About the National Archives

National Archives History Sources

Interested in learning more about National Archives History? Below are several relevant publications for doing historical research. 


Archivists of the United States

Appointment of the First Archivist of the United States

Facial Hair Friday: Archivist of the United States Bert Rhoads

Our First Archivist, Robert D.W. Connor

Archivist Solon J. Buck: Wartime Leader

An Archivist for the Ages: Wayne C. Grover

Robert H. Bahmer: Bringing the National Archives into the Spotlight

Bert Rhoads: Recordkeeper in Chief

Fighting for Independence: Sixth Archivist Robert M. Warner

Don Wilson: Embracing Independence

John W. Carlin: Bringing the National Archives into the 21st Century

Ninth Archivist Allen Weinstein

Remembering James Berton “Bert” Rhoads, Fifth Archivist of the United States (1968-1979)

National Archives Staff

Historic Staff Spotlight: Richard McCulley, Historian of the Records of Congress

Historic Staff Spotlight: Faye Geeslin

Historic Staff Spotlight: Evangeline Thurber

Historic Staff Spotlight: Eunice Whyte—Navy Veteran of both World Wars

Historic Staff Spotlight: Linda J. Henry

T. R. Schellenberg: Maker of a Modern, American Archives

Historic Staff Spotlight: John Mendelsohn

Historic Spotlight: Budge Weidman

Historic Staff Spotlight: Kathryn M. Murphy

Historic Staff Spotlight: Lucille Joppy

Historic Staff Spotlight: Mildred B. Berry

Thad Page, First Administrative Secretary for the National Archives

Historic Staff Spotlight: Blanca Tomé

Historic Staff Spotlight: Fran Brooks

Historical Staff Spotlight: Mary Walton McCandlish Livingston

Historic Staff Spotlight: Josef C. James

Historic Staff Spotlight: Robert L. Clarke

Historic Staff Spotlight: Marion Tinling

Historic Staff Spotlight: Helen Beach

Historic Staff Spotlight: Lillian Grandy

Historic Staff Spotlight: Bess Glenn

Sam Anthony Brightened NARA

Facial Hair Friday: Meyer Fishbein

Josephine Cobb’s Discovery of a Lifetime

Robert “Bob” Wolfe: Captured German Records Expert

Remembering Jim Moore

Mr. and Mrs. Claus Were Not Communists

“Observations” of Native American Records at the National Archives

A Pioneer in Electronic Records

Our First Intern

Drafting a Guide: American Jewish History Resources

What’s Your Story, Adelaide Minogue?

Sara Dunlap Jackson: Archivist Extraordinaire

Margaret M.H. Finch, War Records Keeper

Clio was a woman: Trailblazers at the National Archives

Ms. Archivist

Acting Archivist Trudy Huskamp Peterson

Elizabeth Hamer Kegan: Educator and Innovator

Dr. Elizabeth B. Drewry: A Leading Lady

Claudine Weiher: The Fight for Independence

Virginia C. Purdy: Fighting for Women’s History

Celebrating Black History Month

James D. Walker: Lone Messenger to International Genealogist

Harold Pinkett: An Archivist and Scholar

Leon Poyner: Supporting the Archives for 25 Years

The Wild, Wild West . . . of Pennsylvania Avenue

Miriam and Me: The Beginnings of an Archival Adventure and Friendship in 1996

National Archives Building

#ArchivesPets on the National Archives Building

New Online Exhibits: “Presidential Visits to the National Archives Building

Celebrating African Artists at the National Archives

National Archives Heritage Baby

The National Archives Recorded Music Association

An American Symbol Forged from the Progressive Era: The National Archives Building

Explore "Our Neighborhood"

Pneumatic Tube Transport

The Story of the Faulkner Murals

Lights, Camera, Archives! 

