Albert H. Small Center for National Capital Area Studies Reading Room

Photo of study center
Photo by Bryan Becker Photography

With the museum’s Washingtoniana Collection as a centerpiece, the Albert H. Small Center for National Capital Area Studies engages students, scholars, and the public in research and educational programs pertaining to our nation’s capital. The reading room houses a non-circulating library of books relating to D.C. history—including rare books and bound congressional acts tracing the city’s developmentas well as an extensive flat-file collection of maps, illustrative prints, newspapers, and tourist ephemera items.


Plan a Visit

Reading Room Hours

The reading room is open for research by appointment only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. To schedule an appointment, please email washingtoniana@gwu.edu with your requested items and a completed research access form. You can also print the form and present it at your appointment.

Getting Here

The study center is located on the lower level of the museum's historic Woodhull House. Enter through the main museum entrance at 701 21st Street, NW (get directions). Leave any large coats, food or drink, and backpacks in a secure locker off the lobby. Keys are available at the front desk. You will then go to the second floor of the museum, cross the bridge to the Woodhull House, and take the stairs or the elevator to the first floor. The study center is in Room 191. 

Permitted Items

  • Pencils and paper
  • Notebooks and journals
  • Laptops, cameras, phones (flash and sound must be turned off at all times)

Prohibited Items

  • Bags
  • Food and drink
  • Pens
  • Sharp objects

All prohibited items should be checked in the coat room of the museum lobby prior to entering the reading room.


Explore the Collections

Reference Library

The reading room houses a non-circulating library of books relating to D.C. history. The titles are being made searchable in the university’s Gelman Library system.

Flat Files

Highlights include:

  • Wide variety of maps of the city and surrounding areas during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
  • Prints and illustrations of nineteenth and early twentieth-century Washington, D.C., architecture, landscapes, city views, social life, and political events
  • Images of the built environment, with a focus on the White House and Capitol
  • Early Washington, D.C., newspapers
  • Pamphlets and ephemera relating to tourism and travel

Search our online finding aids to request an item:

The Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection

Albert H. Small donated to GW his unrivaled collection of 1,000 maps and prints, rare letters, photographs, and drawings that document the history of Washington, D.C.

D.C. Mondays at the Museum

The museum's Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection inspires weekly lunchtime talks on changing D.C. topics.