National Archives and Records Administration

  • National Archives
  • NARA


8601 Adelphi Road
College Park
MD 20740-6001
United States


+1 301-713-7250 ext.245 (work)




"Time and accident," Thomas Jefferson warned in 1791, "are committing daily havoc on the originals deposited in our public offices." But it was not until the early 1930s that historians and others concerned with the preservation of the nation’s records saw their hopes realized.

The task of designing an archives building was given to the distinguished architect John Russell Pope. He set out to create a structure that would be in harmony with other great Washington landmarks—the White House, Capitol, Treasury Building, and Lincoln Memorial—and at the same time express the significance, safety, and permanence of the records to be deposited inside.

Ground was broken in 1931; President Herbert Hoover laid the cornerstone in 1933; and the staff moved in to work in 1935. The building reached capacity in the late 1960s, and many records were moved to off-site storage and regional archives. After years of planning, in 1993 a new archives building was completed.

Geographical and Cultural Context

Archives locations in 15 states and the District of Columbia, from coast-to-coast, protect and provide public access to millions of records. In addition to assisting Federal agencies and the public with research and reference services, we deliver educational programs and public workshops to help Americans learn how to use archived records. Further, 16 Federal Records Centers (FRC) provide Federal agencies superior records storage, access, and disposition services through a national network of facilities.


The National Archives at College Park, MD, is a modern facility that has enabled NARA to consolidate its Washington-area records. The six-story building’s present records storage capacity is approximately 2 million cubic feet, and its research rooms can accommodate up to 390 researchers at a time.

Archival and Other Holdings

The National Archives was established in 1934 by President Franklin Roosevelt, but its major holdings date back to 1775. They capture the sweep of the past: slave ship manifests and the Emancipation Proclamation; captured German records and the Japanese surrender documents from World War II; journals of polar expeditions and photographs of Dust Bowl farmers; Indian treaties making transitory promises; and a richly bound document bearing the bold signature "Bonaparte"—the Louisiana Purchase Treaty that doubled the territory of the young republic.

NARA keeps only those Federal records that are judged to have continuing value—about 2 to 5 percent of those generated in any given year. By now, they add up to a formidable number, diverse in form as well as in content. There are approximately 13.28 billion pages of textual records; 10 million maps, charts, and architectural and engineering drawings; 44.4 million still photographs, digital images, filmstrips, and graphics; 40 million aerial photographs; 563,000 reels of motion picture film; 992,000 video and sound recordings; and 1,323 terabytes of electronic data. All of these materials are preserved because they are important to the workings of Government, have long-term research worth, or provide information of value to citizens.

In addition, NARA must also manage the rapidly growing number of electronic Government records. Now being developed, the Electronic Records Archives (ERA) is our strategic response to the challenge of preserving, managing, and providing access to electronic records. ERA will keep essential electronic Federal records retrievable, readable, and authentic for as long as they remain valuable—whether that is a few years or a few hundred years.

Finding Aids, Guides, and Publication

Find catalogs, databases and finding aids online here.

Online information to prepare a research visit are available online.

Books, research papers, catalogs, teaching aids, and more. Authored by archivists and other experts on the National Archives' staff, our publications provide information about the National Archives and its holdings, and also include works about professional archival practice, and scholarly works on people and events of historical interest. (A list of) all publications of NARA can be found here.

Opening Times

The research room at the National Archives in College Park, MD, is open by appointment only, Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Conditions of Access

Research rooms are open to the public by appointment only. Advance virtual consultations are required for research room visits to all research facilities outside the Washington, DC, area and highly encouraged for visits in the Washington, DC, area.

The National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, and Presidential Library museums are open to the public without limits on occupancy or days and hours of operation.


All National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) museums, research facilities, and Presidential Libraries are accessible (ADA compliant). If you have questions regarding a specific location’s accessibility, please contact the facility directly. All extra services can be found here.

Research Services

Researchers may contact Textual Consultation at for virtual consultation and Researcher Registration at for appointment questions.

Reproduction Services

Copies of select records can be ordered online.


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