Remembering 1956

Notorious RBG at the National Archives

My Fellow Americans: Bill of Rights Day at the National Archives

The Rubenstein Gallery: Five Years of Celebrating Citizens’ Rights

#Archives80s: DC in the 80s

Doors of Monumental Proportions

The National Archives’ larger-than-life statues

National Archives-Thai Friendship

The Jefferson Memorial Turns 75

New Web Exhibits Explore the Inside of the National Archives Building

From 1600 to 700 Pennsylvania Avenue: Presidential Visits to the National Archives

Temple of our History

The Act that gave us the National Archives

National Archives War Memorial Plaque

The other FDR Memorial

Illuminating the National Archives

Solon Buck Portrait

Symbols of Significance: The Pediments of the National Archives Building

Surrender? Nuts!

The National Archives, the Fireman’s Insurance Building and the Carter G. Woodson House

Presidential Libraries

The Death of a President

New Online Exhibit: The “Old Navy” Prints and Watercolors

Celebrating JFK

Laying the Cornerstone of the FDR Library

The Big Move: From the White House to Our House

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library: Paving the way

The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library: The 30-Year Journey

Hoover Library: Honoring Iowa’s only President

Lady Bird Johnson: The Mastermind Behind the LBJ Presidential Library

Ernest Hemingway and the JFK Library

The Creation of the Nixon Library

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library: Managing the Materials of a Modern Eight-Year Presidency

The 60th Anniversary of the Presidential Library Act of 1955

National Archives Nationwide

Archives II turns 30

The National Archives Celebrates 50 Years on South Pulaski Road in Chicago

The National Archives in Hawaii

The National Archives and the Electoral College

New York City U.S. Custom House Employee: Matthew Henson

Heated to Ignition: The 1978 Suitland Film Vault Fire

The Percentage of Permanent Records in the National Archives: A 1985 Article Revisited

The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House and the National Archives at New York City

Promoting Our Documentary Heritage: The NHPRC

The National Archives at New York

Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files and the USCIS Master Index

Archives Spotlight: San Francisco

Setting up the Federal Register, 1935

National Personnel Records Center (NPRC)

Atomic Veterans Commemorative Service Medal

National Personnel Records Center Fire Series: Origins

National Personnel Records Center Fire Series: The Fire

National Personnel Records Center Fire Series: The Aftermath

Veterans’ Military Records–We’ve Got Them

End of an Era: The National Defense Service Medal

Fall In! Morning Reports with the National Archives

Contact, Brawls, and Chambering: The Combat Action Ribbon

Becoming Bigger and Better: The NPRC After the Great Fire of 1973

Protecting Human Welfare: The Humanitarian Service Medal

Recognizing Service: How to Determine Entitlement to Medals

Honoring Heroes: The Award Card Record Series

‘For Wounds Received in Action’: The History of the Purple Heart Medal

Burnt in memory: Looking back at the 1973 St. Louis fire

Burned and brittle records are in good hands

One fire, 5 days, and 381 men

Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights at the National Archives Building

Constitution Day: Remembering Our Responsibilities and Opportunities as Citizens

Solving the Mystery of the Bill of Rights

Drafting the U.S. Constitution 

The Binns Engraving of the Declaration of Independence

The Long S

The Entire Constitution for Constitution Day

The Mosler Model

The Freedom Train, 1947-1949

Thanksgiving Aboard the Freedom Train

What you may not know about the Bill of Rights

Constitution Day 1985 and Ross Perot’s Magna Carta

Bill of Rights Day: Celebrating Our Most Precious Freedoms

Bill of Rights Day: the People's Vote

Constitution Day through the years

Carting the Charters

The “Pocket Constitution” makes a comeback

A Record-Setting Amendment

Protecting the Bill of Rights: the Mosler Vault

The Bill of Rights: 14 Originals

Annual Birthday Party for the Declaration of Independence

I am an American

The Travels of the Bill of Rights, Emancipation Proclamation, and other National Archives Holdings on the Freedom Train, 1947-1949

