U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Privacy and Use Policies

Last revised: May 23, 2017

Privacy Statement

We take protecting your personal privacy seriously. This page describes our policies and procedures on the collection, use, and disclosure of your information. Visit our Privacy Office page to view the National Archives' privacy documentation, including Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) and System of Records Notices (SORNs).

What information is collected?

This website uses tools (Google Analytics Premium, CrazyEgg, Foresee, Visual Web Optimizer, and WebTrends) to collect heatmap, scroll map, and web traffic data to better understand how visitors engage with us. Please refer to the following privacy policies for more information about each tool:

Our web site search is provided by the U.S. General Services Administration. GSA may use a variety of tools to improve search performance.

Information Collected and Stored Automatically

Unless you choose to provide additional information to us, we collect no personal information about you other than statistical information that can be used to make the site more effective for our visitors. The information that is automatically collected and stored is:

  • The name of the domain (from which you access the Internet);
  • The IP address (a number that is automatically assigned to your computer when you are using the Internet) from which you access our site;
  • The type of browser and operating system used to access our site;
  • The date and time you access our site;
  • The Internet address of the website from which you linked directly to our site;
  • The country and state from which you access our site;
  • The pages you visit on our site; and
  • Search terms used to get to our website from an external search engine and terms used on our site search.

In certain circumstances, however, we may take additional steps to identify you based on this information and we may share this information, including your identity, with other government agencies.

Although questions, comments, and other communications that we receive generally are not retained as permanent records, please note that it is possible that any mail – electronic or paper – that we or any other Federal agency receive could be permanently retained by the agency, if the mail is part of a group of records determined to have permanent historical value.

Cookies

Like many websites, we use “persistent cookie” technology. Persistent cookies are small text files that this website places on your computer so that it can remember you when you show up again later—like cookie crumbs. None of these cookies store any of your personal information. We use persistent cookies in two ways, both of which enhance your experience on this website while also protecting your privacy:

  • To get aggregate metrics on site usage to understand how people are using the site and how we can make it better. We use web metrics services to track activity on the site. Government agencies only ever receive traffic statistics anonymously and in the aggregate.
     
  • To gather anonymous summary demographic information about our visitors such as gender, age range, and areas of interest for adults over the age of 18. We do this by using Google Demographic and Interests reports. When you visit a website that has partnered with the Google Display Network, Google stores a number in your browser using a persistent cookie to remember your visits. This number uniquely identifies a web browser, not a specific person. Browsers may be associated with a demographic category, such as gender or age range, based on the sites that were visited. This demographic information is used to help us better understand our visitors' interests and needs to more effectively develop content to serve you.

Most Internet browsers automatically accept persistent cookies. Although persistent cookies help us create a better experience for you, most of this website will also work without them. If you don’t want to accept cookies, you can change your browser’s options to not accept them or to prompt you before accepting them. Here’s how to disable cookies.

Some of our websites (such as Founder's Online) use a feature called "Web Storage" (which includes HTML5 "local storage") so users can retrieve searches or user-defined preferences, or data marked as a favorite. This feature creates a storage file on the user’s local hard drive that holds links to the resources from the website that the individual user previously searched or identified as a preference or favorite. No information from this file is transferred to NARA or any other website. Local storage files can be cleared through your browser settings or disabled, similar to cookies.

Embedded Applications

On occasion, the National Archives will embed media in its sites. For example, embedded videos and slideshows are most common on blogs like AOTUS: Collector in Chief. When we embed media from a third party, it is to enhance the visitor’s experience.

Where possible, we embed the media in a way that minimizes the use of cookies. Third party hosts of the embedded media do not collect personally identifiable information (PII) on behalf of NARA. Any PII they collect on their own behalf is not shared with NARA.

Some of the media embedded from a third party site is from NARA’s archival collections and is available through the National Archives Catalog or on archives.gov. Media from select current public programs is available on archives.gov. Embedded videos are captioned or a transcript will be provided on request.

Third-party Websites

The National Archives has a presence on several social media platforms. Each of these sites provides visitors with a unique way to interact with the National Archives and helps us to open our collections to the public. The National Archives official presence on a social media platform is marked by the use of a NARA logo or seal.

