NARA's Affiliated Archives
Read more about "NARA's Oldest Partnerships" in the Summer, 2006 issue of Prologue magazine.
- What are Affiliated Archives?
- Why does NARA have Affiliated Archives?
- What are the Existing NARA Affiliated Archives?
- How are Affiliates established?
- How do Affiliated Archives Operate?
- What are the Criteria for Designating New Affiliated Archives?
- Where can I find more about Affiliated Archives?
Affiliated Archives are public or non-profit archives that hold--by written agreement with NARA--Federal records owned by NARA. Since 1953, NARA has established eight Affiliated Archives under the authority of 44 U.S.C., Section 2107, including five federal Affiliates and three state Affiliates. These Affiliated Archives act as NARA's agents, arranging, describing, preserving, and providing reference and access services for the Federal records. NARA retains legal custody for the records and some ongoing reporting and supervisory responsibilities. NARA and the Affiliate work together to provide the public access to the Federal records placed in the Affiliated Archive.
Affiliated Archives allow NARA to provide enhanced access to Federal records and the information they contain through partnerships with premiere repositories nationwide. These repositories may provide NARA with new opportunities, for instance, they may:
- hold related resources, such as manuscripts, museum holdings, facilities, or other resources that provide value and context to researchers wishing to use Federal records,
- have special staff subject expertise, equipment, or tools that aid the public in understanding and using the Federal records, or
- be located close to those researchers who most actively use the Federal records.
The goal of these partnerships is to ensure that NARA's responsibility is met to preserve, protect, and make accessible Federal records to the American people using the special resources and expertise of the Affiliated Archives. These records ensure that our government is accountable to the American people.
The nine existing NARA Affiliated Archives include:
- Library of Congress and the National Park Service has been an Affiliate for the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) since 1975. The Library has also held the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) records since 1984.
Cited in the Guide to Federal Records as "Library of Congress" as the holder of the HABS/HAER records in Record Group 515, see Records of the HABS/HAER Division at: http://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/groups/515.html.
Web site with searchable catalog, selected images, ordering information at: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/hhhtml/habshome.html.
Cited in the Guide to Federal Records as "HABS/HAER", see the National Park Service HABS/HAER web site at: http://www.cr.nps.gov/hdp/.
- New Mexico Commission of Public Records has been an Affiliated Archives for the General Land Office Records called the "Spanish Land Grant Archives" since 1972. Cited in the Guide to Federal Records as "Santa Fe" within Record Group 49, as part of Land Records of New Mexico in the Records of the Bureau of Land Management at: http://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/groups/049.html
Web site: http://www.nmcpr.state.nm.us/.
- Oklahoma Historical Society has been an Affiliated Archives for the records of the Five Civilized Tribes (Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole Indians), as well as the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indian Tribes of Oklahoma since 1978, although by Act of Congress OHS was established as the records custodian in 1934. Cited in the Guide to Federal Records as "Oklahoma" in the Records of the Five Civilized Tribes and of other Indian tribes in Oklahoma in Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs at:
See http://www.okhistory.org/res/ResDiv.html; plus additional information at:
- Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission had been an Affiliated Archives for the John F. Hartranft Papers, which document the trial and execution of the Lincoln assassination conspirators, since 1995. Cited in the
Guide to Federal Records as the John F. Hartranft Papers, 1853-1897 in Record Group 393, Army Continental Commands, U.S., 1821-1920 (1817-1940) at: http://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/groups/393.html
Web site: http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/ The Archival Research Catalog series-level description for these records may be found at:
- U.S. Government Printing Office has been an Affiliated Archives for Federal electronic products and publications since 2004. Cited in the
Guide to Federal Records as part of Record Group 287, Publications of the U.S. Government at:
http://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/groups/287.html. The GPO electronic publications are available and searchable on the GPO Access Web site at:
- United States Military Academy Archives at West Point was established in 1946, formally recognized in 1953, and became an Affiliated Archives for the records of West Point since 1988. Cited in the Guide to Federal Records as part of Record Group 404, the Records of the US Military Academy (USMA) at: http://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/groups/404.html; Web site: http://www.library.usma.edu/archives/default.asp The Archival Research Catalog series-level description for these records may be found at:
- United States Naval Academy William W. Jeffries Memorial Archives was established in 1970; formally recognized since 1978; and has been an Affiliated Archives for the USNA records since 1985. Cited in the Guide to Federal Records as part of Record Group 405, Records of the US Naval Academy at: http://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/groups/405.html; Web site: http://www.usna.edu/Library/SpecialCollections/Division.htm
- The University of North Texas Libraries
are home to the CyberCemetery of deceased federal agency web sites, the Congressional Research Service Reports electronic archive, and more. This is the newest addition to NARA's
Affiliated Archives, joining the NARA/GPO Partnership in 2006.