History of Records 

The First Guide to Federal Records

The National Archives Council

Public Access to Census Records at the National Archives

Census Records Come to the National Archives

Census Records: The 72-Year Rule

Preserving the Dunlap Broadside of the Declaration of Independence

Appraising FBI Records in New York City and Los Angeles, 1981: A Personal Diary

Gone with the Wind

Positives and Negatives

Survey of Federal Records

The Lane Faison Personal Diary comes to the National Archives

A Catalog for the Records, 1936

50 Years of the Pull Slip

Unratified Amendments

Unratified Amendments

Unratified Amendments: Titles of Nobility

Unratified Amendments: Protection of Slavery

Unratified Amendments: Regulating Child Labor

Unratified Amendments: The Equal Rights Amendment

Unratified Amendments: DC Voting Rights

General National Archives History

#ArchivesGames: Bowling and the National Archives

The Federal Women's Program

A Matter of National Security: The Role of the National Archives in Protecting Citizens

Facial Hair Friday: Ansel Adams—Photographer of the American West

Waldo G. Leland: A Founder of the National Archives

The origins of the Society of American Archivists

Hispanic Heritage Month at the National Archives | Mes de la Herencia Hispana en los Archivos Nacionales

The "EP" at the National Archives

The "Terr-A-Qua Globe"

J. Franklin Jameson: the Father of the National Archives

Women’s History in the Archives

African American History at the National Archives

The National Archives Response to Pearl Harbor

Happy “Other” Birthday, National Archives!

International Archives Day

Documenting National Archives History

Discovering “Origin Stories” of the National Archives

The Burning of Washington

The National Archives on the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web

NARA’s 75th Anniversary – Discovering Our Own Records

Prologue’s Story—So Far: Magazine Celebrates 49 Years of Discovering History (Winter 2018) David McMillen traces the history of the National Archives' magazine. 

“P.S.: You had better remove the records” Early Federal Archives and the Burning of Washington during the War of 1812 by Jessie Kratz (Summer 2014)

Moving Out, Moving In: The National Archives’ Important Role When the Presidency Changes Hands (Winter 2016) David McMillen explains the National Archives role in the Presidential transition process. 

The Declaration of Independence and the Hand of Time (Fall 2016)

Saving the Moving Images of WWI (Fall 2014)

Depicting the Creation of a Nation: The Story Behind the Murals About our Founding Fathers (Spring 2014)

Our Story (Summer 2009) On June 19, 1934, the National Archives was born. Seventy-five years later it has grown into the nation's record.

The NHPRC: Extending the Archives' Reach (Summer 2009) Kathleen Williams traces the 75-year history of the National Archives' grant-making arm.

Shaping the National Archives (Winter 2009) Greg Bradsher recounts how Wayne Grover, the third Archivist of the United States, placed the building blocks of the agency as it is known today.

Challenges: Those We Met, Those We Face (Winter 2008) The Archivist looks at the road ahead for the National Archives on the eve of its 75th anniversary.

Escorting a Presidency into History (Winter 2008) When a President leaves office, the National Archives is standing by to take custody of his records, which will help determine how history treats him.

FDR, Archivist: The Shaping of the National Archives (Winter 2006) In the spring of 1934, FDR took a keen interest in the newly established National Archives.

Secrecy and Salesmanship in the Struggle for NARA's Independence (Spring 2005) Robert Warner, sixth Archivist of the United States, recounts the steps toward an independent National Archives in the 1980s.

Creating the National Archives (Summer 2004) Seventy years ago, on June 19, 1934, FDR signed into law "an Act to establish a National Archives of the United States Government."

Construction Projects Now Under Way Will Protect Records of the Past . . . And of the Future (Spring 2003) The National Archives and Records Administration is upgrading its facilities to better preserve the records and serve our customers.

Historic Murals Conservation at National Archives Building (Spring 2003) Barry Faulkner's depiction of the presentations of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will light up the Rotunda after major restoration work.

Rotunda Reopening Launches New Era for National Archives (Summer 2003) The Charters of Freedom return to public display, and the National Archives Experience gets ready to take off.

Fort Archives: The National Archives Goes to War (Summer 2003) In wartime Washington, a young agency proves its worth in the drive for victory and wins over skeptics who question its value.

