Getting Started Overview
Here's how to start researching records at the National Archives:
Why aren't all NARA's Archived Records Online?
Laid end to end, the sheets of paper in our holdings would circle the Earth over 57 times!
In addition to all of this paper, we have:
- over 93,000 motion picture films;
- more than 5.5 million maps, charts, and architectural drawings;
- more than 207,000 sound and video recordings;
- more than 18 million aerial photographs;
- nearly 35 million still pictures and posters;
- and more than 3.5 billion electronic records.
The volume grows at about 1.4 billion pages per year. Creating copies for our web site, and preserving those copies, simply exceeds our resources at this time.
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.