You may be wondering, where can I find information on the Washington commemoration in my community? Listed below are some possible locations to find more information
Historical newspapers are a great source. Most monuments will have their date of erection listed somewhere on a plaque or in the stone. The dedication of these monuments were usually fairly newsworthy events— meaning that most likely reporters wrote about them. Looking at historical newspapers from the time of the monument’s dedication may well produce a wealth of information.
Many newspapers now have online archives of past issues. Look for an archive section on the paper’s webpage to see if they have one.
Local public libraries and any university libraries often have microfilm or digital collections of older newspapers. Research Librarians on staff can help you locate these resources.
If you are lucky enough to live in a community that has a local historical association, the staff and facility can be of enormous help.
When looking for historical newspapers keep an eye out for a few databases. Proquest has an extensive collection and many university libraries will grant you access to some or all of their offerings. Genealogical databases like Genealogy Bank also have collected newspapers and made them searchable. Some of these databases have paywalls though, but at the same time, many libraries have purchased access for you. You will need to talk to a librarian to know for sure.
Like newspapers, the wide range of magazines, digests, and other periodicals may contain stories about your monument. Accessing these can be a bit harder though than finding newspapers. Older libraries may have actual printed runs of Nile’s Register, Harper’s Weekly or other older periodicals sitting on their shelves. Paging through old prints can be a wonderful experience. More commonly though, access to these and dozens of other periodicals are available through a range of searchable databases. Once again, this is a question for your librarian.
The Hathi Trust has posted a vast collection of published material in an easy to use searchable database. Searches there can be very productive.
Some commemorations were erected by local societies and fraternal organizations. Many of those groups have maintained their records and will grant a researcher access to them. If your memorial is associated with a local civic or fraternal group of some kind, it might pay off to see what records that group might have.
Many commemorations had to undergo some sort of local review process before they were allowed. It may well be worth the effort to visit the county or municipal records office to see if a permitting or Architectural Review Board created a file about your commemoration.
Sometimes the information you are looking for can be found with a simple google search. Some of the resources mentioned above could be found by searching the monument name, if there is one, or it’s location. If the monument has a Wikipedia page, sources can be found at the bottom in the footnote section that could lead to helpful information.
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress has several online databases and enormous collections of historical photography that might help you understand more about your memorial. There may be photographs from the monument’s dedication or even text or souvenirs from the dedication event itself.
National Register of Historic Places
Some of the more prominent memorials have made it onto national registers such as the NRHP. It is worth looking over the list to see if yours is there. If it is, the accompanying reporting documentation will be full of information.