One of the best parts of the holiday season is the opportunity to say thank you to our Catalog community and Citizen Archivists. We are grateful for your efforts to make the records of the National Archives more accessible to everyone.

As we wrap up another year of online access, we’re sharing some highlights from the past year. We look forward to sharing more of our holdings and history with you in 2022.

Together we explored Catalog records:
Map of St. Raphael, Italy
Maps in the Catalog
We charted a course through the cartographic holdings at the National Archives. More than 15 million maps, charts, aerial photographs, architectural drawings, patents, and ship plans can be found in the cartographic and architectural holdings in College Park, Maryland. Learn more.
Handwritten escape and evasion report of McQueen, Sebron Andrew Jr. (2 L.t)

World War II Escape and Evasion Reports
Nearly 3,000 reports are part of a series containing information on escape and evasion activities and training of U.S. soldiers serving in the European theater during World War II. Within these records, you will find dramatic and gripping first hand accounts of survival from U.S. soldiers in Europe during World War II. Learn more.

"Confederate Slave Payrolls"
During the U.S. Civil War, the Confederate Army required enslavers to loan their enslaved people to the military. Throughout the Confederacy from Florida to Virginia, these enslaved people served as cooks and laundresses, labored in deadly conditions to mine potassium nitrate to create gunpowder, worked in ordnance factories, and dug the extensive defensive trench networks that defended cities such as Petersburg, Virginia.
Handwritten confederate slave payroll listing names and wages
To track this extensive network of thousands of enslaved people and the pay their enslavers received for their lease, the Confederate Quartermaster Department created the record series now called the "Confederate Slave Payrolls." Learn more.
We introduced new research tools and shared strategies for online research:
Screenshot of the Harmon Foundation Collection from the Donated Collections Explorer

Donated Collections Explorer
In addition to 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. 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! Learn more.

Photograph of 3 students in desks at a classroom with their hands raised
Education Resources
Whether you are a teacher or a learner in an online or in-person environment, the National Archives has an abundance of resources for students and educators. Our Educator Resources web page contains information and resources on working with primary sources, free distance learning programs, professional development, civic education, and more. Learn more.
Black and white photograph of a man looking through binoculars with a kitten sitting on his lap
Navigating the Catalog
Did you know the National Archives Catalog contains over 159 million pages of digitized historical records and more than 27.6 million descriptions of the records in our holdings? And new pages and descriptions are being added to the Catalog each week! With so much information and material available to search, we are excited to share updated Catalog Help pages with new instructional videos to help you navigate the Catalog and make the most of your research online. Learn more.
Animated gif of a woman sitting at a computer typing with one hand while writing with the other
History Hub special edition
Are you stuck in your historical research? Have you hit a wall in your genealogy quest? Find your answer on History Hub! We invite you to explore History Hub, our pioneering crowdsourced history and genealogy research community. Make History Hub your first stop! You can ask—or answer—questions on History Hub, or see if your question has already been answered. Learn more.
We commemorated several important historical anniversaries:

100th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre
The Tulsa Massacre of 1921 was one of the worst instances of mass racial violence in American history. The violence centered on Tulsa’s Greenwood District (also known as “Black Wall Street”), a commercial area with many successful Black-owned businesses. In 24 hours, hundreds were killed, thousands displaced, and 35 city blocks were burned to ruins. The attack on Black Wall Street included the first aerial bombing of a U.S. city.

Photograph of Tulsa Oklahoma after the massacre
The American National Red Cross provided relief to many victims of this massacre. The Tulsa Chapter compiled reports and a photo album relating to their management of the disaster relief effort, showing riot scenes, devastated areas, National Guard troops, destroyed homes, dead victims, and massacre survivors in temporary housing. Learn more.
Firefighters unfurl a large American flag over the scarred stone of the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia

20th anniversary of 9/11
This year marked the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. As the nation’s record keeper, the National Archives holds many records  related to the events of September 11, including the 9/11 Commission Records, 9/11 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Records, and more than 50,000 photographs from White House photographers capturing the horror and heroism, the courage and compassion surrounding the attacks. Learn more.

Photograph of the Pearl Harbor memorial at night with lights from the city in the background
80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor
On the morning of December 7, 1941, Japanese bombers and torpedo planes staged a surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, propelling the United States into World War II. Within the holdings of the National Archives, you will find records chronicling U.S. military history and battles, including photographs, video footage, maps, ship plans, and other records related to the events of Pearl Harbor. Learn more.
Citizen Archivist Mission History
Black and white photograph of soldiers dancing aboard a ship
And we unlocked history! Thanks to our online volunteers, more than 1 million pages in the National Archives Catalog have been enhanced with your tags, transcriptions and comments this year. All of your contributions help improve search results for our records and make handwritten or difficult-to-read text accessible for a wider audience. Thank you!
Soldiers Dancing Aboard Ship, 5/2/1944. National Archives Identifier 138926282

Want to see more of the Citizen Archivist Missions you’ve worked on? Curious about the kinds of missions we’ve done in the last few years? Check out our Mission History page. On this page we list our previous missions so that you can review the records from previous projects. In a few cases, we still need some help completing the transcription or tags, so review the list and help us out. Did you have a favorite Mission this year? Let us know!

Top 50 Contributors of 2021

A big THANK YOU to each of our contributors! We look forward to unlocking more history together in 2022. And a special shout-out to our top 50 contributors this year:



















































Animated gif of a group of soldiers filing out of a tent. Many smile at the camera, while one man smiles and tips his hat before walking away

Happy New Year from all of us at the National Archives. We wish you a wonderful, peaceful holiday season.

Start your research on History Hub
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Have a question? Find your answer on History Hub!

History Hub’s research and user community has provided answers to thousands of fascinating questions over the past year, including:

  1. Top Secret WW2 documents- still secret?
  2. Re: When has the government used "Cannot Confirm or Deny"?
  3. How to search U.S. Census records?
  4. What is the latest information on Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan?
  5. Seeking Clayton's Guide or other guides to 1850s Oregon Trail
  6. Searching for war bride records from Europe
  7. Where can I find my Great-Grandfather's Homestead Application?


See also Top History Hub Questions of 2021 and Select your Favorite History Hub Question of 2021

See our recent newsletter for more details, information, and instructions about Getting Started with History Hub

Citizen Archivists, there's a group just for you!  You can share tips and strategies, find new challenges, and get support for your work.  Get started with our poll: What kinds of records do you like to transcribe?

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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Catalog Newsletter

Learn about newly added records and receive tips on using the Catalog's features, functionality, and guides. The National Archives Catalog is the online public portal to our records where you can learn more about our holdings. This email newsletter is delivered on a biweekly basis.  Subscribe to the National Archives Catalog Newsletter.