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Past Perfect Online

Montgomery History uses the Past Perfect Online database to provide searchable access to our collections. The collections are organized into four catalogs (described below) that allow you to search, and in some cases view, our extensive library holdings, special collections, photographs and artifacts collections. Follow the instructions and links below to get started!

Archives: The Sween Library has a rich variety of special collections, consisting of primary source archival documents as well as rare and unique published materials relating to Montgomery County and Maryland. These documents include wills, deeds, correspondence, diaries, family Bibles, photographs, scrapbooks, newspapers, yearbooks, maps and much more, representing the activity of Montgomery County families, schools, churches, clubs & organizations, communities, businesses, and individuals. Over 1100 unique collections and items described.

Photos: Our extensive photograph collection depicts places and people in Montgomery County over the last 130 years, consisting of prints, snapshots and slides. Over 12,000 images are available to view. To request an image for personal use, contact the Librarian/Archivist or click the “Request This Image” button to fill out an order. (Requesting more than 5 photos? Please email instead of requesting individually.)

Library: Discover the books and other secondary sources available in the Jane C. Sween Library’s non-circulating collection, with a focus on local and regional history, genealogy, and biographies. Our Library Catalog is being updated weekly, but is not yet complete. Don’t see what you’re looking for? Search the Montgomery Public Library‘s online catalog for more titles held in our collection.

Objects: Montgomery History’s artifact collections consist of over 10,000 objects, encompassing the history of our county from the pre-contact era to the present day. Our collections include textiles, household goods, toys and recreational items, weapons, agricultural and industrial tools, furniture and decorative arts, and many other items, all of which help to tell the story of everyday life in Montgomery County over the last 200 years. We also have a large collection of 19th and early 20th century medical tools and books related to the Stonestreet Museum of 19th Century Medicine.

Search Tips

To search across all four collections types (library, special collections, photos, or objects) use keyword search or advanced search in the top menu bar. 

If you’re looking for a certain type of material, use the catalog-specific links above to narrow your results.

Note: the search function in Past Perfect is not as sophisticated as Google, so try to keep to one- or two-words in the search box. When using a phrase, place it in quotation marks to avoid unrelated results. For example: typing in the term silver spring will return results that include either term, not both together (so results for Sandy Spring or spring house will be included because of the term “spring”). Instead, type “silver spring”  in quotations, and the search will return only results that include both terms, in that order.