National Archives and Records Administration

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National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
File:National Archives and Records Administration.jpg
Research entrance at the National Archives Building as seen from 7th Steet & Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.

Contact Information[edit | edit source]

E-mail: Several e-mail options are available at National Archives and Records Administration

Mailing Address:[1]

The National Archives at College Park, Maryland (Archives II)

8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001

National Archives in Washington, D.C. (Archives I)[2]

National Archives Building—Research Entrance
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Telephone:[1]  1-866-272-6272 , or TDD 301-837-0482
Fax:  301-837-0483

Hours:[3]  Monday, Tuesday, Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 9:00 am to 9:00 p.m. For record pull-times, holidays, and other details, click here.

Public transportation:[4]

  • Subway. In Washington, DC, take Metrorail's Yellow or Green lines to the Archives/Navy Memorial station. The Archives/Navy Memorial stop is across Pennsylvania Avenue from the Archives building.
  • Bus. In Washington, DC, Metrobuses 30, 32, 34, 36, 53, A42, A46, A48, P1, P2, P4, P17, P19, and W13 stop at the National Archives on Pennsylvania Avenue.
  • Parking. No parking at the building is available for researchers. Several commercial parking lots are located nearby and metered curb parking may be available on nearby streets.

Regional Archives-Facilities and Affiliated Archives by State[edit | edit source]

Federal Records Centers[edit | edit source]

Internet sites and databases:[edit | edit source]

National Archives Programs[edit | edit source]

Collection Description[edit | edit source]

The National Archives has a vast collection of documents created by the United States federal government. The records most often used by genealogists are census, military, land, immigration, and naturalization records.[7]

The National Archives Building in Washington, DC (Archives I), houses textual and microfilm records relating to genealogy, American Indians, pre-World War II military and naval-maritime matters, the New Deal, the District of Columbia, the Federal courts, and Congress.[8]

National Archives Catalog[edit | edit source]

"The National Archives Catalog is the online catalog of NARA's nationwide holdings in the Washington, DC area, Regional Archives and Presidential Libraries." Not all of NARA's records are described in the catalog, but NARA is working towards complete coverage. Researchers can search the catalog by keyword, dates, person name, topic, physical location of records, and digitized images. See "How to Search in the catalog" for more details. "Catalog Guide for Genealogists and Family Historians" contains guidance specific for genealogists.[9]

  • Claire Prechtel Kluskens. The National Archives Catalog. NGS Magazine 43 # 3 (October-December, 2017): 40- 43.

Catalog entries contain many different numbers. Some of the more important are:

  • Record Group (RG) number – A record group is a grouping created by NARA that comprises the records of a government organization.
  • Inventory Entry Number – An inventory or preliminary inventory is a finding aid, and generally includes a brief administrative history of the organization(s) as well as series descriptions of their records. Inventory Entry Numbers were formerly called Inventory Identifiers.
  • Local Identifier – Local identifiers are created by local NARA offices to identify materials. Local identifiers are office specific; different offices may use the same identifier for different records.
  • HMS/MLR Entry Number – A number that uniquely identifies an entry in the Holdings Management System/Master Location Register (MLR) database, such as “A1 1077B.”
  • Declassification Project Number – A number assigned to records that have been reviewed for declassification.[10]

Selected Digitized Collections[edit | edit source]

Military Records

Revolutionary War

War of 1812

War with Mexico, 1846 - 1848.

Civil War

War with Spain, 1898

World War I, 1917-1918

World War II 1941-1945

African American

Native American


Immigration and Naturalization


Bureau of Prisons

US District Court

US General Land Office

US Postal Service

Tips[edit | edit source]

  • Researchers first visiting Archives I, the National Archives and Records Administration building in Washington, DC, proceed to the Research Center on the first floor. Depending upon the types of records requested, researchers may need to first obtain a researcher identification card. You can get your research card in the Research Center. During the registration process, new researchers will view a short PowerPoint orientation emphasizing the safe handling of records and explaining the most basic research procedures, responsibilities, and rules. New researchers should plan for a total of 15-20 minutes to complete the registration process.[11]
  • Most of the National Archives records are arranged by record group. Record groups are based on the agency creating the record. For help identifying record groups to use for research see the following guides.