The essential information shared on these third party sites is available on archives.gov. In almost every case, the documents and records displayed on a third party are available in the National Archives Catalog.

The National Archives does not collect personally identifiable information through these social media platforms, as outlined in Privacy Impact Assessments. When a visitor shares PII, such as a Social Security number, we will, to the extent of our ability, remove the PII from the third party website in accordance with our comment and posting policies. The removed information will be retained and disposed of in accordance with the applicable records schedule. Access to this information is restricted to NARA employees who manage NARA’s presence on third party sites or who need access to the information to carry out their official duties. The information is secured as outlined in NARA’s internal management policy on the handling of personally identifiable information.

The third party site may retain back up files or other files that contain the removed PII. NARA has no control over the third party’s use of this information and makes no representations regarding the third party’s responsibilities.

In addition, the National Archives in conjunction with the National Archives Foundation has a number of educational websites hosted by third parties, including Docs Teach. These sites have their own privacy policies and allow visitors to log in, create profiles, and save information in those profiles. This information is only accessible by National Archives employees and contractors who manage these sites.

Mobile Apps

By downloading a mobile app created by the National Archives and Records Administration from either iTunes or the Google Play store, the user agrees to the following terms:

  • NARA does not collect any personally identifiable information (PII) about you when you download or use these mobile apps, nor do we retrieve, store or track your activities or any PII through the use of web cookies or other web measurement or customization technologies.
  • NARA does not see, collect, or store any data you enter into the apps. Any and all information you enter into an app is stored on your device and not on NARA’s website or server. As such, NARA is not responsible for any damages resulting from the loss or theft of that information.
  • While NARA does not charge for the use of its apps normal carrier data fees may apply. Please consult your carrier to discuss any charges related to the use of the apps.
  • NARA is a Federal Government entity and as such does not endorse any non-Federal US Government entities. You may not use this App or any of the information in this App to imply that NARA endorses you or your organization.

Personal Information

Some parts of our website let you voluntarily provide personal information, such as your name or email address. For example, you can provide us with your contact information to sign up for email alerts or to post comments to our blog. We do not collect this information when you visit our website unless you choose to provide it to us. When you provide it to us, we only use it for the purposes of communicating with you.

  • We do not sell any personal information to third parties.
  • We may transfer personal information to a third party in the following cases:
    • To a bank or United States Department of the Treasury account, which must receive payment for a transaction that you initiated;
    • To a company that is contracted to assist us with specific services, including electronic commerce or donations, and which agrees not to sell or use personal information for other purposes;
    • To legal authorities if we suspect that you are attempting to change or otherwise damage this website, or you are using it in violation of Federal or local laws;
    • To the National Archives Foundation and of the foundations associated with Presidential libraries, which are non-governmental 501(c)(3) organizations that support the programs and activities of the National Archives; or
    • To Congress or a court in response to a subpoena.

Orders

The orders you place for reproductions or publications on this site are processed by the National Archives Trust Fund, a division within the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The personal information you provide when you place an order with us may be used only to fulfill your order or to facilitate the preparation of internal statistical reports. The National Archives makes every effort to limit the number of people who have access to this personal information. The National Archives employees and authorized contractors who handle credit card information must ensure that it is treated as cash and secured accordingly. Any National Archives official, employee, or contractor who willfully discloses such protected information may be subject to the sanctions included in the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 552a). The National Archives Trust Fund will retain your order information only as long as required by law and National Archives policy. If you have questions about the use of your information by the National Archives Trust Fund, please write to National Archives Trust Fund, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740.

Email Information

Please do not send us sensitive information, such as your credit card or social security numbers, via email. It is possible that during transmission of your email this information may be intercepted by a third party. We cannot guarantee its safety while in transit.

We use return email addresses to answer the emails we receive. We would share your email with another Federal government agency only if your inquiry related to that agency or if we were required to do so by law.

User Accounts

When you voluntarily register for a user account on one of our websites, we ask you to supply some personal information about yourself. An email address and username are required; other information is optional but may be needed to complete specific tasks. Identification of users allows us to support content contributed by the public and to provide a more personalized experience of our websites.

If there are any issues related to your user account, we may use your email address and username to contact you about the issues involved.

Email Newsletters

The National Archives uses email newsletters as a way to communicate with readers about news and events, publications and programs, and share information about the holdings of the National Archives. A complete list of email newsletters published by the National Archives is located on archives.gov.

