Online Research Tools and Aids
To find copies of Federal records on our web site and/or information about the records and their historical context, you should look in multiple places. We recommend you start with the following, which includes databases, online guides, and publications.
Our National Archives Catalog is the online portal to our records and information about our records. It provides access to data, digitized records, selected series from Access to Archival Databases (AAD), over one million electronic records from the Electronic Records Archives (ERA), all of the web pages from Archives.gov, and all of the web pages from the Presidential Libraries.
Go to the National Archives Catalog
This is a searchable database of more than 3,400 numbered microfilm. The described microfilm include those created by or purchased by NARA for researcher use. Determine which rolls of microfilm may be the most relevant for your research at NARA. You can search for microfilm by keyword, microfilm number, Record Group number, and/or location of our nationwide research facilities. Researchers at our research facilities may use this material for free.
Go to the Microfilm Catalog
AAD is a search engine into some of NARA's holdings of electronic records. There are databases and indexes from more than 30 archival series, including over 350 data files totaling well over 50 million unique records; this number will continue to grow. Search by person, geographic areas, organizations, or dates.
Go to AAD
ALIC, part of the National Archives, provides sources for research about American history and government, archival administration, information management, and government documents to archives and records management professionals, the general public, and National Archives staff. Search their online catalog for holdings of the Archives libraries in Washington, DC and College Park, MD.
Go to ALIC
Additionally, ALIC's Reference at Your Desk feature provides quick access to online resources on many diverse subjects.
Search NARA's holdings of federal records at a very high level, to identify which record groups may have material relevant to your research topics. This includes records that originated in the executive, judicial, and legislative branches.
Go to the Guide to Federal Records
Filing manuals outline the filing classification systems used by staff in the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and various departments and agencies of the federal government.
Regional Archives Holdings Guides and Resources
For links to holdings guides, articles, lists, indexes to files, and other finding aids prepared by the Regions to assist researchers, see our Regional Archives Online Finding Aids page and visit our National Archives locations section.
Published research guides, articles, and papers
These include guides, articles, reference papers, inventories, and more, all designed to help prepare you for your research at NARA.
View our latest Accessions and Openings for all our locations.
Our digitization partners have digitized selected NARA microfilm publications and original records and made them available on their web sites. Familysearch.org is a free site. Ancestry.com and Fold3.com are both subscription services that allow free searches of some or all index terms for each title. Complete access to subscription sites Ancestry.com and Fold3.com is available free of charge in all NARA Research Rooms, including those in our regional archives and Presidential libraries.
For many topics, we have included related articles, finding aids, and search tips. Links to online information about selected topics in National Archives records.
Look for the Federal Government organization that created the records you are interested in.
Search by Media Type or Format
Search for records based on media-type or format of the records (such as paper documents, photographs, motion picture film or video, audio recordings, maps and drawings, aerial film, microfilm, databases and electronic records)
If you need to see records that are not available on our web site or other web sites, you may need to contact us, visit us, or hire an independent researcher to continue your research.
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