General Information Leaflet 71
The National Archives in the Nation's Capital –
Information for Researchers
National Archives Building
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW,
Washington, DC, 20408
Built in the early 1930s shortly after the establishment of the National Archives as a Federal agency, the original National Archives Building on Pennsylvania Avenue houses the Charters of Freedom–the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights–and exhibits highlighting historical themes and events documented in our records. It is also a major research facility for historical records of all three branches of the Federal Government, including judicial records of the U.S. Supreme Court and the District of Columbia court. .This impressive building is undergoing renovation through 2004. Research rooms for textual and microform records, a library of secondary sources relating to the records housed here, and a Customer Service Center continue to provide researcher assistance during the renovation.
Executive branch records housed in the National Archives Building include those of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and of civilian agencies responsible for maritime affairs. Military records in this building include records of the Army before World War I and the Navy and Marine Corps before World War II. In addition, there are many records relating to the Federal Government's interaction with individuals that are often consulted for genealogical research. These include important family history sources such as decennial census records, land entry files, passport applications, passenger arrival lists, and records documenting late 18th- and 19th-century military service, including pension applications.
Our Center for Legislative Archives is the designated repository, reference center, and outreach organization for the historically valuable records of the U.S. Congress. The Center holds records dating from the First Federal Congress. The official records from the committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate–the standing, select, special, and joint committees–represent the core holdings of the Center. In addition, the Center holds records of legislative agencies, including out-of-print publications of the Government Printing Office. More information is available on our web site at www.archives.gov/records_of_congress/index.html.
The Microfilm Research Room and Genealogical Research
We preserve Federal records of particular value to genealogical researchers. You will find useful information about our genealogical holdings on the Genealogy Page of our web site, www.archives.gov/genealogy/ We do not have official files of birth, marriage, divorce, or death records, or wills–all of which are held at the state, county, and local levels, because such matters are not under Federal jurisdiction. The microfilm research room contains self-service census records, passenger arrival lists, and indexes to late 18th- and 19th-century military service and pension records. Our research room staff will provide initial guidance, help locate pertinent microfilm, and provide assistance with ordering related non-microfilmed records.
The following leaflets describe specific types of records of genealogical value:
- RIP 110, Using Civilian Records for Genealogical Research in the National Archives, Washington, DC, Area;
- GIL 7, Military Service Records in the National Archives; and
- GIL 67, Research in the Land Entry Files of the General Land Office
Contact the Customer Service Center in the National Archives Building
(See "Contacting Us" )
Many of the microfilmed genealogical records also are available at the majority of NARA's regional records services facilities nationwide. All of NARA's microfilm resources are described in our online Microfilm Catalog.