Archival Research Catalog (ARC)

Dorothy E. Davis, et. al vs. County School Board of Prince Edward County, Virginia, 1951? (ARC ID 279100)

Additional Resources

ARC Guide for Educators and Students

The guide introduces educators and students to the National Archives' Archival Research Catalog (ARC). Searching in ARC to learn more about National Archives' historical documents could enrich a classroom activity, a homework assignment, or a research project.

Part 1: ARC in the Classroom

ARC: A Work in Progress

What's online? Currently over 63% of our records are described in ARC. Every week new descriptions are placed in ARC. If you do not find the records you are seeking, please contact the NARA office that holds those records.

Read more about: Why aren't all Federal Archived Records Online?

Bring variety to your classroom by teaching with primary documents — the raw materials of history. Your students can learn about history firsthand using the primary sources held by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). NARA has billions of pieces of paper and millions of photographs that document the working of the Federal Government and U.S. history.

ARC is NARA's online door to the Archives. Educators and students can use ARC to locate records found in our various facilities nationwide and view digital images of some of these records. ARC contains descriptions of records created by Federal agencies, Congress, and Presidential administrations as well as records created by people and sent to the government.

Handouts for Classroom Use

For Educators For Students

ARC and NARA's Teaching With Documents Lesson Plans

You can search in ARC for copies of documents used in NARA's Teaching With Documents lesson plans. Lesson plans are available on various topics, arranged by period in U.S. history. Please note that not all documents used in the lesson plans have been entered into ARC. "Teaching With Documents" is just one part of NARA's online resources for Educators and Students.

Did you know?

You can type just an ARC ID number into the ARC keywords box to retrieve that one ARC description. For example, ARC ID: 524642 (Camp scene. Showing winter huts and corduroy roads, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865) is featured in Teaching With Documents: The Civil War as Photographed by Mathew Brady.

  • Continue Your Research in ARC: The records you find in the Teaching With Documents lesson plans can be a starting point for both educators and students. Students can search in ARC to find historical records for a special research paper or a National History Day project. See Primary Sources for Educators and Students for selected documents and photographs grouped by National History Standard Era.
  • Research a Specific Topic: Example: Civil Rights: You plan to use the Teaching With Documents lesson plan Court Documents Related to Martin Luther King, Jr., and Memphis Sanitation Workers in your classroom. Introduce your students to ARC with the following tasks. (Review the Search Tips in Part 2 of this guide on ARC's search options.)
    1. Show the class how to look up the lesson plan's first document in ARC by typing the ARC ID number 279325 into the keywords box.
    2. Search broadly in ARC with the keywords "Civil Rights" and browse through the results. (Set your search hit limit to 2,000.)
    3. Search more narrowly in ARC with the keywords "Civil Rights Act" and browse.
    4. Refine your search by again selecting the Digital Copies search and typing the keywords "Civil Rights Act" to retrieve only ARC descriptions that have digital images attached. Selected pages from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are available as digital images attached to ARC ID 299891.

Anatomy of an ARC Series Description

Diagram of an ARC series description with the main parts labeled.

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