About the National Archives

National Archives History

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National Archives building images compiled to form a graphic banner for the top of the page.

The National Archives History Office preserves and promotes the history of the National Archives.

Congress passed and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation establishing the National Archives in 1934 to preserve and care for the records of the U.S. Government. Previously, federal records were kept in various basements, attics, abandoned buildings, and other storage places with little security or concern for storage conditions. In 1935, National Archives staff and Works Progress Administration workers began to survey federal records and the next year the first batch of federal records were transferred to the new National Archives Building in Washington, DC. From one building on Pennsylvania Avenue, the National Archives now has over 40 facilities nationwide including field archives, Federal Records Centers, Presidential Libraries, the Office of the Federal Register, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), the National Declassification Center (NDC), and the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS). 

Learn more about our history and mission



History portal graphicThe National Archives has been compiling photographs of staff at work, records storage conditions, building construction, personnel activities, and much more since our establishment in 1934. Visit our Flickr galleries to see a selection National Archives photographs. And visit our Online Catalog to see thousands more of our historic photographs.