CCHS has collected historical material relevant to Chevy Chase for more than 30 years.
Documenting one of the earliest streetcar suburbs in the United States, our collections represent a unique resource for scholars, students, and residents of Chevy Chase. It is also one of the few planned residential communities in the nation in which the original developer, the Chevy Chase Land Company, has maintained a presence for more than 120 years. The Land Company generously donated maps, photographs, and documents from the early period when its founder, Francis G. Newlands, began assembling land for the new suburb and laying out its picturesque streets.
Because Chevy Chase was developed as a residential area in the early 1890s, most of our materials date from that period to the present. We do, however, have some information relating to the earlier agricultural settlement. Large tracts of farm land were subdivided and a street plan was organized around a streetcar line which began operating on the newly extended Connecticut Avenue in 1892.
Over time, five municipalities were organized by residents:
- Chevy Chase Village (Section 2)
- Section 3 of the Village of Chevy Chase
- The Village of Chevy Chase Section 5
- The Town of Chevy Chase (Section 4)
- Village of Martin’s Additions to Chevy Chase.
The materials in the CCHS collections – maps, photographs, documents -- tell the history of Chevy Chase from its founding to the present. Topics include:
- Assembly of land for the early subdivisions
- The development of the streetcar railway
- The creation of local institutions: schools, clubs, and churches
- The process of developing the five municipalities
- Personal memoirs and letters written by or about Chevy Chase residents
- Oral histories with Chevy Chase residents
CCHS currently has over 15,000 entries in our archival catalog. All of the accessioned materials are searchable on PastPerfect, a digital cataloging system which is available on our website as well as at the CCHS Archive and Research Center. To search the collections on our website, simply click on the tab “Search Collection” in the main horizontal menu at the top of our website.
Our archive contains more than 4,000 documents, including government records and newsletters for the five municipalities listed above, as well as records for clubs and religious institutions. Also included are personal letters, memoirs, old ledgers, and city directories. We are indebted to the Chevy Chase Land Company for copies of many of their maps, photographs, business papers, and other historical documents that document the early suburban development of the area.
Our archival materials are organized in eight collections:
- The CCHS Oral History Project Collection – We have more than 100 transcribed oral history interviews with Chevy Chase residents. CLICK HERE to learn more.
- The CCHS Map Collection – We have more than 400 maps in our collection, including atlases, street, plats and subdivisions.
CLICK HERE to learn more.
- The CCHS Architectural and Engineering Plan Collection – Among our most treasured holdings are architectural plans by noted architects such as Leon Dessez.
- The Julie Rude Thomas Collection of Chevy Chase History – This collection includes a variety of documents donated by long-time Chevy Chase resident and former CCHS board member Julie Thomas. Of special interest are a collection of early postcards, yearbooks, documents, and ephemera related to Chevy Chase Junior College.
- The CCHS House History Collection-- Our house history files cover more than 300 homes and are arranged by street, ranging from Aspen Street to Woodside Place. Some have just a few documents, but more than 50 files include copies of deeds and detailed information about former owners and occupants.
- The Photography Collection -We have over 10,000 photographs of people, places, and events in Chevy Chase from the 1890s to the present. These include images of the local landscape at different moments in history, showing agricultural fields, old streets, and historic houses. Family photographs provide historical information about everyday life, as well as the celebration of special events such as graduations, weddings, and awards ceremonies. Photographs from local churches, clubs, and schools document community activity. CCHS has received generous donations of photographs from many current and former residents, but we are particularly grateful for the donations of the late Robert A. Truax, noted local historian.
- The Object Collection - Our object collection include a variety of artifacts: milk bottles from Chestnut Farms, police badges, spikes from the streetcar tracks, as well as several paintings by Chevy Chase residents.
- The Library Collection - To provide context for understanding all the documents, photographs and objects in our archive, we maintain a research library of books, pamphlets, magazines, DVDs and videos about Chevy Chase and Chevy Chase residents. These items are available for use at the Archive and Research Center.
CCHS Vertical Files -
In addition to the materials in our formal catalog and digital database, we maintain a vertical file organized by subject. These files include newspaper clippings as well as photocopies and research notes. Sources for these materials include local newspapers, the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the National Geographic Society, the Montgomery County Historical Society, the Chevy Chase Club, the Historical Society of Washington, DC, and private holdings.
If you would like to make a material donation to the Chevy Chase Historical Society, please contact us at 301-656-6141 or firstname.lastname@example.org.