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National Archives Reference Services-Historical Research

Program Descriptions

Program Number



National Archives Reference Services-Historical Research


Federal Agency




Public Law 90-621, 82 Stat.1238; National Archives and Records Administration Act of 1984, Public Law 98-497, 98 Stat. 2280.






Objectives: To provide professional reference service to members of the general public and employees of the Federal government who are conducting research in Federal records or in historical materials in Presidential Libraries; provide the general public with research assistance in gaining access to and use of the records of the Federal government; provide advice and information to the public through conferences, workshops and other outreach activities on the availability and use of Federal records in the NARA's custody and, preparing for publication and dissemination articles of a scholarly nature for historical journals and technical publications.


Types of Assistance

Use of Property, Facilities, and Equipment; Advisory Services and Counseling; Dissemination of Technical Information.


Uses and Use Restrictions

The assistance provided by NARA is designed to assist the public in obtaining access to information contained in records which are in the custody of the National Archives. Restrictions on the use of accessioned records in the National Archives of the United States are divided into two categories: general restrictions and specific restrictions. General restrictions apply to all records regardless of origin and apply to types of information or classes of records exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, for example, national security information. Specific restrictions are specified by the transferring agency or donor and apply only to records in a particular record group or a portion of that record group. All restrictions are included in 36 CFR 1256. Access to records in the records center operations within NARA's regional records services facilities; in the National Personnel Records Center; and in the Washington National Records Center is controlled by the agency which created the records.


Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Anyone (general public).

Beneficiary Eligibility

Anyone (general public).


Photographic identification.


Application and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

None. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.

Application Procedure

To see records in person, NARA Form 14003, Researcher Application, is required. To obtain information or copies by mail, contact the depository; if a form is required, applicant will be notified. The use of publications, such as microfilm publications of the U.S. Census, does not require the completion of a Researcher Application. Microfilm publications are available in regional facilities in self-service reference rooms. Request for civilian and military personnel records should be addressed to the National Personnel Records Center. Requests for court records should be addressed to the appropriate regional records services facility. Requests for records held in records center operations of the NARA regional records services facility and in the Washington National Records Center should be addressed directly to the agency having legal custody.

Award Procedure

Not applicable.



Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Not applicable.


Not applicable.



Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Not applicable.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Not applicable.


Post Assistance Requirements


Not applicable.


Not applicable.


Not applicable.


Financial Information

Account Identification



(Salaries and expenses) FY 07 $47,780,197; (Records Services-Washington, DC, $25,940,000; Presidential Libraries, $2,949,857; Regional Records Services, $18,890,340); FY 08 est $52,185,895; (Records Services-Washington, DC, $28,402,000; Presidential Libraries, $3,645,000; Regional Records Services, $20,138,895); and FY 09 est $53,906,365,; (Records Services-Washington, DC, $28,524,000; Presidential Libraries, $3,751,000; Regional Records Services, $21,631,365).

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

Not applicable.


Program Accomplishments

During fiscal year 2007, the National Archives provided a total of 1,327,131 reference responses from the following sources: Records Services-Washington, DC, provided 86,056; Regional Records Services provided 1,203,109; and Presidential Libraries provided 37,966. National Archives provided 519,625 reference items to researchers for fiscal year 2007: Records Services-Washington, DC, provided 400,106; Regional Records Services provided 48,915; and Presidential Libraries provided 70,604. It is estimated that for each of the fiscal years 2008 and 2009, the National Archives will provide 1,338,056 reference responses (Records Services-Washington, DC, 79,958; Regional Records Services 1,220,894; and Presidential Libraries 37,204); and 508,456 items to researchers (Records Services-Washington, DC, 372,156; Regional Records Services 66,670; and Presidential Libraries 69,630).


Regulations, Guidelines and Literature

36 CFR Chapter XII, Subchapter C. Over 200 printed publications are available as listed in General Information Leaflet No. 3, "Select List of Publications of the National Archives and Records Administration," available without charge from the Publication Services (NEPS), National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC 20408.


Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

See Appendix IV of the Catalog for a list of addresses.

Headquarters Office

Office of Records Services-Washington, DC., National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD 20740-6001. Telephone: (301) 837-3110. Regional records services facilities: Office of Regional Records Services, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD 20740-6001. Telephone: (301) 837-1982. Office of Presidential Libraries, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD 20740-6001. Telephone: (301) 837-3250.

Web Site Address


Related Programs

42.006, Library of Congress_Library Services;
42.007, Reference Services in Science, Technology and Business;
89.003, National Historical Publications And Records Grants


Examples of Funded Projects

Not applicable.


Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Not applicable.


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