Other Law Enforcement Records at the National Archives
As you begin your research, consider how your topic relates to the mission of each of these agencies.
The National Archives at College Park holds records of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in Record Group 436: Records of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
Our ATF holdings are very limited in scope, consisting primarily of publications and administrative records such as directives, circulars, and policy statements. We also hold ATF databases related to firearms and explosives tracing; firearms, ammunition, and explosives importation; and arson and explosives incidents. Researchers should be aware that these electronic records are subject to access restrictions.
You can find a full listing of our ATF records in the National Archives Catalog.
The National Archives at College Park holds records of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and its predecessor the Bureau of Narcotics in Record Group 170: Records of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Our DEA and Bureau of Narcotics records include correspondence, subject files, reports, and project files. We do not hold DEA or Bureau of Narcotics investigative case files. Records relating to investigations, cases, and evidence are temporary records and are not transferred into the legal custody of the National Archives. You can find more information about the retention of DEA case files in the agency’s records schedules.
It is possible that some investigative case files, especially of more recent DEA investigations, remain in the DEA’s custody. You can submit a Freedom of Information Act request to the DEA in order to access these case files.
You can find a full listing of our DEA and Bureau of Narcotics records in the National Archives Catalog.
The National Archives holds records of the Bureau of Prisons in Record Group 129: Records of the Bureau of Prisons.
Many of these records are administrative files containing circulars, correspondence, reports, memoranda, and other records documenting the administration and operations of the Bureau of Prisons.
Please note that our Bureau of Prisons holdings only contain records of federal prisons. We do not hold any records of state prisons or county jails and do not have any inmate records from these institutions.
According to the records schedule for the Bureau of Prisons, the inmate files for individual federal inmates are not retained as permanent records. Therefore, with a few, limited exceptions, they are not in the holdings of the National Archives.
Some National Archives regional facilities hold inmate records for a limited number of federal prisons; however, many federal prisons and time periods are not covered.
Additionally, the National Archives at College Park holds records of high-profile federal inmates in the Notorious Offenders Files.
The Bureau of Prisons retains the records for inmates incarcerated after 1982. You can access information about federal inmates using the Bureau of Prisons’ Inmate Locator.
For more information, we suggest contacting the Bureau of Prisons. Their contact information is available at https://www.bop.gov/contact/.
The National Archives at College Park holds records relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection. This collections consists of over 5 million pages of assassination-related records consisting of textual records, photographs, motion pictures, sound recordings, and artifacts. Detailed finding aids and guides are available.
The National Archives holds records of the United States Attorneys in Record Group 118: Records of U.S. Attorneys. These consist of records created by the offices of United States Attorneys within the Department of Justice. Each U.S. Attorney is the chief federal law enforcement officer within their jurisdiction. They are responsible for prosecuting criminal cases in U.S. district courts, as well as prosecuting and defending civil cases in which the United States is a party.
Records of U.S. Attorneys at the National Archives include case files maintained by each U.S. Attorney’s office as well as correspondence, subject, and project files of the U.S. Attorneys.
The U.S. Attorney records are held by National Archives facilities around the country. The records held by each facility correspond with the federal court records that the facility holds. You can visit our court records website to see which facility holds the U.S. Attorney records for each federal judicial district.
The National Archives at College Park holds records of United States Marshals in Record Group 60: General Records of the Department of Justice. Correspondence between U.S. Marshals and the Department of Justice can be found in the following series:
- Letters Received, 1809 - 1870 (Entry A1 9)
- Source Chronological Files (Letters Received, 1871 - 1884) (Entry A1 56)
- Year Files, 1884 - 1903 (Entry A1 72)
- General and Miscellaneous Letter Books, 1818 - 1913 (Entries A1 10 and A1 76) [Fully digitized]
- Instruction Books, 1867 - 1904 (Entries A1 12 and A1 77) [Fully digitized]
For more information on U.S. Marshals records at the National Archives at College Park, please see our U.S. Marshals reference report.
Additional records of U.S. Marshals are held in Record Group 527: Records of the U.S. Marshals Service. These records include correspondence, Marshals’ oaths and bonds, and docket files. They are held by National Archives facilities around the country. The records at each facility correspond with the federal court records that the facility holds. You can visit our court records website to see which facility holds the U.S. Marshal records for each federal judicial district.