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American Security and Trust Company Photograph Collection

Identifier: P009

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of 400 total images, including 369 3x3 black and white photographs and 350 negatives, depicting residential and commercial properties located throughout the Washington, DC metropolitan area between the years of 1956 and 1958 (though several images are undated). Many of the photographs are mounted on note cards that list the property’s address, the owner, and the date. The majority of the images show the exterior of a property, though there are some interiors and detail shots, as well. Some addresses only have one associated photograph, while others have more than one. A few of the photographs do not have matching negatives, and vice versa. The collection is divided into six (6) series: I. NE; II. NW; III. SE; IV. SW; V. MD (Bethesda, Chevy Chase, and Silver Spring); and VI. VA (Arlington).


  • Creation: 1956 - 1957


There are no known restrictions

Biographical / Historical

American Security & Trust Company originally incorporated in Virginia in 1889. It was then reincorporated in Washington, DC in 1890, making it the second trust company in the district. In 1905, its offices moved from 1405 G Street NW to 1501 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, located next to the Riggs National Bank Building. The company offered many services, including banking, trust, safe deposit, loans, and storage. In 1906, they established a separate storage business called Security Storage Company.

The company grew and expanded over the years. In 1919, it merged with Home Savings Bank; in 1946, it purchased Columbia National Bank; in 1958, it merged with National Metropolitan Bank; and in 1959, it purchased the City Bank of Washington. By this point, American Security & Trust Company was the second largest bank and trust in Washington, DC. It was also a member of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and Allied Bank International.

In the 1970s, American Security & Trust Company changed its name to American Security Bank, which later merged into Maryland National Bank.

The American Security & Trust Building at the corner of 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW (1501 Pennsylvania Avenue NW) has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973.


1.5 Linear feet

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Though it is assumed that the American Security & Trust Company, American Security Bank, or an affiliated organization or person donated these photographs, the origin of this collection is not documented. The collection was accessioned in 2000.

Processing Procedure

The American Security & Trust Company Photograph Collection was initially processed in 2005. At this time, the images were organized into series by DC quadrant and state and listed numerically and alphabetically thereunder. The processor used the same series and organization during reprocessing.

Photographs not mounted on a notecard were originally stored in envelopes labeled with the property address. Negatives were stored in smaller labeled envelopes inside the larger envelopes. During reprocessing, the processor removed photographs and negatives from their original envelopes and placed them in protective archival sleeves. Photographs mounted on notecards were placed in clear plastic sleeves; additional unmounted photographs were covered in smaller clear plastic sleeves; and the negatives were housed in acid-free paper envelopes. A small number of photographs were originally mounted on the back of their associated notecards. In this instance, the processor made a note, removed the photograph from the mount, and covered it in a small plastic sleeve. Photographs held together with tape were carefully separated from each other and covered separately.

The processor assigned each image (photographs/negatives) a number as a unique identifier. Notecards, photographs, and folders were labeled with the collection number and image ID number. Though a note has been made for each, unknown and misidentified addresses were kept in order based on their original label. The photographs and negatives were housed separately, each in an archival box.

The following items were removed from the collection and discarded: original envelopes and one small handwritten note on a slip of paper found in the envelope for 1008 V Street NW that read, “Mr. Grimes has folder 10/3/56.”

American Security and Trust Company Photograph Collection
A Guide to the American Security and Trust Company Photograph Collection
Prepared by Jerry McCoy (2005) and Julie Burns (2018)
2005; 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The People's Archive, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Repository

901 G Street NW
4th Floor East
Washington DC 20001