The Kiplingers, a prominent Washington business dynasty, started collecting rare photographs and prints of Washington in the 1920s. They assembled work dating back to 1791, added the work of Civil War photographers Mathew Brady and Alexander Gardner, and then gathered examples of Washington history through the mid-20th century.
They are now turning over their 4,000 piece collection to the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., the officials of the Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. announced Wednesday.
The collection contains historic material, from almost every stage in Washington’s development. There’s an early map of Pierre L’Enfant plan for Washington. A four-plate engraved map of Virginia and Maryland was made by surveyors Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson’s father.
The collection expands the examples of Mathew Brady’s work in Washington. His subjects in the Kiplinger collection included inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, painter Rembrandt Peale and Amos Kendall, the founder of Gallaudet University.
And in the 1950s W. M. Kiplinger hired painters and photographers to record buildings and houses that were being demolished. “Vanishing Washington,” more than 120 oil and watercolor paintings and hundreds of photographs, many by William Edmund Barrett, is one core of the collection. The paintings include the old Western Market at 21st and K Streets N.W. and the Metro construction of the 1970s.
Austin Kiplinger, chairman emeritus of the Kiplinger organization, is a longtime trustee of the Historical Society. He co-chaired the campaign in the late 1990s to restore the Carnegie Library, the headquarters of the group. The historic building and the Historical Society have had financial ups and downs but recently agreed to share its sprawling space with Events DC, the city’s convention and sports authority. There are plans for a new visitors center in the location, across from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and at the northern tip of the 7th Street entertainment and shopping area.