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Search Our Collections

The Anacostia Community Museum aspires to provide access to all of its collections through the Smithsonian Collections Search Center. Using the Search Collections tool, you can find catalogue records and images of the museum’s object and archival collections holdings.

Archives Collection

The Anacostia Community Museum has collected art, objects, archives, and associated stories almost from the moment it opened in 1967. Focusing for many years on exhibits and interpretation, the museum increased its collecting activities in the early 1990s and worked to develop a collection that reflected the museum’s mission. Over the course of twenty years, the museum has developed a collection that emphasizes daily life in communities both in Washington, DC, and around the world through a strong collection of photographs, audiovisual recordings, manuscripts, correspondence and ephemera. The Anacostia Community Museum seeks to provide insight into the ways that people gather and live in contemporary urban communities.

Our collections are broadly broken down into the following categories:

Discrete Collections
Holdings include the personal papers of individuals with local or national reputations. These collections frequently contain these individuals’ or organizations’ correspondence, photographs and other manuscript materials. A list of these collections with descriptions and finding aids can be found here.

Exhibition Records
These records document the museum’s myriad exhibits from 1967 to the present and also complement the institutional records held by Smithsonian Institution Archives. The exhibitions of the Anacostia Community Museum (and Anacostia Neighborhood Museum before it) frequently represent the earliest examples of research about communities. As such, the accumulation of primary and secondary source materials in these collections offer comprehensive resources for thematic research.

Photographic Materials
The archives house over 50,000 images, with the strength residing in the visual documentation of the community, exhibitions, programs, and educational and outreach material spanning the museum’s history. The collection also includes works by historical and contemporary celebrated photographers. Among these photographers are Arthur P. Bedou, Prentice Herman Polk (P. H. Polk), Addison N. Scurlock, Carl Van Vechten, Ernest C. Withers, Robert H. McNeill, Titus Brooks Heagins, Kerry Coppin, Dennis C. Calhoun, and Fern Logan. In addition, the Dorn C. McGrath Jr. slide collection dates from 1969 to 2000 and provides an extensive resource of the built and natural environments of the Anacostia community.

Special Collections
The archives include over 200 volumes of books dating from the early 19th century to the present. Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral by Phillis Wheatley is the earliest publication in the collection. Posters, sheet music, pamphlets, vertical files, and audiovisual materials are also among the holdings in the Anacostia Community Museum Archives.