Plan Your Research Visit
Do you need to visit us in person?
- We perform limited research for the public. Please read more about our Services for Off-site Researchers and our Research Support Services.
- This reference paper on Getting Started provides information on the process for requesting records for use in the Research Room and the steps necessary to locate the information needed to prepare a pull slip
- If you can identify the records precisely enough to order copies, you may order copies of some record types online, or you may order copies through us or approved vendors.
- If you require extensive research assistance, we offer you the following lists of researchers who are available for hire.
(Note: Researchers for hire are not National Archives employees. Learn more...)
Contact us before you visit - write or call ahead
- Find addresses, phone numbers, hours and directions to our locations nationwide.
Our research rooms are open to the public. Each of our locations holds different groups of records. To make the most efficient use of your time, please write, telephone, or e-mail us in advance to make sure that the documents or the microfilm you want to see are at the location you plan to visit.
You should first try to determine where the records are by:
- For us to be able to answer your questions properly, you should be able to tell us:
- the Federal and/or presidential connection to your topic;
- what agencies, offices, or individuals were involved and what time period you are interested in;
- and what kinds of records (textual, maps, photographs, electronic, etc.) you are looking for.
- If you expect to use records that may be security classified,
advance notice is necessary so that the classification status of the records can be determined using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
- When sending a letter or e-mail,
include your postal address and telephone number so that we can contact you in case more information is needed. Please allow time for us to respond.
- Learn more about how to make your research visit to NARA more successful
When You Arrive
- Make your initial visit to any National Archives location:
- during weekday business hours
- as early in the day as possible
- Archivists whose help is needed to begin research usually are not available during evenings or weekends. A late afternoon visit may not allow enough time for records to be identified and retrieved from the stack areas for use on that day.
- When you come to one of our locations to look at records, you will usually be issued a researcher identification card.
- During your research visit, keep good notes as to records consulted so that you can differentiate between multiple groups of records searched, and your steps can be retraced if necessary.
- Anyone can use the National Archives. You do not need to be an American citizen or to present credentials or a letter of recommendation. Read about Regulations for using the National Archives.
- You need to be 14 years old to do research at the National Archives, unless you receive permission from the research room supervisor and are accompanied by a parent or guardian.
- Read about Security Procedures at our facilities.
- New researchers to the National Archives will view an online orientation presentation before receiving a researcher card.
- Please visit the page for the specific location you are visiting (or intend on visiting) for more specific information regarding onsite access.
What questions do people have about In Person Research?
- How far in advance does one have to schedule a research visit to Archives 1?
- How to verify WW2 service records exist before visiting St Louis archives
- Looking for advice on researching my grandfather's WWII military service
- How do I schedule a visit to the National Archives?
- Question about doing research at the National Archives in College Park