The title of this work alludes to the fact that "Washington, DC is home to the largest body of accessible research materials in the world." Its purpose is to aid family historians in tracing ancestors with the rich resources of the federal government; societies and associations; ethnic, cultural, and religious groups; military records; university archives and special collections; and specialized genealogical research libraries located in the Washington area, including Maryland and Virginia.
It is a work with roots in Lest We Forget: A Guide to Genealogical Research In the Nation's Capital, published by the Annandale [VA] Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which Schaefer is director. Many changes have taken place since the 1989 edition of that work. Among them: the Library of Congress is undergoing renovations that affect details on collections and locations, the National Archives is in the process of moving key records important for genealogical research, and the cartographic branch in Alexandria, Virginia, has been closed.
There are chapters for each type of collection. Of the above-listed topics, the National Archives receives the most detailed coverage; the Library of Congress, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the National Genealogical Society are next. All chapters include addresses and telephone and fax numbers. Public transportation and parking, rules of access, hours, copying facilities, and online addresses for gophers and URLs are covered. There is general information on the organization of various collections within a facility and floor plans of some of the reading rooms. Extensive information on census records and finding aids is included. The chapter "Ethnic and Religious Research" covers collections on Jewish and Holocaust, Arab American, Islamic, Armenian, Mennonite, and other genealogy. Frequent sidebars with bibliographies, lists, statistics, and facts complement the text. An index of facilities by place, an extensive bibliography, a section of selected NARA order forms for mail requests, and a subject/title index complete the volume.
The Center is a truly valuable resource; libraries with genealogy collections will find it is an important addition to their reference shelves. Researchers planning a trip to the DC area will also want to consult Bergheim's The Look-It-Up Guide to Washington Libraries & Archives [RBB Mr 15 96], which covers a few collections in greater detail.