Research Our Records

Electronic Records

Researchers may order copies of electronic files from the holdings of the Electronic Records Division of the National Archives. Payment must be made in advance. In addition, before orders may be processed, researchers will need to confirm the technical specifications of the files. Researchers should contact the Electronic Records reference staff in writing to start the order process.

Recently, the Electronic Records Division has begun making selected electronic files and documentation available through the National Archives Catalog. For more details, please review the frequently asked questions frequently asked questions (FAQs). In addition, the Electronic Records Division makes available a selected number of data files searchable through Access to Archival Databases (AAD) resource. Users can also download selections of records from AAD. There is no charge for accessing records through these resources.

Reproduction orders will be placed on removable media (CD or DVD) and shipped to researchers via US postal mail. In 2016, the National Archives instituted an “e-delivery” system, wherein data files and associated documentation may be delivered electronically via a secure link. Researchers can elect to receive files on media or via “e-delivery.”

Technical Specifications for Copies of Electronic Files

The Electronic Records Division has custody of electronic files in a variety of formats and encoding schemas. Below are some of the common formats and output options. Staff will explain specific formats and outputs or other special considerations as part of the ordering process. Please note most data files contain raw data, without a header row and field-delimiters. Documentation is needed to use the raw data.

Fixed-length record data files Unless specifically requested otherwise by the researcher or if the files cannot be auto-converted to ASCII, files will be converted to or remain in ASCII with the addition of record-delimiters (a carriage return and line feed at the end of each record)
Variable-length record data files or field-delimited data files EXACT copies of the file(s) as preserved
Data files in non-contemporary encoding or format (e.g., EBCDIC packed decimal, binary, column binary) EXACT copies of the file(s) as preserved
Portable Document Format (PDF) files EXACT copies of the file(s) as preserved
HTML files EXACT copies of the file(s) as preserved
ASCII Text EXACT copies of the file(s) as preserved

Fees for Copies of Electronic Files
(as of October 1, 2012)

Fees for reproduction services are set solely to recover costs involved in preparing and processing records for distribution.

1 Electronic Records File and no documentation $20.00 minimum reproduction fee (see Limitations and Exceptions below)
1 to 10 Electronic Records Files $17.00 per file
11 or more Electronic Records Files $14.00 per file

Copies of Documentation for Electronic Data Files

Documentation files that support the electronic files are available from the Electronic Records Division in different ways.

  • Paper Documentation
    • Paper documentation (paper photocopies or digitized) may be ordered from the Electronic Records Division for $0.80 a page.
    • Visitors to the National Archives at College Park may photocopy paper documentation for $0.25 a page or make digital copies or photographs with their own equipment at no charge
  • Scanned Technical Documentation
    • Documentation already scanned and packaged into specific scanned documentation files may be ordered at the per file cost above.
  • Electronic Documentation Files
    • Electronic Documentation files that have been preserved electronically may be reproduced at the cost for electronic records files above.
  • Documentation available on AAD or though the National Archives Catalog
    • Selected documentation that supports files available through AAD or the National Archives Catalog may be downloaded at no charge through those resources.

Limitations and Exceptions

Extracts of data files are not available, nor are printouts of full data files. In those cases where a data file may contain restricted information, the unit may create a “public use” version of the data file when technically and practically feasible, which contains non-releasable records and/or non-releasable data elements.

Reproduction orders that total less than $20.00 will be charged the minimum reproduction fee of $20.00.

Ordering Instructions

All requests for reproduction orders must be submitted in writing and identify the technical specifications of the output of the files requested. Orders shall be paid in U.S. dollars. Payment is made through the National Archives Trust Fund (NATF). Checks should be payable to the National Archives Trust Fund. Credit card payment is also available. Federal, State, and Local Government agencies along with domestic colleges, universities, and libraries, may submit purchase orders for their reproduction orders.

Please see the National Archives Privacy Statement

For additional information and/or to place an order, contact:

Electronic Records Reference Branch
National Archives at College Park
Room 5320
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
(301) 837-0470
Fax: 301-837-3574

Revised April 2023

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