Research Our Records

Frequently Asked Questions Related to Research Room Reopenings

Revised November 19, 2021

  1. How do I know which research rooms are open?
    Researchers should check the specific facility page to determine if a facility is open for research.
  2. How can I request an appointment?
    Please email the relevant facility using the contact information on their facility page to request an appointment. Researchers should check the specific facility page for details and updates, as the situation can change quickly.
  3. Can I walk into a NARA research room without an appointment and be provided access to NARA’s holdings?
    No, NARA has implemented numerous protocols to help protect the safety and health of staff, researchers, and visitors. The researcher must be scheduled for a research visit in advance, and a virtual consultation is required prior to the onsite visit.
  4. How will my reference consultation be conducted?
    You will have a virtual reference consultation with a reference staff member prior to your appointment by phone, video, and/or email. The consultations will be used to provide researchers with information about NARA’s holdings and are generally scheduled for an hour or less. Please come prepared to discuss your research needs, in as much specificity as possible.
  5. How far in advance may I schedule a time to conduct onsite research?
    Once a research room reopens, reference staff will schedule appointments no further than two weeks in advance, in the order the requests are received.​
  6. What are the research room hours?
    Please refer to the NARA facility pages for information about hours at each location.
  7. What is the procedure for vaccination attestations and COVID-19 testing for researchers?
    ​In compliance with the Agency Model Safety Principles from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, all visitors to NARA public research rooms must present an attestation that they are fully vaccinated or, if they are not fully vaccinated or do not disclose their vaccination status, must present a negative COVID-19 test result in order to access NARA research rooms. 

    Fully vaccinated researchers must bring a completed vaccination attestation form to the research room on the day of their appointment. Researchers who are not fully vaccinated or do not report their vaccination status must bring a vaccination attestation form and a negative COVID-19 test result. Do not send forms or test results to NARA in advance of your appointment. 

    Researcher-provided COVID-19 test results must meet all of the following requirements for COVID-19 test results:

    1. Test type: Test results must indicate they are from a viral COVID-19 test. NARA does not accept the results of antibody tests.
    2. Issuing entity: Test results must include the name of the pharmacy, health care provider, laboratory, clinic, a government testing site, or similar facility that administered the test. The results of at-home or self-test kits – or test results that do not clearly identify the entity that performed the test – are not acceptable.
    3. Test date: The date that the specimen was collected must be no more than three whole calendar days before the date the researcher seeks entry to a NARA facility. Three whole calendar days may exceed 72 hours; for example, a test of a specimen collected on Monday morning is valid through Thursday evening. The age of a test is based on the specimen collection date, not the date the lab received the specimen or the date the result was reported.
    4. Identification: The test result must include the researcher’s name, and the researcher must provide a photo ID along with the COVID-19 test result. Staff must be able to readily determine that the researcher presenting the COVID-19 test result is the individual who took the test.

    In facilities with a security force, security officers will only verify that the researcher has completed an attestation form and has the required paperwork for entry into the facility. Security officers will not review attestation forms or verify COVID-19 test results. A NARA staff member will review vaccination attestations and, as applicable, negative COVID-19 test results before allowing researchers to enter a NARA research room for a scheduled appointment.

    Researchers will retain all documentation and will only present copies to NARA security officers or staff for visual inspection. NARA security officers and staff will not collect or record researcher attestation forms or COVID-19 test results.

    Researchers who are not fully vaccinated or who do not report their vaccination status will be removed from NARA facilities for up to seven calendar days and may be considered for banning if they refuse to provide a valid, negative COVID-19 test result when required or if they fail to follow NARA procedures for face coverings and physical distancing.

