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Records of the National Security Agency/Central Security Service (RG 457)

Introduction

The National Security Agency (NSA) is a separately organized agency within the Department of Defense. The NSA coordinates and directs the signal intelligence activities of the United States as well as cryptography by developing systems to enhance U.S. communications security.

The Central Security Service (CSS) was established in the Department of Defense in 1971. CSS exercises oversight responsibility for several military cytological agencies, including U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, Naval Security Group Command and United States Air Force Electronic Security Command; and served as a step towards centralizing NSA and military cryptographic assets. The CSS promotes full partnership between the NSA and the cryptologic elements of the Armed forces and coordinates and develops policy and guidance on the Signals Intelligence and Information Assurance missions.

More information about the history of the NSA can be found online. Other resources include can be found under Related Web Pages. The NSA also supports the National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade, Maryland, which is home to many superlative resources on the history of cryptology in general and of the history of American cryptology in particular.

The National Security Agency had several predecessor agencies. Records generated or maintained by these predecessors are included in Record Group 457. For this reason, while the NSA was not established until 1952, it includes records of interest to those researching earlier periods. Many of the records in RG 457 were not created by the NSA/CSS. These records were generated by predecessor agencies, and maintained and used by the NSA/CSS.

Predecessor agencies whose records may be represented in Record Group 457 include subdivisions of the War Department, the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy, the National Military Establishment, and the Department of Defense.

Other agencies that are heavily represented in RG 457 include the Signals Intelligence Service and its subdivisions, the Army Security Agency and its subdivisions, the Armed Forces Security Agency, subdivisions of the Office of Naval Intelligence, and the United States Air Force Security Service, among others.

These web pages are intended to provide only a basic orientation to the NSA/CSS records in the National Archives. For more information, please consult the section of the Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives on Record Group 457 as well as the other links provided.

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