How-To: Historic Newspaper Research

By Kirsten L. Case, PhD

The local “newspaper of record” for many decades.

The most user-friendly source of historic newspapers is the Library of Congress website “Chronicling America” (chroniclingamerica.loc.gov), which provides free access to a searchable network of digitized newspapers from across the country. The Advanced Search tab allows you to select a specific state, or the District of Columbia, to search within, and gives you multiple options for key word searches.

For Montgomery County, it is always a good idea to try each search in both Maryland and the District of Columbia. The “Evening Star” (Washington, D.C.) was considered the newspaper of record for many decades, and it is also a wonderful source of social news for the city and the
surrounding counties. The “Montgomery County Sentinel” is another important local newspaper in the database.

Editor’s note: If you would like to be part of an organized approach to neighborhood history research — or if you come across any interesting information related to neighborhood history that you’d be willing to share with neighbors — contact the North Woodside History Group.

Digging into Neighborhood History

On February 16, 2022, many neighbors tuned into an online training by Kirsten L. Crase, PhD, University of Maryland, on how to research the history of their homes. The training inspired a search of historic newspaper digital archives for articles related to the neighborhood. Among many fascinating finds, neighbors uncovered a plethora of original advertisements for North Woodside homes. Can you find these homes today?

Source: Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. Dates/Pages (left to right): September 15, 1928, Page 23; August 21, 1936, Page 16; September 6, 1930, Page B2; April 25, 1931, Page B2.

Many of the old North Woodside advertisements, such as the large one above, tout the
“exclusive” nature of the community and “the protection of its sensible restrictions,” not-so-subtle allusions to racially restrictive deed covenants.

For more information on researching the history of your home:

And if you discover your home has a racist deed covenant:

Historical Maps of North Woodside

North Woodside in 1929. Source of Map: Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Some links to a bunch of historical maps that show North Woodside in its younger days  (zoom in just above the northern tip of DC to where it says “Woodside”)

  • 1891 (year after our neighborhood was established)
  • 1893 (shows the neighborhood lies ~7.5 miles from White House)
  • 1917 (shows bridge that preceded the historic Talbot Avenue Bridge, built in 1918 and demolished in 2019) Note: if you live in one of the oldest houses in the neighborhood you should be able to find your house on this one.
  • 1918
  • 1924
  • 1929 (#1)
  • 1929 (#2) Note: many more neighbors should be able to find their houses on this one — particularly those living in bungalows and Sears Kit houses on Grace Church, Hanover, Glen Ross, Luzerne, and 2nd.

So interesting to imagine what this area looked like back then. Very little development and no Beltway yet!