Of all the records created in the course of business conducted by the United States federal government, only about 3 percent are so important for legal or historical reasons that they are kept forever. Those valuable records are preserved in the National Archives and are available to you, whether you want to see if they contain clues about your family’s history, need to prove a veteran’s military service, or are researching an historical topic that interests you.

The National Archives holds more than 10 billion pages of textual records; 12 million maps, charts, and architectural and engineering drawings; 25 million still photographs and graphics; 24 million aerial photographs; 300,000 reels of motion picture film; 400,000 video and sound recordings; and 133 terabytes of electronic data.

The Archives is not a public library so the materials are not for loan, but they are available to see in-person at our facilities and affiliated archives. Learn more about visting the National Archives nationwide.

There are Archives locations in states from coast-to-coast, including Federal Records Centers, the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, and Presidential libraries that house papers, records, and other historical materials relating to Presidents dating back to Herbert Hoover.

To make the most efficient use of your time, or to make sure that the records you want to see are at the facility you plan to visit, please write, telephone, or e-mail in advance. Find addresses, phone numbers, hours and directions here.