National Archives at Denver

Plan Your Research Visit


The National Archives at Denver provides researchers the opportunity to view original records created by federal agencies and courts in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. Because each record is a unique and irreplaceable piece of American history, researchers must follow certain rules, requirements, and guidelines in order to ensure the continued preservation of the records.   

Each National Archives facility holds different groups of records. To make the most efficient use of your time, please Contact Us by mail, email, or telephone in advance to make sure that the records you want to see are available at our location. 

When submitting an inquiry, include your contact information so that we can reach out to you in case more information is needed. All requests are answered in the order they are received, regardless of the method you use to communicate with us. Please allow 10 business days for us to respond, although we often are able to respond much sooner than that.

In order to answer your questions properly, please tell us:

  • your topic and what you are looking for;
  • geographic locations (region, state, city, etc.) that are relevant to your topic;
  • what federal agencies, offices, or individuals may have been involved and the time period you are interested in;
  • the kinds of records (textual, photographs, maps, drawings, etc.) you are looking for. 


Using Original Records

This information is only a brief introduction to what you should expect when you are working with original records at the National Archives at Denver.  It is not a complete list of our rules and regulations.  Before you can begin working with records, you will be required to review and agree to our research room rules and copy policies.


Obtaining a Researcher Card

Before using our archival holdings, every researcher must present a valid Researcher Card issued by the National Archives at Denver or another NARA facility. New researchers should plan for a total of 10-15 minutes to complete the registration process. To obtain a Researcher Card, an applicant must:

  • Show official identification that includes a photograph. Acceptable IDs include driver’s license, passport, and school and employment identification.
  • Complete a short form giving name, address, telephone number, and a brief description of the proposed research topic.
  • Receive a short researcher orientation from a staff member emphasizing safe handling of records and explaining the most basic research procedures, responsibilities, and rules.

Your Researcher Card must be present during each research visit.

Renewing or Replacing Your Researcher Card

  • Your Researcher Card is valid for one year.
  • You may renew your card at our location.
  • If you forget or lose your Researcher Card, talk to the staff when you arrive on your next planned research visit.  If your card was issued at Denver, we may be able to issue you a replacement

Before You Enter the Research Room

  • You must leave personal belongings in free, secure lockers. This includes coats, hats, bags, carrying cases, briefcases, purses, books, notebooks, and notepads.
  • You may bring in your own pencils and loose paper, or we can provide these for you.
  • Pens and highlighters are not allowed, nor are pressure sensitive notes, such as Post-Its.
  • Pre-written notes must be on loose paper (not on a pad or in a notebook).

Inside the Research Room

  • Only paper, pencils, and laptop computers may be used for note taking.
  • When you are using records in the Research Room, you can almost always make your own copies of both paper records and special media, such as photographs. Please talk with staff before beginning copy work as some fragile or oversize material may not be suitable for reproduction.
  • Our self-service copier is available for $0.25 per page (up to 11 x 17 inches), payable by credit card or check. The copier can be used to make paper copies or digital scans. There is no charge for making digital scans on the copier, but you will need to provide your own flash drive.
  • Personal Scanners must meet NARA requirements. No hand-held or auto feed scanner are allowed, click here for more information on using a personal Scanner. 
  • Cameras may be used to photograph documents, but flash photography is prohibited.
  • Eating, drinking, and smoking are not permitted in the Research Room.
  • Cell phones must be set to silent. Researchers need to step into the hallway to receive or make calls.
  • View a full list of allowed and prohibited items in our Research Room Guidance.

Tips for Handling Our Holdings

  • You are responsible for safeguarding the condition of the records that have been brought to you.
  • You may remove from a cart and open only one box or bound volume at a time.
  • You may remove and open only one folder from a box at a time.
  • The records should stay flat on the table at all times.
  • The records must be kept in the same order in which they are given to you. If folders in a box or pages in a folder appear to be out of order, do not rearrange the records yourself. Alert the staff instead.
  • Take care to avoid accidental damage to the documents. Never place your notepaper on top of a document you’re studying or use your pencil as a pointer.
  • Keep good notes as to records consulted.  Doing this will help you differentiate between multiple groups of records searched and your steps can be retraced if necessary.  If necessary, staff can show you how to properly construct a citation.


Using the Public Access Research Room


General Information

  • The Public Access Research Room (also known as the genealogy computer room) is currently CLOSED, please email for more information.