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FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Vice Presidential Records

What Vice Presidential records are held by the Presidential Materials Division?

The official records of the Albert Gore, Jr., Richard Cheney, and Joseph Biden vice presidency are in the custody of the Presidential Materials Division and housed at the National Archives Building in downtown Washington, D.C.

Vice Presidential records are documentary materials, or any reasonably segregable portion thereof, created and or received by the Vice President, his immediate staff, or others in the Office of the Vice President whose function it is to advise and assist the Vice President in the course of conducting activities which relate to or have an effect upon carrying out the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the Vice President. Records of the Office of the Vice President are treated in the same manner as Presidential records.

The congressional, campaign material, and other collections of personal papers of Albert Gore, Jr., Richard Cheney, and Joseph Biden are not in the legal custody of the Presidential Materials Division. These records are housed at other repositories, which are listed on the Resources page. 

Who may use the Vice Presidential records?

Processed and open Gore, Cheney, and Biden Vice Presidential records are available to everyone. Research inquiries can be made by mail, email, or telephone. Research also may be conducted on-site in the National Archives research room located in Washington, D.C. Researchers under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult researcher.

Do I need to make an appointment to conduct research?

Although an appointment is not required, researchers should contact the Presidential Materials Division in advance by email at presidential.materials@nara.gov or by telephone at (202) 357-5200. This will allow staff archivists ample time to locate and retrieve publicly available records related to the researcher’s topics of interest.

An archivist is available on-site to answer questions about vice presidential records from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Please note that access to these materials is not available during weekends and Federal holidays.

For directions and information about conducting research, please visit Information for Researchers at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C.

What are the research room procedures?

Review the rules for using the research room at the National Archives.

What records are open for research?

Most of the Presidential Materials Division’s holdings have been described in the National Archives Catalog, although many records are still unprocessed and unavailable for research.  For access to any unprocessed records, researchers will need to submit a FOIA request. Archivists must arrange, perform a line-by-line review, take any necessary preservation actions, and describe unprocessed records before they can be made available to researchers. View a list of records already open and available for research.

Will records from my FOIA request be redacted?

While NARA’s goal is to provide as much access to records as possible, certain records must be withheld for restrictions/exemptions outlined in the Presidential Reocrds Act (PRA), as amended, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) including  national security information, confidential advice, and personal privacy. Researchers are alerted to the exemption of records or portions of records from release by withdrawal markers which provide the reason(s) why the information has been withheld and/or redacted.

What records are closed for research?

Gore, Cheney, and Biden Vice Presidential records are reviewed under the terms of the Presidential Records Act (PRA) and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Materials that are restricted under the PRA remain closed for twelve years after the end of a presidential administration. However the PRA also states records are accessible through the FOIA beginning five years after the end of the Administration. Materials closed under FOIA exemptions remain closed for longer, variable periods. The appropriate restrictions are cited for all closed information so researchers are fully informed about all materials being withheld.

Can I appeal the closure of records restricted under the PRA and FOIA?

Yes. Original requesters may file an appeal challenging the status of records closed under the provisions of the PRA and/or FOIA. 

Can I request access to closed or unprocessed records?

Yes. Any individual may request access to unprocessed Vice Presidential records by submitting a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Biden Vice Presidential records are not subject to public access requests, including FOIA requests, until January 20, 2022. Under the provisions of section 2204 of the PRA, Vice Presidential records are not subject to public requests for a period of five years after NARA takes custody of the records. The National Archives took custody of the Biden Vice Presidential record collection on January 20, 2017.

How do I submit a FOIA request?

A FOIA request must be submitted in the form of a letter, fax, or email. You should describe the information you want in as much detail as possible. Once the request is received, the archival staff performs a search for responsive records. If a FOIA request is too vague or broad, it will not be considered a reasonable request and may be rejected unless you narrow or clarify the topic. Please contact the Presidential Materials Division if you have questions or concerns.

Download the FOIA request form.

Mailing Address:

ATTN: FOIA
Presidential Materials Division
National Archives and Records Administration
700 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Room G7
Washington, District of Columbia 20408-0001

Email: presidential.materials@nara.gov

Fax: (202) 357-5941

How long does a FOIA request take?

FOIA requests are processed in the order in which they are received. After a reasonable search has been conducted for responsive records, the request is placed in a queue based on the record format, and the complexity and estimated volume of records. Once the request has reached the front of the queue, staff archivists will review the records under the provisions of the PRA and FOIA.  The PRA, as amended, requires staff archivists to notify the representatives of the former President, former Vice President, and the incumbent President prior to the release of Vice Presidential records. The representatives have 60 working days, with the opportunity for one 30-working day extension, to review the material. Copies of these notification letters to the representatives are also made publicly available online. Once the review and notification process have been completed, staff archivists will inform the researcher of the availability of the requested records.

Can I request declassification of national security information?

Yes. All national security records responsive to a FOIA request will be reviewed. Any records restricted under the national security provisions of the PRA and FOIA are eligible for a declassification review.

Researchers may also file a Mandatory Declassification Review request for specific national security classified records from the Gore and Cheney vice presidential collections. Download the form for filing a Mandatory Review Request.

How does copyright law affect my research?

The United States Copyright Law (P.L. 94-553) provides statutory protection for the authors or producers of original works. The copyright law gives the author and his or her heirs the sole right of publication for the term of the copyright. The use of copyrighted material requires the permission of the holder of the copyright. Permission to reproduce copyrighted materials contained in the audiovisual or textual holdings of the Presidential Materials Division must be obtained from the copyright holder.

Under certain circumstances, the copyright law allows “fair use" of copyrighted materials without the permission of the copyright holder. Fair use encompasses scholarship and research, although the extent of such use is bounded by limitations.

Researchers with specific questions about the copyright law should obtain legal advice. Please note that federal employees are not authorized to provide guidance with regard to copyright laws.

The copyright law does not apply to material in the public domain or material produced by government employees in the course of their official duties.

Are research or travel grants available?

At this time, no research and travel grants underwritten by the Presidential Materials Division are available.

How do I cite materials from records?

Researchers should include the following information in the citation: the type and date of the record, the record title (if applicable), the sender and recipient, the complete folder title, the name of the series, and the name of the collection. The citations should conclude with reference to the Presidential Materials Division, National Archives and Records Administration.

How do I request a photograph of Vice President Gore, Cheney, or Biden?

Official White House photographs taken of Vice Presidents Gore, Cheney, and Biden are considered Vice Presidential records and the provisions of the PRA and FOIA governing access are applicable. Researchers should follow the procedures mentioned above to gain access to these records.

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