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Why aren't all documents in the National Archives online?
The volume of materials – paper-based, electronic, and sound and video recordings – is huge. Laid end to end, the paper documents in the National Archives' holdings would circle the Earth over 57 times! Online Research Tools
Start Your Genealogy Research
We have arranged the Genealogy section of the web site by research topics, or types of records available to search.
From the Research Topics pages, you will find links to pages throughout the web site with articles, finding aids, and other helpful information to help you prepare for your genealogical research at the National Archives.
The records in our holdings that are most commonly used by genealogists include:
- Census Records
- Military Records
- Immigration Records (Ship Passenger Lists)
- Naturalization Records
- Land Records
Online Learning Resources
Videos from our genealogy workshops are also available, with many topics on how to get started using NARA records:
What Records You Can Find Online
The National Archives web site has very few actual records online. The National Archives has a very large amount of records that are useful for genealogy, but most of these records are not online. Our web site's focus is on providing research tools, such as microfilm indexes, as well as resources, such as finding aids, articles and information on where to find the records and how to access them, and how to conduct in-person research.
This doesn't mean we have no interesting or valuable records available online. Here's a list of some of our online records that might help you with genealogy.
- Casualty lists for the Korean and Vietnam
- Selected Chinese exclusion lists
- Fugitive Slave Case Papers, 1850 - 1860 and Petitions Filed Under the Fugitive
Slave Act (Fugitive Slave Petition Book), 1850-1860, Search in the Online Catalog
- Fort Smith, Arkansas: 50,000 Criminal Case Files, Search in the Online Catalog
- Appointments and Oaths of U.S. Marshals and Deputy Marshals, 1864-1912, Search in the Online Catalog
- Alien Registration Affidavits from the U.S. District Court, Phoenix Division, Search in the Online Catalog
- Chinese Exclusion Act files, Search in the Online Catalog
- Sample Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War
Service, ca. 1800 - ca. 1900, Search in the Online Catalog
- Records of Death and Interment at Camp Nelson, KY, 1864-1865, Search in the Online Catalog
- Sample Case Files of Members, Battle Mountain Sanitarium, 1907-1934, Search in the Online Catalog
- Spanish-American War Compiled Military Service Records for 1,235 "Rough Riders", Search in the Online Catalog
- State Summaries of War Casualties for the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard
during World War II, 1946, Search in the Online Catalog
- World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing Army and Army Air Forces Personnel, 1946, Search in the Online Catalog
- Dawes Rolls Index and Final Rolls, Search in the Online Catalog
- Casualty lists for WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War, Search in AAD (Access to Archives Databases)
- Prisoner of War lists from WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam War, Search in AAD
Passenger lists into the Port of
New York, 1846-1851, the "Famine Irish data files", Search in AAD
- Japanese-American Internee File, 1942 - 1946, Search in AAD
- Records of Duty Locations for Naval Intelligence Personnel, 1942 - 1945, Search in AAD
- Index to the Gorgas Hospital Mortuary Death Records, 1979 - 1991, Search in AAD
- Records of Awards and Decorations of Honor During the Vietnam Conflict, 10/1968 - 12/1972, Search in AAD
Note: The National Archives has a subscription to Ancestry and Heritage Quest, which have digitized many of NARA's holdings with genealogical interest, and made them available online. There is unlimited access to these services, free-of-charge, from any NARA facility nationwide.