Welcome to Washington, D.C., History Matters

The history of Washington, D.C., is both national and local. Since its founding in 1790, the city has served as home to both the federal government and to hundreds of thousands of residents, some of whom are deeply involved in the nation's affairs while others live lives hardly different from those in any other American city.

This site presents the history of the Washington area using digitized primary documents and data, for the use of students, professional historians, and the general public. Its goal is to make accessible to a broad audience some of the wonderful materials usually seen only by scholars with the time and expertise to explore archival collections. While we have offered some editorial introductions and notes, we hope that visitors will use these materials to ask and answer their own questions.

The site is divided into a series of modules, each presenting a particular debate or theme. We invite you to explore.