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Since you have already determined that the only way to access your records of interest is to visit one of our sites, the first step in planing your visit is figuring out which National Archives facility houses those records and when they are open to researchers. You should call, write or email our staff to gather as much information on these records as you can. If you send a letter or email, please include your home address and telephone number in case we need to contact you. You should be able to tell us the Federal and/or presidential connection to your topic; what agencies, offices, or individuals were involved and what time period you are interested in; and and what kinds of records (textual, maps, photographs, electronic, etc.) you are looking for. To help with this process you can refer to the Guide to Federal Records. If you find that you cannot travel to the location that holds your records, you can find more information on hiring an independent researcher here.
Are the records your researching security classified? If so, advance notice is necessary so that the classification status of the records can be determined using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Before you can start your research, you must obtain a Researcher Identification Card. There is a short Orientation Presentation that you must complete before being issued a card. To save on time you can access the presentation online before your visit.