Help the National Archives Recover Lost and Stolen Documents
We need your help to ensure that United States government documents (federal, congressional, and presidential records) that have been lost or stolen are returned safely and securely to the National Archives, where they will be preserved, described, and made available to all citizens and scholars. See what's missing.
At times U.S. government documents, which record our shared national experience from 1776 to the present, are removed from our buildings. When such records are stolen —sometimes for resale on web auction sites— our shared history is lost and our ability to maintain accountability in our government is lessened. Removing government documents is illegal theft, prosecutable by law. The consequences for perpetrators of such theft can be significant, as illustrated by this NARA Press Release from 2005.
What can you do? If you are a document collector, dealer, or a staff member at another archives, library, or museum, you can:
- Avoid buying, selling, or trading in lost or stolen historical U.S. government documents.
- Identify lost or stolen U.S. government documents and report them to the National Archives.
Why report lost documents? National Archives staff experts will work with you to determine whether historical documents belong to the United States, saving you time, the loss of your money, and potential lawsuits, and ensuring that we as American citizens continue to own the records of our own government.
What happens if you help the National Archives by reporting missing U.S. government documents? National Archives staff members will follow through to determine if the document in question is a lost or stolen historical U.S. government document. If it is found to be so, National Archives staff will request the return of the document. Contact the National Archives to report a lost or stolen historical U.S. government document. You may be contacted for additional information, and will receive a thank you from the National Archives for your assistance.