National Archives at Philadelphia

Historical Research

Original Records

The National Archives at Philadelphia has more than 65,000 cubic feet of archival records, including paper documents, photographs, maps, and architectural drawings, dating from 1789 to 1980s. These court, civilian, and military archival records were created or received by nearly 80 Federal agencies and the Federal courts in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Federal law requires agencies to transfer historic archival records to NARA.

Subjects covered include, but are not limited to, the region's lighthouses, landmark Federal court cases, railroads, school desegregation, Chinese exclusion acts, fugitive slave laws, national parks and historic sites, merchant marines, violations of Federal laws such as tax evasion and smuggling, and the work of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Selected finding aids, including a comprehensive guide to archival records, are available by mail and the NARA web site. The public may visit the archives facility in person, or contact us by telephone, mail, or e-mail. Visitors who wish to use archival records should call in advance.

NARA Researcher ID Cards

To use archival records, visitors must present a NARA researcher identification card. Applicants must show official identification with a photograph, such as a driver's license, passport, school, or business ID. Applicants must complete a form providing their name, address, telephone number, and a brief description of their research. NARA researcher ID cards are valid for 1 year. They may be renewed.

Until renovations are completed, please contact us by mail, telephone, fax, mail, or e-mail.

Contact Information


National Archives at Philadelphia
14700 Townsend Road
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19154-1096

Telephone: (215) 305-2044

Fax: (215) 305-2038


In your correspondence, please include your

  • name
  • address
  • telephone number
  • e-mail

Please provide as much information as possible about your research topic, such as the record group, important names, time period, and geographic location.