  1. Are paper finding aids, card indexes, and/or photostat albums available to review onsite?
    During the initial reopening, access to paper finding aids, card indexes, and photostat albums will be limited; however, NARA consultants can provide researchers with limited assistance identifying records for pulls during the advance consultation process. The availability of additional consultation onsite varies from facility to facility.
  2. Are microfilm readers, public access computers, copy machines, etc. available for use?
    The availability of these resources varies from facility to facility. Please email the facility you wish to visit using the contact information on their facility page for details.
  3. Are teams or groups of researchers allowed?
    No. Appointments are for one person only - no teams or groups of researchers will be allowed, per social distancing practices.
  4. How many days per week can I expect to be able to conduct research onsite?
    The availability of times to conduct research onsite will vary from facility to facility, depending on researcher demand, staffing, and research room hours.
  5. How will the records I’ve requested be pulled?
    Records will be pulled in advance and will be waiting at an assigned table.
  6. May I request additional records on the day of my research appointment?
    If time permits, additional records may be pulled on the day of the visit, but the availability of additional consultation varies from facility to facility.
  7. What measures are in place to ensure the safety of researchers and staff?
  • In compliance with the Agency Model Safety Principles from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, all visitors to NARA public research rooms must present an attestation that they are fully vaccinated or, if they are not fully vaccinated or do not disclose their vaccination status, must present a negative COVID-19 test result in order to access NARA research rooms (see question 7 for more information).
  • Appropriate face coverings (no valve/vent) must be worn at all times in all NARA facilities located in areas with substantial or high community transmission and all NARA facilities in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area (check the community transmission rate using the CDC COVID Data Tracker).
  • Individuals who are not fully vaccinated or do not disclose their vaccination status must wear appropriate face coverings at all times in NARA facilities, regardless of the community transmission rate.
  • The number of people in each research room will be limited.
  • Those who are sick or do not feel well must stay home.
  • NARA will implement safe social distancing through stanchions, physical barriers, floor markings, one-way paths, and directional guidance. Chairs will be removed and workspaces will be blocked to promote physical distancing between researchers.
  • NARA will follow CDC cleaning guidance. In addition, researchers will be able to contribute to sanitizing procedures by cleaning their assigned tables and equipment before and after their research.
  • Researchers should wash their hands thoroughly before entering and after exiting research rooms and regularly throughout their visit to the facility. Hand sanitizer will be readily available outside of the research rooms. Personal hand sanitizer will not be allowed in research rooms.
  • Contact tracing: If a researcher or NARA employee experiences COVID-19 symptoms while in a NARA research room or later reports symptoms, a diagnosis, or a close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, NARA will use contact information collected during the researcher registration process to notify other researchers of a potential exposure.
  1. Does NARA check temperatures of staff, contractors, or researchers?
    No. However, anyone accessing a research room must confirm that they are not ill by answering the four questions below prior to arrival at the facility:
    1. Have you experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 48 hours?
    2. Have you been diagnosed with COVID-19 (with or without symptoms), are you currently waiting on the results of a COVID-19 test due to an exposure or symptoms, or has a health care provider advised you to stay at home or otherwise self-isolate?
    3. Are you a person who is not fully vaccinated, who has been in close physical contact (within 6 feet for longer than 15 minutes) with a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
    4. Are you a person who is not fully vaccinated, who has traveled out of the State or region, or out of the country in the past 10 days (with no COVID test) or in the past 7 days (if you have been tested since returning)?

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, please do not come to a NARA facility. Please seek medical attention, and contact NARA to let them know that you answered "yes" to one or more of the questions.

  1. How will NARA conduct exit inspections in a way that promotes social distancing?
    Upon completion of research, NARA staff or security guards will inspect each researcher’s personal property for record material. This includes laptops, scanners, and other equipment where record material could be erroneously placed. To ensure staff and researchers maintain appropriate distance, this will be accomplished as follows:
  • Researchers will place equipment and materials to be inspected on their assigned table in plain view, for visual inspection. After placing the equipment on the table, they will step back to comply with social distancing requirements.
  • NARA staff or security guards will inspect the equipment/material, wearing disposable gloves, which should be immediately thrown away.
  • Upon completion of the inspection, the researcher will wipe down the table and their equipment using the 70% isopropyl alcohol provided and ensure that used paper towels, wipes, gloves, etc. are properly discarded.
  • Researchers may not be allowed to make photocopies, depending on the availability of copy machines at the specific facility, and will be encouraged to take notes using their phone, tablet, laptop, or other device. Additionally, researchers will be encouraged to limit the number of personal items they bring to a NARA facility.
  1. Will NARA provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for researchers?
    No. Researchers must supply their own PPE. Researchers are permitted to wear their own latex or vinyl gloves. Gloves will only be provided to researchers for handling photographs, negatives, and film, as currently required by NARA research room procedures.
  2. What happens if an increase in COVID-19 cases causes a facility to regress or close?
    If a facility regresses, and we are required to reduce the number of staff and researchers in a research room as a result, some appointments may be canceled. If this occurs, NARA staff will contact affected researchers to inform them that their appointment is canceled and to reschedule the appointment as soon as possible.

    If a facility closes due to an increase in COVID-19 cases, NARA staff will contact researchers with upcoming appointments to inform them their appointment is canceled. Once public health conditions improve and the research room can reopen, staff will contact affected researchers to reschedule the appointment.
  1. What contact tracing procedures are in place?
    If a researcher or NARA employee experiences COVID-19 symptoms while in a NARA research room or later reports symptoms, a diagnosis, or a close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, NARA will use contact information collected during the researcher’s visit to notify other researchers of a potential exposure. NARA may share your name and email address with a governmental health authority should that information be requested for a COVID-19-related reason. If you do not want your name or email address used for these purposes, please email us at r-contact-tracing@nara.gov. NARA will not use your email address for any other purpose without your express permission.
  2. Are lockers available for researchers?
    Lockers will be available to researchers if needed.
  3. Are the DC-area shuttle and cafeterias available?
    The shuttle that runs between the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, and the National Archives at College Park is available. The cafeterias and food services in both buildings will be available shortly and vending machines restocked, subject to vendors.
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