Ah, 19th century news

Is there anything more enjoyable than a brief item from a 19th century newspaper?

For example:

A man was taken out of the Canal last night by the Watchmen and carried to the watch-house. He was so far gone as to be unable to give any account of himself for three hours, but when he did speak he made a promise to quit “wrestling with old Ned,” and if possible keep out of the canal.

Evening Star (Washington (DC), District of Columbia), February 3, 1853: 3. 

“If possible.” Ha.

Carter G. Woodson

One of the benefits of the current location of the DC Office of Public Records is its proximity to the Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site and the Carter G. Woodson Memorial Park. On my way to the office to catch up on some work today, I stopped by the park to honor Dr. Woodson and his role in establishing Black History Month.

photo of Carter G Woodson statue

The Office of Public Records has Dr. Woodson’s will in the holdings of the DC Archives. In his will, he gave $500 each to his two brothers and one sister, and the remainder of his estate to the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History) for the publication of “The Journal of Negro History” (now named “The Journal of African American History”).

A DC.Nerd’s heaven

image of DC Code volumes 1924-1940

Shown here, my heaven. On the left, the 1901 District of Columbia Code, through 1924. Next to that, the 1901 Code amended through 1929, followed by five annual supplement volumes. The two dark blue volumes? The 1940 D.C. Code.

With so much legal material available online–and as an attorney who learned how to research cases in books while on crutches, I am eternally grateful for the commercial services that facilitate legal research–it is a joyful (and DUSTY!) day when I get to hold these old publications in my hands. Organizing these was a project last week. Next up…organizing the DCRR and DCMR.




Here I am two years after my last post sharing about pancakes. I’ll try to get back to more important things but really, pancakes are important, too. When Passover ends and you find yourself with milk (milk! that hasn’t spoiled!) and eggs and the chocolate chips you found while cleaning your kitchen in preparation for Passover, chocolate chip pancakes are a requirement.

Making pancakes–chocolate chip or not–is a pain. I found this recipe at Eating on a Dime, courtesy of a web search for “baked pancakes,” added chocolate chips, and had pancakes for Monday morning breakfast. Success!

Industry in 1915

“Lack of scientific cost-finding systems in the women’s muslin underwear industry has led to ruinous competition in the industry.” Evening Star, November 26, 1915, page 12.

Hello from the Office of Public Records

[NB: I’m not actually writing this from OPR. I hope that’s obvious.]

Last week I introduced myself to the Friends of the DC Archives. In doing so, I shared my Twitter handle, and thus exposed this here blog/website. Having done so, I figured I should share something new. Certainly my last post, suggesting that you adopt my foster cat Prince, is in need of replacement, as Prince was adopted (and now named Freddy) and my new foster, Mocha, is advocating for herself on my boys’ blog.

I’ve been the Public Records Administrator for the District for three weeks now. I’ve learned, in those three weeks, that supervising involves much more email than I realized, and I’ve discovered amazing records in our collection. (Bear in mind that I have a particularly nerdy perspective on what qualifies as “amazing.” Everyone (“everyone”) knows that we have Frederick Douglass’s will, but does everyone know that in 1987, there were 17 babies born in DC who were at least the 9th child born to the mother? Fun data!

One of the projects on my to-do list for the coming months (it’s quite a lengthy list) is to develop a social media strategy/plan. I would love to have an official outlet for publicizing our services and sharing nuggets of DC’s history. In the meantime, please remember that my observations and attempts at being witty here in this space are purely unofficial. Even if I do start a “found in the DC Archives” series. (Another thing on my to-do list? It might not happen.)