Washington, DC Area

Notices for Researchers

  • In Washington, DC, and in College Park, MD, there will be a delayed opening on Thursday, September 6, 2012. Research rooms will open at 1 p.m.

  • Pilot Project starting June 6, 2011: Blue Paper to be used for self-service copies at NARA in the Washington, DC Area
    Learn more

  • Beginning December 27, 2010 all researchers will be required to use locking bags for removing reproductions, personal notes, and other papers from the Research Center in Washington, DC and in College Park, MD.
    Learn more

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Information for Researchers at the National Archives at College Park, MD

Research at the National Archives in College Park

Textual Records:

  • Civilian Records: We hold records that originated in civilian agencies of the Executive branch of government. Most of these records were created after 1900 and include documents created or accumulated by bureaus within the departments of State, Justice, Treasury, Interior, Labor, Commerce, Energy, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Health and Human Services, and Transportation.

  • Modern Military Records: Records that originated in military agencies of the Executive branch of government. Most of these records were created after 1900 and include documents created or accumulated by the various components of the Department of Defense and its predecessor, the War Department.

Contact the Textual Records unit at: The National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001, by telephone at 301-837-3510, or via Contact Us.

  • The FOIA and Special Access unit of the Textual Archives Services Division provides reference services on those federal records in the National Archives at College Park that require administration of special access provisions. Examples of these types of records include those accumulated as part of the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection and those accumulated by Independent Counsels. Contact the unit at: The National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001, by telephone at 301-837-3190, or via specialaccess_foia@nara.gov.

  • The Nixon Library staff in College Park, Maryland, provides reference services on the accessible textual (paper) materials from the presidency of Richard M. Nixon. Contact the unit at: The National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001, by telephone at 301-837-3290, or via nixon@nara.gov

See also Textual Records Services in the Washington, DC Area


The holdings of the Cartographic and Architectural Section in College Park, Maryland, include over 15 million maps, charts, aerial photographs, architectural drawings, patents, and ships plans, constituting one of the world's largest accumulations of such documents. These holdings are arranged in 190 record groups, which reflect the origins of the records in specific federal departments and agencies. On-site researchers may examine these records and finding aids in the Cartographic and Architectural Research Room.

  • Architectural and engineering drawings relate almost exclusively to structures and equipment built by or for the Federal Government.
  • Holdings are arranged by the Federal offices that created or accumulated the records.
  • Maps that predate the Federal Government and 19th century maps of areas outside the United States are rare among the unit's holdings.

Online finding aids and informational materials about Cartographic and Architectural records holdings at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, include:


National Archives holdings include records on microfilm reels, microfiche, and a number of other micrographic formats. These records were either transferred to NARA by the originating agency in that form or converted by NARA for the convenience of preservation and reference of the original record. The latter are released by NARA as part of its Microfilm Publication Program.

On-site researchers may examine records on microfilm, and other micrographic formats, and finding aids in the Microfilm Reading Room at the National Archives at College Park.

Electronic Records:

The Electronic and Special Media Records are located at the National Archives in College Park. We accession, preserve, and provide access to electronic records transferred to NARA from agencies in the executive, legislative and judicial branches.

Motion Picture Films and Sound and Video Recordings

The Motion Picture, Sound, and Video unit, Special Media Archives Services Division, located at the National Archives at College Park, makes available on-line some information about NARA's motion picture, sound, and video records holdings. Online finding aids to holdings and informational resources include:

Photographs and Graphic Works

The Still Pictures unit in College Park, Maryland, has an estimated 8 million photographs and graphic images, ranging in date from the 1850s to the present. There are many thousands of additional photographs interfiled with textual records. The Cartographic and Architectural unit in College Park, Maryland, has approximately 9 million aerial photographs in its collection.

The Still Picture unit makes available online some information about NARA's photographic and graphic works holdings. Online finding aids to holdings and informational resources include:

Pull times:

Records are retrieved Monday through Friday for use in the research rooms at:

  • 10:00 a.m.
  • 11:00 a.m.,
  • 1:30 p.m.,
  • 2:30 p.m.

On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday there is an additional pull at 3:30 p.m. There are no pulls on Saturday.

The Nixon tapes are available, self-service, during regular Research Room hours.
Most of the microfilm collection is stored in research rooms for self-service retrieval. Reference copies of some videos, still pictures, and maps are housed in specialized research rooms for self-service use.

Researchers must be at least age 14.

Phone Numbers (area code 301)

  • General reference information: 837-2000
  • Nixon Library (College Park) reference: 837-3290
  • Cartographic reference: 837-3200
  • Military records textual reference: 837-3510
  • Civilian records textual reference: 837-3510
  • Motion Picture, Sound, & Video reference: 837-0526
  • Electronic Records reference: 837-0470
  • JFK Assassination Records reference: 837-3190
  • Still Picture reference: 837-0561

Orientation and Research Room Procedures

New researchers will view a short PowerPoint orientation emphasizing the safe handling of records and explaining the most basic research procedures, responsibilities, and rules. New researchers should plan for a total of 15-20 minutes to complete the registration process.

Research Rooms

The Research Center contains these rooms:

Summary of Research Room Rules

  • Paper and pencils are provided to researchers. Pens and notebooks are not allowed.

  • Researchers may bring approved loose paper research notes, hand-held wallets, and coin purses into research rooms, but those items are subject to inspection when researchers enter or leave the research complex.

  • Researchers may not bring briefcases, backpacks, purses, boxes, or other large containers into the research rooms.

  • Lockers are available. A quarter is required, but is refunded when the locker key is returned. The lockers are emptied nightly.

Please see the following additional information:


Electronic surveillance is in use.

Self-Service Copying

Paper to paper copies of most documents can be made on self-service copiers at a cost of 25¢ per page. Microfilm to paper copies are 50¢ per image. Before copying any textual records researchers must show a staff member the original material they wish to duplicate. Read more about copying...

A debit card system is used to pay for self-service copies. You may use your research card as a debit card. Machines to add money are located in the research rooms. These machines accept bills and credit cards. Do not bring coins. Unused money on your card cannot be refunded. When the cashier is closed (after 4:30 Mon-Fri and all day Sat), it is not possible to get change in the building.

Researchers may copy certain audiovisual records using their own equipment or may rent the use of a dubbing station available in the research room. For details, call the general reference number to obtain the Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Research Room orientation handout. Some audiovisual records may not be copied such as the Nixon White House tapes and copyrighted newsreels.

Special Equipment

Researchers may use their own personal computers (laptops, notebooks, etc.), approved scanners, tape recorders, tape decks, cameras (we provide copy stands for small format cameras only), and other equipment in the Research Center, but cases, bags, and boxes must remain in lockers located in the basement. Equipment carts are available in Room 1000. Personal copiers and auto-feed or hand-held scanners are not permitted.

Contact Information

See also The National Archives in the Nation's Capital, Information for Researchers, General Information Leaflet 71.

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