Research

Plan Your Research Visit

First decide if you need to visit us in person

Contact us before you visit - write or call ahead

  • For us to be able to answer your questions properly, you should be able to tell us:
    • the Federal and/or presidential connection to your topic;
    • what agencies, offices, or individuals were involved and what time period you are interested in;
    • and what kinds of records (textual, maps, photographs, electronic, etc.) you are looking for.

When You Arrive

  • Make your initial visit to any National Archives location, even those with extended hours
    • during weekday business hours
    • as early in the day as possible
  • Archivists whose help is needed to begin research usually are not available during evenings or weekends. A late afternoon visit may not allow enough time for records to be identified and retrieved from the stack areas for use on that day.

  • When you come to one of our locations to look at records, you will usually be issued a researcher identification card.

  • During your research visit, keep good notes as to records consulted so that you can differentiate between multiple groups of records searched, and your steps can be retraced if necessary.

  • Anyone can use the National Archives. You do not need to be an American citizen or to present credentials or a letter of recommendation. Read about Regulations for using the National Archives.

  • You need to be 14 years old to do research at the National Archives, unless you receive permission from the Research Center Branch Chief and are accompanied by a parent or guardian.

  • Read about Security Procedures at our Washington, DC and College Park, MD locations.

  • New researchers at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC and the National Archives at College Park will view a PowerPoint orientation presentation before receiving a researcher card.

  • Read more about Services for Onsite Users.

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

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