Finding Primary Sources
Beginning Research Activities for Students
Student activities for navigating the National Archives and Records Administration Web site resources.
Dear Beginning Researcher,
Congratulations on your decision to research archival sources!
After choosing a topic and thoroughly investigating secondary sources, you are ready to find primary resources to support your thesis. This is the time when research becomes most exciting! The National Archives of the United States is an excellent source for primary documents, but finding what you are looking for can be challenging because of the vastness of the holdings. The following activities will help you navigate through the NARA Web site and figure out how to access information about the records you need. We suggest that you print out a copy of the activity pages and use them as worksheets for taking notes while you follow the instructions and complete the activities.
Activity 1: Finding records in the National Archives of the United States by record group
Activity 2: Using the Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States
Activity 3: Using NARA's Archival Research Catalog (ARC)
Activity 4: Using the Guide to the Records of the United States Senate at the National Archives
Activity 5: Using the Guide to the Records of the United States House of Representatives at the National Archives