Washington DC City Guide
Get the essential facts, advice and resources you need to find your ancestors in Washington DC.
Between 1776 and 1800, Congress met in temporary locations in New York City and Philadelphia. When it came time to pick a permanent US capital, however, the Northern and Southern states couldn’t agree. So who ultimately chose the location for our nation’s capital, Washington, DC?

George Washington, of course. In 1791, Maryland and Virginia donated 100 square miles straddling the Potomac. Nov. 21, 1800, almost a year after Washington’s death, Congress met in the new capital for the first time. Today, the Washington, DC, metro area extends far beyond the original territory, and the local economy revolves around the federal government and tourism. Home to major repositories such as the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Library of Congress (LOC) and the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Library, DC is a genealogist’s dream—and one of the nation’s roots research capitals.