Index to District of Columbia Estates, 1801-1929


Until now, researchers have had ready access to only a small portion of available historic personal estate records of the District of Columbia in the form of published will abstracts and indexes to wills. This index provides nearly 54,000 references to estates (for which many have surviving loose papers), and includes new references to over 21,000 estate administrations and hundreds of wills not previously found in published will indexes. The original source records can be found either at the National Archives on Pennsylvania Avenue, or at the D.C. Archives, in Washington, D.C.

The first source record used for this information is a series of 5"x 8" index cards that were transferred from the Register of Wills, Probate Division of the D.C. Superior Court to the D.C. Archives in December 1992.

Second, various data were extracted from many original or microfilmed wills as well as loose paper packets. This index helps researchers overcome numerous problems with the microfilmed and original wills and index cards, including: (a) items are greatly out of alphabetical or chronological sequence; (b) folder labels may not match contents (i.e., quite a few labels give the name of the spouse or executor/executrix rather than the testator); (c) folder labels may be spelled incorrectly; (d) folders may contain administration papers where there was no will; (e) not all pages or faces were microfilmed; or (f) original index cards are missing. Each entry here provides the name of the deceased, the docket number assigned to the activity, the earliest date a will was written (not necessarily listing multiple wills and codicils), the date a will was filed, the bound book in which the will was copied, the box at the D.C. Archives in which the original will can be found, and the date of the earliest petition for letters testamentory or for estate administrator or similar. Not all estates have surviving estate papers.

Many of the wills found were not probated in the D.C. Courts and came from other jurisdictions. In these cases, it is likely there is no packet of additional loose papers. Although there is much more estate-related data still to be gathered (i.e. bonds, inventories, sales, accounts, etc.), the intent of this index is to provide a preliminary inventory of wills and administrations and to launch and enable further research.

Wesley E. Pippenger

2008, 8½x11, cloth, alphabetical, 850 pp.

ISBN: 9780788445880