Getting Started Overview

Here's how to start researching records at the National Archives:

About the Records at the National Archives

Of all documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal government, only 1%-3% are so important for legal or historical reasons that they are kept forever. Those valuable records are preserved in the National Archives and are available to you, whether you want to see if they contain clues about your family's history, need to prove a veteran's military service, or are researching an historical topic that interests you.

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News and Notices

red information icon Research rooms will close at 3 p.m. on Thursday, December 24, and be closed December 26–27 and January 1–2. Museums in Washington, DC, and at the Presidential libraries are closed on Christmas Day, and library museums are closed on New Year's Day. See the full schedule for the winter holidays.

When you arrive


What to expect when you research at the National Archives

  • This video addresses procedures and security measures at the National Archives in Washington, DC, as well as how to use the research room and records.

Research >

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272