Renewing the Spirit of Independence (Fall 2003) Celebrates the return of the Charters of Freedom, the reopening of the Rotunda of the National Archives Building, and the first phase of the National Archives Experience.

A New Era Begins for the Charters of Freedom (Fall 2003) Conservators reveal details of their work on our founding documents.

A Top-to-Bottom Renovation for the National Archives Building (Fall 2003) The grand structure gets an upgrade after 68 years.

Travels of the Charters of Freedom (Winter 2002) Our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, had a long and sometimes perilous existence before being entrusted to the National Archives in 1952.

Ambacher, Bruce I., Thrity Years of Electronic Records [Landham, Maryland: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2003]

Flippin, Percy Scott, The Archives of the United States Government: A Documentary History [Washington DC: Division of Research, National Archives, 1938].

Gondos, Victor, J. Franklin Jameson and the birth of the National Archives, 1906-1926 [Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981].

Gustafson, Milton O. " The Empty Shrine: The Transfer of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to the National Archives The American Archivist 39:3 (July 1976) 271-285.

Jones, H. G., The Records of a Nation: Their Management, Preservation, and Use. [New York: Atheneum,1969].

McCoy, Donald R., The National Archives: America's Ministry of Documents, 1934-1968. [Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1978].

Moshe, Erik., Reflections of Two American Archivists on the Soviet Union’s Archives. [2017]

Poole, Alexander., "Harold T. Pinkett and the Lonely Crusade of African American Archivists in the Twentieth Century," The American Archivist (2017) 80 (2): 296–335.

Stender, Walter W. and Evans Walker, "The National Personnel Records Center Fire: A Study in Disaster," The American Archivist (1974) 37 (4): 521-549.

Viola, Herman J., The National Archives of the United States. [New York: H.N. Abrams, 1984].

Warner, Robert Mark, Diary of a Dream: a History of the National Archives Independence Movement, 1980-1985. [Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1995].

Women's History Month Spotlight: National Archives Employee Adrienne Thomas, 2023. This short video looks the career of former Acting Archivist Adrienne Thomas, and focuses on her role in the building of the National Archives at College Park.


Women's History Month Spotlight: National Archives Employee Helen Beach, Inventor of the Beach Wagon, 2023. The National Archives looks back at the career of employee Helen Beach and her World War II era invention of a wooden wagon to transport records during a time of metal shortages. 


History of Census Records and the National Archives, May 18, 2022. As part of a virtual genealogy series on the census, Historian Jessie Kratz presents the history of census records in relation to the history of the National Archives. 


The National Archives at College Park, MD - 20th Anniversary, 2014. The National Archives building in College Park, MD, opened to the public for research on January 4, 1994. In celebration of its 20th anniversary, this documentary presents NARA staff recollections and remembrances of the design, construction, and move to “Archives II.”


If These Walls Could Talk, September 24, 2009. Archivist Rick Blondo shares the history of the National Archives and its flagship building in Washington, DC, from the moats surrounding 'Fort Archives' and its elaborate facades, to the sound stages used in the blockbuster film "National Treasure."


Your National Archives, 1955. A promotional motion picture highlighting the breadth of the National Archives' holdings and activities.


Origin Stories: Discovering the Records of the National Archives, October 27, 2014. In a live program in the McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building, archivist Alan Walker discussed the history of the of the National Archives through its records.


Meyer Fishbein Remembers, November 20, 2013. The National Archives Assembly hosted a live interview and audience Q&A session with Mr. Meyer Fishbein, a long-time appraisal archivist (retired 1980), SAA Fellow, and electronic records pioneer. Rod Ross, an archivist at the Center for Legislative Archives conducted the interview.


History of the National Archives Holdings, November 21, 2011. From the War Department Fire in 1800 to the establishment of the National Archives in 1934, archivist Connie Potter looks at why some records did not survive and how others just made it to the National Archives. Her focus is on records of genealogical interest.

Most issues of Prologue magazine are available online from the HathiTrust Digital Library