Rules of Access
The holdings of the Center for Legislative Archives are made available according to access policies set by the creator of the records. The Center holds both open and closed records. It is important to know the rules of access before planning your research visit to ensure the records you are interested in accessing are available. Some open records must be screened for privacy or other restrictions before they can be viewed. We strongly recommend that you contact the Center at (202) 357-5350 or firstname.lastname@example.org before you plan your research visit.
Note: The records of the legislative branch are not subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.
Access Policy for the Records of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate
The House and Senate determine access policies for their own records.
House Rule VII opens most House records when they are 30 years old. Records containing personal privacy, information closed by statute, and records of executive sessions are closed for 50 years.
Senate Resolution 474 from the 96th Congress opens most Senate records when they are 20 years old. Records containing personal privacy, information closed by statute, and records of executive nominations are closed for 50 years.
- Under the terms of Senate Resolution 431 from the 100th Congress, a Standing Order of the Senate prohibits the use of the Senate Recording Studio's committee hearing video recordings for political purposes. Users must sign this form affirming their agreement to this rule. The signed form should be forwarded to the Center for Legislative Archives at email@example.com. Note: the Center currently holds Senate Recording Studio hearing videos from the 108th through the 111th Congresses.
Access Policy for the Records of the Joint Committee of Congress
Access to the records of joint committees follow the access policy of whichever chamber transferred the records to the Center's custody. Contact the Center for access information for the joint committee that interests you.
Access Policy for Records of Legislative Commissions
Records of legislative branch commissions are accessioned under the provisions of the Federal Records Act. Each commission determines its own access policy. Some are open very soon after the records are transferred to the Center; others remain closed for a longer period. All the records must be screened for sensitive information. Contact the Center for access information for the legislative commission that interests you.
Access Policy for the Records of Legislative Organizations
Records of legislative branch organizations are accessioned under the provisions of the Federal Records Act. Most records, with a few exceptions, are open as soon as they are accessioned into the National Archives' custody.