Federal Agency Access to Textual Records in College Park, Maryland
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the depository of the permanently valuable non-current records of the Federal Government. Our mission is to preserve the records for posterity and make them available. As part of our reference service, we provide information about the records, make copies of the records for a fee, and make records available for use in our research rooms.
NARA is also an important partner for federal agencies headquartered in the Washington Metro area. Increasingly, these agencies are seeking access for current business to their records that are already accessioned as permanently valuable (archives) at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. This guidance provides the steps involved to facilitate access and to discern the difference between retrieving records stored at the Washington National Records Center (WNRC) in Suitland, Maryland and accessing those held by the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.
Records held by the National Archives in College Park (Archives II) are permanent. These have been designated as archives and are the legal custody of NARA. They cannot be removed from the building and they must be examined in the textual research room (room 2000). Fee copiers are available in the research room. Researchers also are able to bring in their own NARA approved scanners. Online guidance is available.
By contrast, Agency records stored in a Federal Records Center (FRC) remain in the legal custody of the creating agency. These records can be examined at the Record Center or for a fee, can be returned to the creating agency for a business need.
Before you Visit the National Archives at College Park
Agencies must first determine if the records are at the WNRC or have been accessioned into the National Archives. If the determination is that the records are at Archives II, agencies should provide, at a minimum, the accession number, a copy of the SF-115 or some basic information so that the records can be located and retrieved. Agencies should consult with their records officer for this information. Click here for a list of current Federal Records Officers.
If it is determined that the records are unprocessed, recently accessioned and less than 30 years old and needed for current agency business NARA requires that the agency submit in writing (email/fax/letter) that the information in the records is required for that agency’s business needs and the name(s) of the individuals who will be requesting and working with the records. The reason for this protocol is the Government’s handling of non-classified otherwise sensitive Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI).
The other reason why NARA needs to control access to these kinds of records is “Personally Identifiable Information” (PII), such as Social Security numbers. Records deemed to have any or both of these kinds of issues are only accessible to the general public by a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request. The written request thus satisfies NARA’s requirement for agencies to examine otherwise sensitive material. Agencies should contact the Textual Reference section (information below) to begin the process of viewing the material. If the records are classified, agencies need to go through the National Declassification Center (NDC) (301-837-1915) to reserve the classified research room. Prior to coming they have to have their clearances checked by NARA’s security’s staff (301-837-1494).
Textual Reference Fax Number
Textual Reference Email Address
(Please specify “agency request” in subject line)
Textual Reference Office
National Archives at College Park, MD
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
Location and Hours of Operation
The National Archives at College Park (Archives II) is located at 8601 Adelphi Road, between Metzerott Road and University Boulevard/Greenbelt Road, just inside the Beltway between the New Hampshire Avenue and Route 1 Exits. A staff shuttle bus runs on the hour from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, except legal holidays, between the National Archives buildings in College Park, MD and Washington, DC. Research room hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, except legal holidays.
Registering for a Researcher’s Card
Anyone who wishes to examine textual records at the National Archives needs to register for a researcher’s card on the ground floor in the Customer Service Center (Room 1000). They must bring a form of official government identification in order to be issued a NARA researcher card. Acceptable forms of identification include a driver’s license, passport, federal employee identification or military identification. The identification must be current, not expired. They must also view an online orientation presentation before receiving a researcher’s card. Entitled Help Us Protect the Records - Orientation for Researchers at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) can be viewed on one of the PC’s located in Room 1000.
Working in the Textual Research Room
Records are retrieved for researchers in textual research room Monday through Friday at:
10:00a.m, 11:00a.m., 1:00p.m., 2:00p.m. and 3:00p.m. Monday through Friday. There are no records pulls on Saturdays. Researchers need to fill out their pull slips in the consultation room adjacent the main research room floor. Our goal is to deliver records to the researcher within one hour of the pull time when the records were requested.