Guidance for On-Site Researchers in the Still Pictures Research Room
On-site researchers may examine the images and related finding aids in the Still Picture Research Room at College Park, Maryland. Researchers are encouraged to consult the Still Picture staff in advance about the availability of records, and about restrictions involving the use of NARA-provided copying equipment -- copy stands, and black-and-white and color electrostatic copiers -- and the use of researchers' own equipment.
Researchers should prepare in advance of their visit by viewing the National Archives Catalog.
Several significant series of photographs are available in digital form, both for viewing and download, in the National Archives Catalog. As the Still Picture Branch continues to digitize more of our analog holdings, these will also be made available in the Catalog. To view all of the digitized material within the Still Picture Branch, view this search in our online Catalog. After accessing the catalog search, Researchers can narrow their search criteria by selecting the fields in the left column on the page. For further information about searching Still Picture Branch holdings online, view our blog post titled “Searching the National Archives Catalog for Still Photographs.” Sample research topics and a listing of related records are available through the Still Picture Branch homepage. In addition, you may want to view the Catalog Search Tips page. On our website you can also find a listing of each Record Group and its location.
Contact the Still Picture Branch
Read more about Research at College Park
For directions, see the National Archives at College Park page.
Researchers are welcome to visit our research room on the 5th floor of the National Archives building in College Park, Maryland. Researchers at the National Archives are expected to follow the National Archives Research Room Rules. Due to the nature of Still Picture Branch holdings, researchers are expected to wear gloves when handling all records served in the research room. Gloves will be provided by National Archives staff.
Records requested from cold storage require an acclimation period. Still Picture Branch staff will be able to provide additional information related to specific requests. If you are interested in records that are known to require an acclimation period, as indicated in the description in the National Archives Catalog, you are encouraged to contact us at StillPix@nara.gov in advance of your visit.
Requests for individual negatives may be submitted up until 3:00 pm. Individual negatives will be available for access no later than the morning after the request is submitted. Requests for original glass negatives or transparencies must be approved by Still Picture Staff. Alternative copies may be provided in place of original records.
The Still Pictures Research Room at the National Archives at College Park (Archives II) does not provide first access to original negatives or transparencies after 4:00 PM. Records signed out prior to 4:00 PM may continue to be used until closure only with approval from Still Picture Branch staff.
If a Researcher is unable to visit, they may view our Off-Site Research Guidance for more information about researching remotely. For complex and larger research projects, Researchers may want to contact an Independent Researcher available for Hire.
Guidance on Equipment
Free-standing electrostatic copiers with a scanning function are available for Researcher use. Researchers must provide their own USB flash drive to utilize the scanning function. Alternatively, Researchers may also create black and white or color electrostatic copies. For the use of the free-standing electrostatic copiers, Researchers are charged the associated fee per copy. Researchers must have funds added to their Researcher Card either through the public access computer or designated kiosk onsite.
The Still Picture Branch also provides courtesy scanners for the reproduction of negatives. Researchers must provide their own laptops and download the necessary software to control the scanners. The use of the scanners is based on availability and limited to one hour per researcher, which will be enforced as necessary.
Researchers can use cameras with or without copy stands. Stands are available for use in the room with no appointment necessary, however a two hour limit will be enforced as necessary. The flash function of the camera must be disabled while copying and copy stand lights should only remain lit for the duration of the exposure. 19th century prints may only be photographed using the overhead lighting in the research room and transparent media may be copied using a light table.