If you are researching your neighborhood, others may have done some of your work for you. Libraries, historical societies and bookstores abound with local histories. Here are a few:
* Washington: A History of the Capital, 1800-1950, by Constance McLaughlin Green. Originally two separate volumes. The first, through 1878, won the Pulitzer Prize for history. In 1976, after Green's death, Princeton University Press combined both volumes into a paperback of more than 1,000 pages. Many historians agree it is the best book about the city.
* The Anacostia Story: 1608-1930, by Louise Daniel Hutchinson. Published by the Smithsonian Institution in conjunction with an exhibit at the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum.
* Tenleytown, D.C.: Country Village Into City Neighborhood, by Judith Beck Helm. Published locally last year. Available through Tennally Press, Box 9438, Washington D.C. 20016.
* Records of the Columbia Historical Society of Washington D.C. Essays collected in 50 bound volumes, going back to 1894.
* A Selected Bibliography for Washington Studies and Descriptions of Major Local Collections, by Perry G. Fisher and Linda J. Lear. Available from the Center for Washington Area Studies at George Washington University. The center also has compiled a bibliography of academic theses and dissertations about the Washington, D.C., region, and has published monographs on three neighborhoods: Foggy Bottom, Adams Morgan and Brookland.
Whatever history books you read, however, keep in mind the words of Constance Green explaining why she filled her books with hundreds of footnotes:
"Apocryphal stories about Washington's past are probably more prolific than about any other city in America. The shelves of Washingtonia collections are filled with volumes, readable and dull alike, which give no clue to what the authors drew upon in compiling their accounts . . .
"Lest the reader be put off by the dreary ponderosity of some of these footnotes, let me point out that the most deadly looking items frequently contain intensely interesting data."