The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is an independent agency of the United States government charged with preserving and documenting government and historical records and with increasing public access to those documents, which comprise the National Archives. NARA is officially responsible for maintaining and publishing the legally authentic and authoritative copies of acts of Congress, presidential proclamations and executive orders, and federal regulations.
The chief administrator of NARA is the Archivist of the United States, who not only maintains the official documentation of the passage of amendments to the U.S. Constitution by state legislatures, but has the authority to declare when the constitutional threshold for passage has been reached, and therefore when an act has become an amendment.
Each year, our staff serves our visitors billions of letters, photographs, video and audio recordings, drawings, maps, treaties, posters, and other items that we have preserved. The materials are not for loan to the public, as a library loans material; they are protected, but are available for you to use in-person at our facilities and affiliated archives.
What is available from the National Archives?
You can visit National Archives locations nationwide to:
Who Uses the National Archives and Why?
Most people who come to the National Archives to conduct research are genealogists or family historians. They are trying to find information about their ancestors in order to fill in their family tree or write a family history. They use census records to learn people's names, ages, and who lived where, when. They check passenger arrival lists from boats that originated in Europe to prove when an immigrant landed in the United States. Genealogists also often look at military service records, as well as land, naturalization, and passport records, and more.
In addition to conducting this research at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, the Regional Archives also have most of the main genealogical-related records on microfilm as well.
The National Archives website offers little genealogical content, but it has information on how to effectively use the physical holdings.
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