About the National Archives

National Archives History

Before the National Archives was created in 1934, individual government agencies were in charge of maintaining their own records. Some took great care of the materials, but many did not.

Congress established the National Archives in 1934 to centralize federal record keeping, with the Archivist of the United States as its chief administrator.

When Archives staff members first began searching for old government files to catalog and store in the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, they found many disorganized records that had been put away carelessly. In many cases, fire, insects, heat, water, and sunlight caused quite a bit of damage.

After an extensive survey, the Archivist of the United States reported in 1937 that nearly 1,360,000 cubic feet of records should be transferred to the National Archives. The volume of records continued to grow, as New Deal and then World War II records poured in.

From one building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, the National Archives has grown to 38 facilities nationwide, from Atlanta to Anchorage.

Now called the National Archives and Records Administration, the agency administers regional archives, Federal records centers, Presidential libraries, the Federal Register, and the National Historical and Publications Commmission. Learn more

You don't have to go to Washington, DC to visit the National Archives.

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The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272