RESEARCH

(About the Collection. Access, Donations to the Collection)

“Explore our Collection”

About the Collection

The Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives is the official museum and repository of documents and artifacts related to the District of Columbia Public School System. The Sumner Archives, documenting the history of public education in our Nation’s Capital, is the only comprehensive collection of its kind in the United States.

The foundation of the collection includes DC Board of Education meeting minutes, annual reports, committee reports and other papers, which date back to the establishment of the public school system in 1804. Of interest to genealogists is the extensive collection of student registers from approximately 1850 to the 1940s, and the large number of teacher and custodial staff registers from the post-Civil War era to the late 1930s.

The Sumner Collection also contains considerable holdings of school system administrative materials and informal materials relating to the history of the schools including newspaper clippings, newsletters, and correspondences. The collection also includes material culture related to individual DC public schools consisting of building and class photographs, yearbooks, school newspapers, trophies, band uniforms and other related ephemera. Considerable papers on individuals and subjects, as well as a small collection related to the city’s teachers colleges supplement the collection.

Explore The Collection

The Archives are accessible by appointment only. To request an appointment, please e-mail us at info.sumnerschool@dc.gov or call 202-730-0473 and leave a detailed message regarding your research needs. Lockers are provided on the Ground Floor to store all personal belongings. Researchers are not allowed to carry coats, purses or other bags into research areas. The Archives has a photocopier and scanner. The research areas have outlets allowing use of portable computers and researchers are allowed to bring cameras. Material may be put aside for use on successive visits only. Click HERE for details.

General Rules and Procedures

Access to materials is conditional upon adherence to these rules.

The reference archivist enforces the rules and is available to answer questions about handling, reproduction, and other uses of the collections.  Electronic surveillance is in use.

  • Researchers are not permitted in the stacks.
  • Collections do not circulate and may not be removed from the reading room.
  • Researchers are limited to one box on the table at a time.
  • Maintain original order.  Remove one item or folder at a time and flag its location with the markers provided.
  • Work slowly and carefully to prevent records from being crumpled, torn, or broken.  Rushing through archival collections endangers the materials.
  • Return material to the box before leaving the reading room.  Do not leave materials unattended.
  • Initial your container list after you have used each box.
  • Use the note paper and pencils provided
  • No eating, drinking, or smoking in the reading room.

Handling Paper Collections

In all cases

  • Rest materials flat on the table.  Turn the items in a folder like pages in a book.
  • Do not use original materials as an arm rest or writing table.
  • Do not remove items from plastic enclosures.  See the reference archivist for assistance.
  • Neatly arrange documents in the folder before returning them to the box.
  • Never force folders back into the box. 

Oversize materials

  • Handle items one at a time with extreme care.  Ask reference archivist for assistance.
  • Do not allow material to hang over table edges.

Bound volumes

  • Never force the binding open.
  • Rest volumes flat on the table or book cradle.
  • See Reference Librarian to photocopy materials from books.

Handling Photographs and Audiovisual Collections

  • Wear the cotton gloves provided when working with photographs.
  • Handle audio and video collections and equipment with care.  Do not force tapes, CDs, or DVDs into or out of storage containers or equipment.
  • Always run audio and video tapes to the end and then rewind them completely.
  • Remove tapes from the machines.
  • Never place audio and video tapes on top of the equipment, particularly while turning the machines on or off.

Reproductions and Copyright

Sumner Museum collections are available for general and scholarly research unless specific restrictions apply.  Reproduction and publication of Sumner Museum Archival collections is permitted in most cases.  The Sumner Museum makes no warranty or representation regarding fitness for publication or reproduction of the information in its public collections. All responsibility for infringement of intellectual property rights and/or copyright is assumed by the user of the materials.  Cost recovery fees may be charged.  See the Sumner Museum “Services and Fees” handout.

Citation and credit lines: [Title and date of item], [Collection name], District of Columbia Public School Records, Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives, Washington, DC, [scan or negative number].

Photocopies

  • Researchers may photocopy material in good condition.
  • Oversize materials, some bound volumes, and fragile materials may not be photocopied.
  • Photocopy one item at a time.
  • Mark the position of any item you remove with acid-free paper flags.
  • Use a folder to carry items to the copier.
  • Return items to their proper place immediately.  Do not leave materials at/on the copy machine.
  • You may remove paper clips, spring clips and cloth ties before copying.
  • Do not remove staples or plastic enclosures.  Ask for staff assistance.
  • The first ten copies per year are free; additional copies cost twenty-five (25) cents per page. Copies are free to individuals with a valid DC Government badge.
  • When copying large amounts of material, please allow other researchers access to the copier.
  • You are limited to 300 photocopies per day.

Digital Scans, Photographic Prints, Slides, and Transparencies

Sumner Museum Archives can provide low resolution digital scans of items in our collections.

Researchers may use hand-held digital cameras to take image “notes.” Researchers may also photograph material themselves. See Sumner Museum reference staff for additional information and forms.

Commercial Photography and Filming

Commercial photography and filming requires a clearance.  Access fees may be charged.

Charles Sumner Museum & Archives

1201 17th Street NW
Washington DC 20036

Charles Sumner School Museum & Archives © 2018

Charles Sumner
Museum & Archives

1201 17th Street NW
Washington DC 20036