National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)|
Research entrance at the National Archives Building as seen from 7th Steet & Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.
E-mail: Several e-mail options are available at http://archives.gov/contact/inquire-form.html
- The National Archives and Records Administration
- 8601 Adelphi Road
- College Park, MD 20740-6001
National Archives in Washington, D.C. (Archives I) — Street Address:
- National Archives Building—Research Entrance
- 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Telephone: 1-866-272-6272 , or TDD 301-837-0482
Hours: 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.
- 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 branches of the National Archives
Facilities and Affiliated Archives by State
Internet sites and databases:
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.
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.
"The Archival Research Catalog (ARC) 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 ARC, but NARA is working towards complete coverage. Researchers can search ARC by keyword, dates, person name, topic, physical location of records, and digitized images. See "How to Search in ARC" for more details. "ARC Guide for Genealogists and Family Historians" contains guidance specific for genealogists.
ARC 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States in National Archives Archives.gov at http://archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/ (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, 3 vols. (Washington, D.C.: NARA, 1995). [973 A3gui].
- 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 book 973 J53e]. 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 book 973 A3sz]. 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.
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.
- 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.
- NARA National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, government and military personnel records starting 1917.
- Family History Library has many of the National Archives records of census, immigration, land, military, and naturalization records on microfilm. For a list microfilms at both NARA and the Family History Library, click here.
- 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.
- Ancestry.com ($) subscription site with wide-ranging images and indexes of National Archives census, military, naturalization, passenger arrivals, border crossings, and published passenger lists.
- Footnote.com ($) 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.
- HeritageQuestOnline.com ($) 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.
- 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 (DAR) Library, focus on 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.
- Maryland State Archives, census, court, church, vital, military, probate, land, tax, immigration, naturalizations.
- Library of Virginia, 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.