National Archives at Seattle

Frequently Asked Questions about the National Archives at Seattle (Pacific Alaska Region)

1. Are you open to the public?

2. What is the National Archives? Who can benefit from visiting the National Archives?

3. What kind of records are available at the National Archives at Seattle?

4. I would like to view textual records from your holdings. How do I get started?

5. Where can I find more information on rules, regulations, and guidelines for researchers that are using textual records at the National Archives at Seattle?

6. I am interested in textual records in your holdings, but I am unable to visit your facility in person.  What are my options?

7. Can you give me more information on your microfilm collection?

8. Are there computers available to the public at your facility?

9. Where can I find more information on the services available in your Public Access Research Room?

10. I still have a question.  What should I do?


1. Are you open to the public?

Yes. Our Textual Research Room and our Public Access Research Room are both open from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM Monday through Friday.  We are closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays. 

If you have any questions regarding our hours of operation, you can contact us at (206) 336-5115. If you have any questions regarding closures in observance of Federal holidays, you can also check the agency’s Federal holidays page.

2. What is the National Archives? Who can benefit from visiting the National Archives?

The National Archives is the Federal agency charged with protecting the permanent original records of the United States Federal government.  Because of the size and reach of the Federal government, the National Archives has several facilities that serve specific regions throughout the country.  The National Archives at Seattle is the repository for records created by Federal agencies in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.  You can find more information on other National Archives facilities and the states they serve here

We assist historians, teachers, students, genealogists, journalists, government officials, the legal community, and anyone else who has any interest in, or need for, historical documents created by the United States Federal government. 

3. What kind of records are available at the National Archives at Seattle?

We maintain and provide access to more than 56,000 cubic feet of permanent records from Federal agencies located in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.  We also have a small number of records from a few agencies in Montana, including the Forest Service and the United States District Courts.  In the holdings, there are many types of textual records, including correspondence, reports, inventories, bound volumes, maps, drawings, blueprints, and photographs.

Our microfilm collection has over 1000 publications.  Each publication has copies of records created by Federal agencies located throughout the United States and abroad.

For more information on our textual holdings as well as our microfilm holdings, please visit our Genealogy and Historical Research page.

4. I would like to view textual records from your holdings. How do I get started?

Whether you are a first time visitor or an experienced researcher, we ask that you contact us via phone or email prior to your visit.  In order to best serve you and your research needs, your inquiry should include your topic of interest and the date(s) on which you plan to visit.  Providing us with this information ahead of time gives our staff the ability to identify the records from our holdings that best suit your needs.    

For more information on how to get started, please visit the agency’s Research Visit FAQs page.

5. Where can I find more information on rules, regulations, and guidelines for researchers that are using textual records at the National Archives at Seattle?

For more information, please visit Plan Your Research Visit. You can also email or call us if you would like more information.

6. I am interested in textual records in your holdings, but I am unable to visit your facility in person.  What are my options?

For patrons who cannot visit our facility, our staff can provide basic reference assistance via email or over the phone.  The best way to submit your inquiry is via email. Our reference staff can be reached at seattle.archives@nara.gov.  You can also call and speak with a member of our staff regarding your inquiry.  Our contact number is (206) 336-5115.

If you would like us to make copies or digital scans of records, our staff can do so for a fee, as long as the documents are easily identified and located.

It is important to note that while our reference staff will answer your questions and give direction for your own research, we are not able to do your research for you.  The agency maintains a listing of Independent Researchers Available for Hire if you would like to hire a researcher.

7. Can you give me more information on your microfilm collection?

Our microfilm collection and microfilm readers are found in our facility’s Public Access Research Room.  You do not need an appointment to use our microfilm.  You can find more information on the microfilm we have available in our microfilm holdings guide.  

Please note that we do not have all of the microfilm published by the National Archives. 

8. Are there computers available to the public at your facility?

Our Public Access Research Room has seven public access computers with internet access.  The National Archives provides free access to several genealogical resources, including Ancestry and Fold3.  You can find more information about the online resources you can access for free here. You do not need an appointment to use these computers.

9. Where can I find more information on the services available in your Public Access Research Room?

For more information, please visit Plan Your Research Visit. You can also email or call us if you would like more information.

10. I still have a question.  What should I do?

If you cannot find the information you’re looking for, please don’t hesitate to contact us via phone or email.  We are always happy to answer any question you may have about the National Archives and our holdings.

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