Web site: http://www.library.unt.edu
- Yellowstone National Park, National Park Service has been an Affiliated Archives for the Yellowstone National Park records since 1978. Cited in the Guide to Federal Records as "Yellowstone" at: http://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/groups/079.html; Web site: http://www.nps.gov/yell/historyculture/archives.htm
The Online Catalog series-level description for these records may be found at: http://www.archives.gov/research/search/ See ARC identifiers: 595269 and 595289.
A candidate for NARA affiliation may be invited by the Archivist to consider affiliation or may contact NARA to seek affiliation. An initial informal conversation between NARA and the organization wishing to be an Affiliated Archives is encouraged to ensure that the criteria for affiliation are understood. A formal three-step process is then followed to develop a recommendation that must be approved by the Archivist before affiliation is finalized:
A. Application and Preliminary Evaluation
The first step is submission of an application packet that includes:
- A letter from the head of the organization requesting consideration as an Affiliated Archives. The letter must describe the records involved, and discuss how the organization meets the criteria described in the
Criteria for Designating New Affiliated Archives section below.
- Any supporting documentation, such as finding aids, Website information, copying processes, budgets, environmental data on storage and access areas, and personnel qualifications that supports the application.
Applications are submitted to the Senior Archivist for Regional and Affiliated Archives in the Office of Regional Records Services.
An informal evaluation follows in order to determine whether the applicant appears to meet all of the basic eligibility criteria. The Archivist must give a preliminary concurrence for the application to continue.
B. Formal Review
If the Archivist give preliminary concurrence, the NARA Affiliated Archives Review Team (AART) conducts a formal review of the proposal.
This review includes:
- a repository visit and evaluation by NARA staff
- submission of any requested additional documentation
- candidate staff interview(s) with AART
The AART prepares a report and recommendation to the heads of the Office of Records Services - Washington, DC and the Office of Regional Records Services. The Office heads submit a recommendation to the Archivist, who decides whether or not to approve a request. Accepted affiliates then sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with NARA.
The operating framework for a NARA Affiliated Archives is described in the Affiliate's Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and typically includes the following responsibilities for:
- ownership, management evaluation, and reporting on the records to Congress,
- physical custody and management of the records including accessioning, preservation, protection, arrangement, description, and performance reporting for metrics purposes, and
- access to the records including reference, public outreach, Freedom of Information Act requests, and usage monitoring and reporting.
Six principle criteria are used by the Archivist of the United States to determine whether it is in the public interest to establish an Affiliated Archives. Candidate custodians must have:
- demonstrated ability to provide enhanced public access to the records and the information in the records beyond what NARA is able to provide. Characteristics that enable enhanced access include, but are not limited to:
- availability of special expertise needed to interpret the records and the recordkeeping system;
- availability of special equipment or specially designed facilities needed to provide ready access to records;
- possession of records, manuscripts, or other research resources that provide essential context for the records; and
- close association or proximity to the segment of the public most likely to desire ready access to the records.
- demonstrated institutional commitment to the long-term preservation of the records. Custodians must store and maintain records under preservation conditions that are at least equal to those that would be provided by NARA.
- demonstrated capability to protect the information in the records in accordance with 5 USC 552 as amended. Records exempt from disclosure under 5 USC 552 will not be deposited outside the Federal government.
- demonstrated ability and stated agreement to follow NARA reference, arrangement, description, preservation, and security guidance, as well as regular reporting to NARA on these matters so as to meet Government Performance Results Act (GPRA) standards required by Congress.
- documented willingness to permit NARA staff and NARA's Office of the Inspector General staff to examine the records and review how they are being managed, preserved, and made available for research.
- documented willingness to notify NARA as early as possible of any substantial risk that the institution may not be able to continue to preserve or provide access to the records.
- documented willingness to notify NARA immediately upon learning of damage to federal records held under this agreement from natural disaster, facility failure, theft, or human-caused abuse.
To read more about Affiliated Archives, see:
- How to locate an Affiliated Archives by location
- The article "What are Affiliated Archives" in the Volume 22, No. 2, 1999 issue of CRM on the Web
- The article "What are Affiliated Archives?" in The Record, May 1998
- The article "The Hartranft Affiliated Archives" in The Record, May 1998
- The article "The United States Naval Academy Archives" in The Record, March 1998 issue
- The article "The Yellowstone Archives and its Affiliation with NARA" in the Volume 21, No. 6, issue of CRM from 1998 on the Web