The National Archives safeguards billions of documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the U.S. government. In addition to these Federal records, the National Archives holds collections of donated historical materials, many of which pertain to and illustrate historical activities of the United States, or document a significant program or activity of the U.S. government.

Robert Peary standing outside of a house wearing fur clothing. Three dogs on leashes stand beside him
Robert Peary in Furs with Dogs, 1909. National Archives Identifier 12013129. From the Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary Papers Collection.

To help you navigate the universe of records held at the National Archives, we are excited to introduce the third in a series of online finding aid tools: the Donated Collection Explorer!

Screenshot of the homepage of the Donated Collections Explorer
This next-generation finding aid includes 826 Collections and provides access to over 829,000 digital pages available in the National Archives Catalog. Within the Donated Collection Explorer, you will find donated materials that document significant programs or activities of the U.S. government, materials with historical or intrinsic value, donations from notable military figures, records from polar exploration, wars, and more.
Typewritten document dictated by General George S. Patton, Jr.
Statement Dictated by General George S. Patton, Jr., 6/11/1945, National Archives Identifier 128215416. From the George S. Patton, Jr. Papers Collection.

As with our other next-generation finding aids, this data visualization allows you to browse NARA’s holdings by donated collection. Click on any collection name to see an overview of the scans available online, and find links to records in the Catalog, organized by format.

Each Donated Collection page has a progress bar that provides an estimate of the percentage of textual pages that are currently available online.

Screenshot of the Harmon Foundation Collection page
Harmon Foundation Collection
Screenshot of the John A. Pope papers collection
John A. Pope Papers Collection
Screenshot of the Ford Motor Company collection
Ford Motor Company Collection

Give our Donated Collection Explorer a try! We’d love to hear your input on how this might be beneficial to you in your research, and your ideas about how we could further refine our data visualizations for future projects. Also, the data powering our Explorers will be updated regularly, so check back to see what we have added and what changes have been made.

Lee W. Court painting Antarctica oil
Antarctica Oil #682 Bellinghausen/ King George Island/ South Shetland Islands, ca. 1969. National Archives Identifier 5634739. From the Lee W. Court Paintings Collection

Interested in our other next-generation finding aids? Check out these tools to help you with your research online:

  • Record Group Explorer: includes all of NARA’s Record Groups (over 600) and provides access to over 140 million of our digital pages.
  • Presidential Library Explorer includes 14 Presidential Libraries and provides access to over 1.6 million digital pages.
Album with yellowed paper showing a print painting of Marie Antoinette
Vigée-Lebrun: "Bildnis der Koenigin Marie-Antoinette." National Archives Identifier 12015367. From the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation Art Collection
Transcribe Records as a Citizen Archivist

Donated Collection Explorer mission

Join us in celebrating the launch of the Donated Collection Explorer by transcribing a variety of records that can be viewed in the Explorer.

Get started transcribing!

New to the Citizen Archivist program? Learn how to register and get started.

Illustrated map of the Antarctic Region
Illustrated Map of Antarctic Region, ca. 1650. National Archives Identifier 70187163. From the Albert Lincoln Washburn Papers Collection
Start your research on History Hub
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Have a question? Find your answer on History Hub!

For those looking to conduct research or learn more, we encourage you to browse recent posts and questions on History Hub:

Seeking Red Cross records about my mother

Seeking Robert McNamara Documents

Seeking records & photos of Alaskan Malamutes in Army

See our recent newsletter for more details, information, and instructions about using History Hub for your research.

Make History Hub your first stop! You can ask—or answer—questions on History Hub, or see if your question has already been answered.

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