Guides[edit | edit source]

  • Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States in National Archives at (accessed 5 April 2009). Provides a general overview of NARA's holdings at the record group level, and is intended to assist researchers in identifying which record groups may have material relevant to their research topics. This Internet edition is an expanded version of Robert B. Matchette, and Jan Shelton Danis, Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States, 3rd ed., 3 vols. (Washington, D.C.: NARA, 1998). (FHL Collection 973 A3gui). WorldCat entry.
  • Anne Bruner Eales, and Robert M. Kvasnicka, eds. Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives of the United States. 3rd ed. (Washington, DC: NARA, 2000) (FHL Collection 973 J53e). WorldCat entry. Explains records collections used most by genealogical researchers: Census, Passenger Arrivals and Border Crossings, Naturalizations, Military, Land, Native Americans, African Americans, and more.
  • Loretto Dennis Szucs, and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, The Archives: a Guide to the National Archives Field Branches (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1988) (FHL Collection 973 A3sz). WorldCat entry. Several page descriptions for each Regional Branch, but mostly a list of record groups by number. Relatively little of the book is about the main branch.
  • Christina K. Schaefer, The Center: A Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Capitol Area (Baltimore: Genealogical Publ., 1996) (FHL Collection 975.3 A3sc). WorldCat entry. Explains using research rooms, census, military, immigration, naturalization, passport, American Indian, African American, Confederate, tax, W.P.A., and federal land records.
  • US National Archives YouTube Channel - hundreds of videos about the archives and their collections & services

Alternate Repositories[edit | edit source]

If you cannot visit or find a record at the National Archives Building (Archives I), a similar record may be available at one of the following.

Overlapping Collections

  • National Archives at College Park, Maryland (Archives II) houses documents created after 1900 at the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, and Treasury, and modern military records.
  • National Archives—Regional Branches. Each Regional Branch has copies of key records in Washington, as well as regional records, e.g. Atlanta for the Southern region, and Fort Worth has a strong American Indian collection.
  • National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), St. Louis, government and military personnel records starting 1917.
  • Allen County Public Library (Indiana) has a premier genealogical periodical collection, genealogies, local histories, databases, military, censuses, directories, passenger lists, American Indians, African Americans, Canadians.
  • Mid-Continent Public Library Midwest Genealogy Center, Independence, MO, national censuses/indexes, 80,000 family histories, 100,000 local histories, 565,000 microfilms, 7,000 maps, and extensive newspaper clippings.
  • ($) subscription site with wide-ranging images and indexes of National Archives census, military, naturalization, passenger arrivals, border crossings, and published passenger lists.
  • ($) subscription site with indexes and images to hundreds of National Archives record types including Revolutionary War and Civil War service records and pensions, draft registrations, census, etc.
  • ($) by subscription & at many libraries--Revolutionary War pension & bounty land files.
  • Castle Garden 1830-1892 and Ellis Island 1892-1924 indexes & images to New York City passenger arrivals.

Family History Library

  • Family History Library, Salt Lake City, has many National Archives census, immigration, land, military, and naturalization records on microfilm.
  • For a list of microfilms at both NARA and the Family History Library, click here.

NARA Series to FHL film Conversion

Neighboring Collections

  • Library of Congress, Washington, DC, Local History and Genealogy Reading Room is part of the world's largest library including 50,000 genealogies, 100,000 local histories, and collections of manuscripts, microfilms, maps, newspapers, photographs, and published material, strong in North American, British Isles, and German sources.
  • Daughters of the American Revolution Library, Washington DC, Revolutionary War and colonial period, including family and local histories, cemetery transcriptions, Bible records, 15,000 genealogical membership applications.
  • DC Vital Records Division for birth and death records. DC Superior Court for marriage and divorce records.
  • Washington DC Family History Center has premium online services for free, and can offer research suggestions.
  • Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, census, court, church, vital, military, probate, land, tax, immigration, naturalizations.
  • Library of Virginia, Richmond, digital sources, databases, vital, military, newspapers, periodicals, tax, history, land records.
  • State archives for each state have archival records for people dealing with the state governments. See the Library and Archives Wiki pages for each state of the United States for further details.
  • Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, vital, census, immigration, naturalization, military, land, and employment.
  • Archivo General de la Nación (AGN), Mexico City, church, civil, census, court, history, military, migration, land.

Sources[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Contact the National Archives and Records Administration" in Natonal Archives at (accessed 5 April 2009).
  2. "Washington, D.C. Area" in National Archives at (accessed 5 April 2009).
  3. "Hours" in "Washington, DC Area" in National Archives at (accessed 5 April 2009).
  4. "Transportation" in "Washington, DC Area" in National Archives at (accessed 5 April 2009).
  5. "About ARC" in National Archives at (accessed 5 April 2009).
  6. "What will I find in AAD?" in "Getting Started Guide" in "Access to Archival Databases (AAD)" in National Archives at (accessed 5 April 2009).
  7. William Dollarhide, and Ronald A. Bremer, America's Best Genealogy Resource Centers (Bountiful, UT: Heritage Quest, 1988), 2. WorldCat 39493985; FHL Book 973 J54d.
  8. "Information for Researchers at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC" in National Archives at (accessed 5 April 2009).
  9. "About the catalog," The National Archives ( : accessed 19 May 2010).
  10. "What Do All Those Numbers...Mean?" The National Archives ( : accessed 19 May 2010).
  11. "Orientation and Research Room Procedures" in "Information for Researchers at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC" in National Archives at (access 5 April 2009).