Research Our Records

Textual Archives Services

About Our Services

The Textual Archives Services of the National Archives provides access to the permanently valuable textual (paper) records of the Executive and Judicial Branches of the Federal Government housed in the National Archives Building in Washington DC (Archives I) and the National Archives at College Park, Maryland (Archives II). We make original records available to researchers in the research rooms, provide information about the records for users, and make reproductions of records for a fee.

About the Records

The textual holdings of both Archives I and Archives II encompass very broad spans of records of many government agencies, and researchers need to keep this in mind when requesting material from the National Archives.

The records housed in the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, include U.S. Supreme Court records; pre-WWII military including military service and pension files from the Revolution to the Spanish American War; New Deal agency records; naval and maritime including pre-World War II Navy and Coast Guard records; records relating to Native Americans and public lands, Immigration and Naturalization Service records; Census records; and a variety of smaller groups of records.

The records in the National Archives at College Park include those of the Departments of State, Justice, Treasury, Interior, Labor, Commerce, Energy, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Health and Human Services, and Transportation. Other records at Archives II include post-1940 records of military agencies, and records of various independent agencies and the Executive Office of the President, including the National Security Council. A special access staff at Archives II provides reference service on records of the Kennedy assassination, Watergate Special Prosecution Force, and Independent Counsels.

Research visits in the Washington, DC area.

  • National Archives Building in Washington, DC
  • National Archives at College Park


Order copies of the most frequently requested records online through Request & Order Reproductions

The National Archives and Records Administration provides copies of records for a fee.

What You Need to Tell Us When Ordering Copies

With only a few exceptions, records are not online. Although we try to provide as much help as we can through the mail, in most cases there is no substitute old-fashioned in-person research. This remains true despite advances in technology.

Requests for specific documents / files / folders:

To order copies of documents identified through on-site research, through the National Archives Catalog searches, or through use of other descriptive resources, please indicate as much of the following information as possible: National Archives Identifier (in the case of online catalog descriptions), Record Group Number, Creating Organization, Series Title, Box Number (if any), Folder Title (if any), Document Title (if any), and any other information that identifies dates, a government office, a subseries title, or a writer or contributor. In the case of National Archives Catalog references, you are most likely to obtain the best search results if you can cut, paste, and/or print all of the information provided on the catalog descriptive page for the document and/or series.

For requests based upon series descriptions only:

The results of your search might only provide a general series description without specific box, folder, or document lists. It is still possible to request information from the files by providing -- at the very least -- the following information: Record Group Number, Series Title, and the specific information described in the series arrangement statement. The arrangement statement is often instrumental in identifying records within a series. Providing specific information regarding your research and the arrangement statement will improve our ability to identify appropriate materials.

Upon receipt of your request, if the information that you provide remains inadequate to conduct a search, we will contact you with information about how to identify materials and order copies.

Contact Us for More Information

The National Archives provides information and assistance in the use of the textual records and the reproduction of files but is not staffed to do extensive research for customers.

For further information about textual records, please Contact Us.