When you subscribe to an email newsletter, you may voluntarily provide personal information, such as your name or email address. We do not collect this information unless you choose to provide it to us. When you provide it to us, we only use it for the purposes of communicating with you. The National Archives does not collect any additional personally identifiable information when you sign up, nor do we sell any personal information to third parties.

You can revoke your permission at any time using the Unsubscribe link found at the bottom of every email newsletter.

Legal Notices

Disclaimer of Endorsement

Reference to specific commercial businesses, products, processes, or services by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, on any website administered by the National Archives does not constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or by the National Archives. Recognition of commercial businesses, institutions, and organizations mentioned on any website administered by the National Archives that relate, for example, to our development initiatives and partnerships does not imply endorsement by the Government.

NARA’s presence on any third party website, including any social media platform, does not constitute or imply its endorsement of the site. Nor does NARA endorse any social media provider when embedding media from a third-party site. NARA’s presence on these sites enhances the public’s ability to access to our collections and allows individuals to more easily obtain information about our programs and services.

External Links

We provide links from our web pages to external websites because they provide information that may interest our customers. This is provided as a convenience only. External links do not constitute an endorsement by the National Archives of the opinions, products, or services presented on the external site, or of any sites linked to it. The National Archives is not responsible for the legality or accuracy of information on externally linked sites, or for any costs incurred while using externally linked sites.

External links are intended to support NARA’s mission. They are not intended to support private or commercial organizations or businesses.

Copyright, Restrictions, and Permissions Notice

Generally, materials produced by Federal agencies are in the public domain and may be reproduced without permission. Works of the U.S. Government that have been produced by the National Archives and Records Administration are in the public domain and may be copied and distributed without permission. These works are available for worldwide use and reuse under the terms of the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal license.

However, not all materials appearing on this website are in the public domain.

Some materials, particularly items in the holdings of the National Archives of the United States may have been donated or obtained from individuals or organizations and may be subject to restrictions on use.

  • If you have copyright information about an item you've seen on our website, including items in the National Archives Catalog, or if you are the copyright owner and believe our website has not properly attributed your work to you or has used it without permission, we want to hear from you. Please email copyright@nara.gov with your contact information and a link to the relevant content.

You may consult our reference staff for details on specific items. We are aware of donor restrictions applicable to our collections, but we cannot confirm copyright status for any item.

  • We recommend that you contact the United States Copyright Office at The Library of Congress to search currently copyrighted materials.
  • Please note that because we cannot guarantee the status of specific items, you use materials found in our holdings at your own risk.
  • Images on our website (or a third party site where we share images, such as Flickr) which are in the public domain may be used without permission. If you use images from our collections, we ask that you credit us as the source. Please note that some images on our site have been obtained from other organizations. Permission to use these images should be obtained directly from those organizations.
  • Links may be made to our website from other personal and organizational web pages. We request that you link to our site rather than downloading portions of it to another web server, so that our viewers will see our most up-to-date information.
  • Certain individuals depicted may claim rights in their likenesses and images. Use of photographs or other materials found on the National Archives' website may be subject to these claims. Anyone who intends to use these materials commercially should contact the individuals depicted or their representatives.

Donor Imposed Restrictions upon Materials in our Holdings

Please note that dissemination of some documents – including images, sound, cartographic, textual, or electronic materials – found in our holdings may be restricted by donor agreement. To purchase a copy of these materials, you must obtain permission from the donor. We have provided a Source and Permissions Contact List for some motion pictures, sound and video which may assist you. If you have questions about this process, please contact us.

Security

For site security purposes and to ensure that this service remains available to all users, we use special software programs for monitoring network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage to to this government computer system. These programs collect no information that would directly identify individuals, but they do collect information that could help us identify someone attempting to tamper with this website.

If you use this system, you should understand that all activities may be monitored and recorded. Anyone using this system expressly consents to such monitoring. If such monitoring reveals possible evidence of criminal activity, monitoring records may be provided to law enforcement officials.

Except for authorized law enforcement investigations, we make no other attempts to identify individual users or their usage habits. We only use raw monitoring data logs for determining trends in usage patterns and in diagnosing system problems.

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