Finding Aids: General Information Leaflet 71

General Information Leaflet 71
The National Archives in the Nation's Capital –
Information for Researchers


Access to government information is essential in a democratic nation. Good recordkeeping by government agencies, the preservation of important records, and public access to those records are critical for tracing the vast scope and great diversity of Federal Government activities and decisions of public officials. We at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) are dedicated to making these historical records available to all.

This pamphlet highlights the archival holdings and research support services available at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, and the National Archives at College Park, MD. The records in these two buildings reflect our mission to ensure, for the citizen and the public servant, for the President and the Congress and the Courts, ready access to essential evidence. Our goals are to ensure that you receive prompt service from NARA staff, to simplify access to NARA records regardless of where they are or where you are, and to direct you, when appropriate, to alternative sources of information.

Today the National Archives of the United States holds hundreds of millions of records. These textual documents, aerial photographs, architectural and engineering drawings, charts, electronic data files, maps, microforms, motion pictures, sound recordings, still pictures, and video recordings are all preserved because they are important to the workings of government, establish individuals' legal rights, have long-term research interest, and provide information of value to citizens.

These various types of records often complement one another. Frequently there is a relationship between different kinds of records. For example, NARA preserves enumeration district maps that supplement our microfilmed census population schedules and enumeration district-based statistical data in electronic records files. Electronic records of military ground and air sorties during the Vietnam Conflict can be used in conjunction with military unit histories and other operational records on paper. If you are interested in a World War II-era U.S. Navy ship, you can likely find logbooks, architectural plans, and photographs of the ship among our holdings. By using various types of records you gain a broader research perspective.

The records found in the Washington, DC, area facilities constitute only part of NARA's nationwide archival holdings, which include Those in regional records services facilities and Presidential libraries. The holdings of our regional records services facilities document Federal operations at the state and local level. For further information on these facilities, including the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO, consult General Information Leaflet (GIL) 22, Services for the Public at NARA's Regional Records Services Facilities, or call 301-837-2950 . Presidential libraries serve as repositories for the papers, records, and other historical materithere are also individual GILs available for most of the regional archives. Materials of Presidents from Herbert Hoover to the present. Consult GIL 64, Presidential Libraries, or call 301-837-3250 for further information concerning Presidential materials. For more information about all NARA facilities, please consult our web site at

General Information Leaflet 71 – 2001
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