National Archives at Boston

FAQs about the Archives

See Also:
About Records Management
FAQs about the Records Center Program


Do I have to wait to use a microfilm reader, or is there a time limit?

Researchers are assigned microfilm readers in 2-hour blocks of time, which may be renewed if there is no waiting list. With 44 microfilm readers, there is rarely a waiting list.


What can I bring or not bring into the research room (i.e. laptop, notebook, etc.)?

Researchers may bring laptop computers, notebooks, digital cameras, etc. into the microfilm research room. Researchers may not bring notebooks into the textual research room. Please refer to our Rules for Using Records


What type of records do you have?

Census records, ships passenger lists, and naturalization records used for genealogical research. See our section on Resources Available to You for more information.

Court records, maritime related records, and other records created or received by the Federal courts and over 90 Federal agencies in New England. See our section on Historical Documents for more information.


What do I need to bring with me in order to look up a naturalization record?

You need to know the person's name at the time of naturalization, the approximate date of naturalization between 1790 and the 1970s, and the city and state in New England where they were living. Some of this information can be found in the 1920 and 1930 census records, which you can access at the National Archives with just the person's name. See our section for Genealogists and Family Historians for more information.


What do I need to know to research my family tree?

There are 3 types of records beginning genealogists may want to look at. For Census records, you only need to know the name of an ancestor living anywhere in the United States or its territories between 1790 and 1930.

For Naturalization records, you need to know the person's name at the time of naturalization, the approximate date of naturalization between 1790 and the 1970s, and the city and state in New England where they were living. Some of this information can be found in the 1920 and 1930 census records.

For Immigration records (ships passenger lists and records of Canadian border crossings), you often need to know the port and date of arrival, the individuals name, and the name of the ship. Some of this information can be found in an individual's naturalization record. In some cases, an index may be available listing the passengers by name.

See our section on Genealogy Resources Available to You for more information on these 3 types of records.

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