The National Archives at Philadelphia

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the National Archives at Philadelphia

  1. Do I need an appointment to view microfilm such as the Federal censuses and ship's passenger lists?
  2. Do I need an appointment to view archival records?
  3. Do I need a NARA researcher ID card to view microfilm?
  4. Do I need a NARA reseacher ID card to view archival records?
  5. May I apply for the NARA researcher ID card in advance?
  6. What credentials do I need to apply for a NARA researcher ID card?
  7. Do NARA's regional archives facilities interloan their archival records?
  8. What is the difference between the archives facility and the Federal Records Center (RCP)?
  9. Can I research my family history at Townsend Rd?

  1. Do I need an appointment to view microfilm such as the Federal censuses and ship's passenger lists?
    No. The archives facility offers self-service microfilm readers and microfilm printers without an appointment. The archives facility staff may impose time limits if a waiting list develops.

  2. Do I need an appointment to view archival records?
    Yes. Researchers wishing to use original records must make an appointment. Most of our records are stored in an off site storage facilty and are not available for immediate viewing. Please contact an archivist to discuss your research plans.

  3. Do I need a NARA researcher ID card to view microfilm?
    No.

  4. Do I need a NARA researcher identification card to view archival records?
    Yes. To use archival records, visitors must present a NARA researcher identification card. Applicants must show official identification with a photograph, such as a driver's license, passport, school, or business ID. Applicants must complete a form providing their name, address, telephone number, and a brief description of their research. NARA researcher ID cards are valid for 1 year. They may be renewed.

  5. May I apply for the NARA researcher ID card in advance?
    No. You must apply for the NARA researcher ID card in person.

  6. What credentials do I need to apply for a NARA researcher ID card?
    Applicants must show official identification with a photograph, such as a driver's license, passport, school, or business ID. Applicants must complete a form providing their name, address, telephone number, and a brief description of their research. NARA researcher ID cards are valid for 1 year. They may be renewed.

  7. Do NARA's regional archives facilities interloan their archival records?
    No. NARA's regional archives facilities do not interloan their archival records. Since the records are unique, and in some cases fragile, original records held by one region cannot be transported to another region for use by researchers. Researchers may visit the archives facility in person. Reseachers may also contact the archives facility by mail, telephone, fax, or e-mail

  8. What is the difference between the Mid Atlantic Region archives facility and the Federal Records Center (RCP)?
    The Mid Atlantic Region archives facility at 900 Market St in downtown (Center City) Philadelphia is the depository for the original archival records generated by the Federal Government in the states of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. The records date from the 1789s to 1980s. The archives facility is open to the public. Admission is free. The archives facility staff offer a complement of public programs such as family history workshops, programs for educators, and exhibits to help the public make the best use of the facility's archival records, NARA microfilm, and public services.

    The Mid Atlantic Region, Federal Records Center (RCP) at 14700 Townsend Rd in Northeast Philadelphia stores semiactive records for the Federal Government. The records stored by the RCP are still in agency custody. The RCP cannot provide the public with information about the existence or location of a file. The public must contact the originating agency.

  9. Can I research my family history at Townsend Rd?
    Not at the moment. We expect that the public computers and microfilm will be available this fall (2014), once the renovations are completed.

The National Archives at Philadelphia >

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272

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