburban Studies. Their collections along with many exhibits are searchable online. The library collection includes books, maps, periodicals, and other records. Members may use the library for free; non-members pay a modest daily fee. https://www.montgomeryhistory.org/

The DC History Center (officially “The Historical Society of Washington, D.C”). – The DC History Center is an educational and research organization that collects, interprets, and shares the history of our nation’s capital. The DC History Center is located in the historic Carnegie Library building at Mount Vernon Square, Washington, DC.  The Kiplinger Research Library is a non-circulating, special collections repository available by appointment. http://dchistory.org/

Montgomery County Libraries – Free access, with a library card, to HeritageQuest® Online, containing genealogical sources such as  primary sources, local and family histories, research guides, interactive census maps, and more.  https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/library/

Washingtoniana Collection of the DC Public Library – This collection, now part of The People’s Archive, includes the Evening Star Photo Collection, DC Historical Image Collection, vertical files, books, maps,  and a variety of records on microfilm: building permits, directories, newspapers tax assessment, and genealogical materials. https://www.dclibrary.org/thepeoplesarchive

DC Public Libraries – With a free library card, access to digital newspapers, HeritageQuest, and Ancestry.com. https://www.dclibrary.org/godigital

Silver Spring Historical Society – The mission of the Silver Spring Historical Society is to create and promote awareness and appreciation of downtown Silver Spring’s heritage through sponsorship of educational activities and the preservation and protection of historical sites, structures, artifacts and archives. http://silverspringhistory.homestead.com/

Maryland Center for History and CultureFormerly the The Maryland Historical Society, the Center operates a museum and the H. Furlong Baldwin Library in downtown Baltimore and maintains an online catalog of their collections at www.mdhistory.org

State of Maryland Archives – The State Archives serves as the central depository for government records of permanent value. Its holdings date from Maryland’s founding in 1634, and include colonial and state executive, legislative, and judicial records; county probate, land, and court records; church records; business records; state publications and reports; and special collections of private papers, maps, photographs, and newspapers. https://msa.maryland.gov/msa/homepage/html/homepage.html