Past Perfect Online

Montgomery History uses the Past Perfect Online database to provide access to our collections, housed at the Jane C. Sween Library and Special Collections in Rockville, MD. The collections are organized into three catalogs (described below) that allow you to search, and in some cases view, our extensive library holdings, special collections, and photographs. Follow the instruction and links below to get started!


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


Or use the catalog-specific searches 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.


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.