General Information Leaflet 71
The National Archives in the Nation's Capital –
Information for Researchers
National Archives at College Park
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
The National Archives at College Park, MD, was specially designed for housing archival records and supporting archival research. In addition to textual records, the National Archives at College Park contains special media records, including motion pictures, still photographs and posters, sound recordings, maps, architectural drawings, aerial photographs, and electronic records. The research complex is located on five floors, consisting of separate research rooms for textual, microform, still picture, motion picture and sound, cartographic and architectural, and electronic media. A library of secondary sources relating to records housed at College Park and a Customer Service Center also are available to assist you.
Records of civilian agencies date from 1789 and include records of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, and Treasury. Also among the records are those for World War I emergency agencies, New Deal and Depression-era agencies, and the Office of Management and Budget and other components of the Executive Office of the President.
Notable bodies of investigative records include those relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and those accumulated by the Watergate Special Prosecution Force and Independent Counsels.
Military holdings at College Park include records of the Army and Army Air Forces dating from World War I and Navy, Marine Corps, intelligence, defense-related, and seized enemy records dating from World War II. These records document policy making at the most senior level as carried out by the civilian service secretaries, the uniformed chiefs of services, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Although generally we do not have records documenting the service and contributions of individual military personnel in the 20th century, we do hold the organizational records of a variety of military units. Documented units include World War II Army Air Forces bomb groups, World War II Marine Corps units, Navy ships, and Army units that served in World Wars I and II, Korea, and Vietnam.
The only Presidential materials at College Park are the materials created
during the Presidency of Richard M. Nixon, 1969-1974. The Nixon Presidential
materials consist of approximately 44 million pages, 30,000 foreign and domestic
gifts, 500,000 photographs, 700 hours of film, 4,000 hours of "off the air"
video recordings, 4,469 audio recordings, and approximately 3,700 hours (950
tapes) of Nixon White House tapes. The Nixon Staff has released to the public
approximately 2,517 cubic feet of textual materials, 2,019 hours of Nixon White
House tapes, and the majority of the audio visual collection. Researchers should
be aware that the Nixon materials can not be released to the public immediately
following processing. The legal restrictions of the Presidential Recordings and
Materials Preservation Act of 1974 (PRMPA), which seized the Nixon Presidential
Materials, and the accompanying public access regulations require us to publish
a notice in the Federal Register that allows for a 30-day comment period during
which time former Nixon White House staff members and the Nixon estate can contest
materials that we propose to release.For more information about the Nixon materials, please contact the Nixon Staff or visit our web site.
In the microfilm research room at College Park you can view microfilmed records on a self-service basis. One of the largest microfilm collections in this room consists of records of the Department of State, including diplomatic and consular instructions and despatches, and significant segments of the Department's information-rich decimal file. Other important resources available are the microfilmed records of the Berlin Document Center and other records of the World War II-era German government that were captured by U.S. military forces and microfilmed before their repatriation after the war. The finding aids available to provide access to these records include our online Microfilm Catalog.
Most of the electronic files in our custody were created after 1960. These records may be from any type of computer application such as data processing, word processing, computer modeling, or geographic information systems. Among the types of holdings or subject areas currently represented are data relating to agriculture, attitudinal surveys, demographics, economic and financial statistics, education, environment, health and social services, international affairs, the military services, and science and technology. In some cases where specific records or data elements within electronic records are restricted from public access, we may make an extract of the records in a disclosure-free version, also known as a public use file. Documentation for electronic records is available for research, and you may obtain photocopies of this, either with the data or separately. You can find more information about NARA's electronic records holdings at:
Photographs and other visual images are included among the records in our custody. Military subjects, social programs, cultural history, economic affairs, diplomacy, natural resources and the environment, science and technology, notable individuals, and important events are dominant themes represented throughout the records. Among the holdings are official photographs created by the four military services, Mathew Brady Civil War photographs, Lewis Hine's documentation of child labor, photographs of National Parks by Ansel Adams, the work of New Deal photographers, and photographs documenting post-World War II America. Examples of virtually every photographic and photomechanical process and format can be found among these records, with records paralleling the ever-evolving history of photography. In addition, an estimated 15,000 posters are kept here as well. Most of the posters were produced during the two World Wars by the military services and civilian agencies supporting the war effort. For more information see the NARA web site at:
We house one of the world's largest audiovisual collections. Most motion picture and sound documentation relates to the activities of Federal agencies, including coverage of the principal officials, programs, and impacts in the United States and abroad. Farming, environment, labor, urban affairs, military operations, international relations, culture, civil defense, nuclear power, aviation, and space exploration are among the many diverse subjects portrayed. The films are primarily nonfiction and consist of edited and unedited footage, documentaries, newsreels, news film, instructional films, screen magazines, combat films, research and development test films, and other formats. The sound recordings consist of voice recordings of speeches, interviews, press conferences, interrogations, proceedings, and meetings. Video recordings consist of television news programs; telecast proceedings of Congress; agency information programs; public service spots; press conferences; meetings; interviews of Federal officials; edited programs; and unedited video footage of historical events. Donated materials from private individuals and organizations, such as newsreels and recordings of radio broadcasts that relate to many aspects of U.S. and world history, also are here. More information is available on the NARA web site at:
Exploration and scientific surveys, public land surveys and settlement, Indian affairs, hydrography and navigation, topography and natural resources, census data, urban development, foreign countries, and military campaigns are among the many subjects reflected in our vast map and chart holdings. We also have custody of several major series of architectural and engineering drawings created by civilian and military agencies, including some 28,000 plans of public buildings across the United States. A significant part of the holdings is over 100,000 original drawings submitted to the Patent and Trademark Office with applications for Federal patents between 1790 and 1870, including Eli Whitney's cotton gin. Aerial photographs, covering about 90 percent of the contiguous United States, as well as some foreign areas, date mostly from 1935 to the 1960s. The records also include some satellite imagery. Maps predating the establishment of the Federal Government and pre-20th-century maps of areas outside the United States are rare among our holdings. Similarly, architectural and engineering drawings relate almost exclusively to structures and equipment built by or for the Federal Government. There is more information about cartographic holdings at: