Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

Interim Guidance 1600-4: Research Application Procedures

January 14, 2002

SUBJECT: Research Application Procedures

TO: Office Heads, Staff Directors, ISOO, NHPRC, OIG

1. What is the purpose of this directive?
This guidance strengthens, for security reasons, existing research application procedures and makes the process of issuing researcher identification cards more uniform.

2. What is the authority for this directive?
Our regulations for the research application process and researcher identification cards are codified in 36 CFR 1254.4 and 1254.6. The Archivist's authority to issue regulations (44 U.S.C. 2104(a)) permits the establishment of research application procedures.

3. Who needs a researcher identification card?

    a. Anyone who wishes to have access to original archival materials for research must apply in person for a researcher identification card. Individuals who will use other materials, such as microforms or public access computers, in research rooms in which original archival materials are used by others also must apply for a researcher identification card.

    b. Researchers who have received a researcher identification card at any facility except the National Archives at College Park (Archives II) must have their card replaced when visiting Archives II. The researcher application and registration procedures at Archives II are automated and registration in each research room is dependent on the magnetic strip on the back of the researcher identification card. The Archives II card is valid at all other NARA facilities, and a card issued at one regional archives or Presidential library is valid at all facilities except Archives II.

4. Are temporary researcher identification cards permitted?
No. Do not grant a temporary researcher identification card pending the presentation of an individual's picture identification.

5. Do tour groups or school groups participating in workshops need to apply for researcher identification cards?
Tour or school groups who will only be shown original records for the purpose of instruction in the presence of a tour group or workshop leader do not need to apply for researcher identification cards. However, any groups that will be using records to conduct research as part of their visit must apply for researcher identification cards. Staff arranging tours and workshops should advise such groups of this requirement.

6. Who does not need a researcher identification card?

    a. Anyone who wishes to use only microfilm copies of records (not original archival materials) at the Microfilm Research Room at the National Archives Building or in a separate, self-contained microfilm research room in regional records services facilities does not need to apply for or present a researcher identification card.

    b. Persons seeking only information that is published and readily available should be referred to a public library (see 36 CFR 1254.1(c)).

7. What documentation is needed to apply for a researcher identification card?
Researchers must provide the following materials:

    a. Appropriate identification.

        (1) Applicants must present identification containing a picture of the applicant, such as a driver's license, school identification card (for students and faculty), passport, or employment identification. A picture identification from an official Government agency (e.g., state driver's license, passport, etc.) showing the applicant's name and address is the preferred identification.

        (2) Applicants who do not have picture identification may supply other proof of identity and residency at the discretion of the supervisory archivist in Customer Services Division (NWCC) units, the supervisory archivist in the Presidential libraries except at the Ronald Reagan Library (NLRR), the assistant library director for NLRR, and the director of archival operations in the regional records services facilities. If the supervisory archivist or director of archival operations is not available, direct questions to the next-level supervisor. Not all states provide photographs on driver's licenses. In cases where this is known, the supervisor may approve an applicant for a researcher identification card. Individuals not old enough to possess driver's licenses or who do not have photo student identification cards may be provided a researcher identification card if the minor's parent vouches for the minor's identity and provides photo identification.

        (3) Students under the age of 14 must present a letter from a teacher indicating that they have a need to conduct research with original, primary documents for a school project. If a group of students visits with their teacher, each student must apply for a researcher identification card and the teacher may vouch for each student's identity.

    b. A completed researcher application form, submitted in person. First-time and renewal applicants must complete the researcher application form (NA Form 14003 or NA Form 14003A [Presidential libraries]) online at Archives II or in hardcopy elsewhere with all the information requested. For specific information relating to applicant addresses, see par. 8.

8. What address information is necessary on the researcher application?

    a. An applicant's permanent home mailing address and telephone number must be supplied in the appropriate blocks provided on the form if conducting research solely for personal business. Most applicants should have a street address and must provide that if they have one, but individuals who live in rural areas may have only a post office box address or rural route number. Direct any questions about the validity of an applicant's address to the supervisors listed in par. 7a(2).

    b. An applicant's employment address and telephone number may be supplied on the form in the appropriate blocks provided on the form if conducting research solely for his or her employer.

    c. Self-employed applicants who are conducting research for others should use the address and telephone number they normally use for business purposes.

    d. Researchers conducting research at a NARA facility for more than one week while living in temporary local housing must also supply their temporary address. In addition to following the guidance in subpars. a through c, researchers whose permanent address is outside of the United States must provide their permanent overseas address and their temporary local address.

9. What must I do with the researcher application information?

    a. Review the information on the application and compare it to the picture identification the applicant provides. If the address on the picture identification does not match the address on the application, determine whether the applicant is providing a temporary local address. If so, indicate this on the application form. If not and the applicant has moved since the picture identification was issued, ask the applicant for proof of the new address. The applicant must present one other piece of documentation showing his or her name and new address (e.g., voter registration card, motor vehicle registration, phone or utility bill, or bank statement). Do not issue a researcher identification card to anyone who cannot provide this additional proof.

    b. Compare the applicant's physical appearance to the picture presented on the applicant's identification. Examine the identification to make sure that it looks genuine. Government identifications usually have a logo, are laminated, or otherwise indicate that they are official identifications. Refer to the supervisors in par. 7a(2) any questions about validity of the identification.

    c. Maintain accurate, organized, and complete files of researcher applications in accordance with NARA's records schedule (FILES 203, appendix 14).

10. What restrictions apply to researcher application files?
Access to researcher application files in paper or electronic format is protected by the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 552a) and limited to authorized staff. For more information, see Interim Guidance 1600-2, Use of NARA's Privacy Act Systems for Investigations.

11. What guidance is superseded by this interim guidance?
This interim guidance supersedes LIBRARIES 1401, ch. 4, par. 2a and NAR P1848.1A, part 3, par. 32a.

12. Where should I file this interim guidance?
File this interim guidance with LIBRARIES 1401 and ARCHIVES 1400.

13. Whom can I contact for more information?
For any questions that cannot be answered by the supervisors listed in par. 7a(2), the supervisor should contact Jenny Heaps (NPOL) in room 4100, AII; on 301-713-7360, ext. 245; by fax on 301-713-7270; or by e-mail.

Archivist of the United States