Hi Sara! Great question. To give others context (and clarify that I've got it correctly). You are in the National Archives Catalog at https://catalog.archives.gov/ and then you did an export of your search results and selected the format of TXT, but are wondering why the result is showing up as a tar.gz file.
If I've got that correct, it's a great question. I'm going to reach out to our catalog staff to see if they can provide you with an answer. I *think* that the tar.gz file is created when you select a number of records above a certain threshold, but I'm not sure how many. You should still have the TXT or the file format you've selected inside the tar.gz file.
When you try to open the tar.gz file, do you get the underlying TXT file? I'm imagining this works similar to when you get a zip file, but it contains another format inside it.
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Meredith Stewart is correct, the txt file you seek should be within the tar.gz file.
It put it in the tar.gz file because it was larger than the previous case in which it downloaded the txt file directly. If the system takes longer than 30 seconds to download the txt file (or any export for that matter), it will compress it into a tar.gz file and place it in your bulk downloads queue.
Basically, double click on the tar.gz file to open it.
Your system will prompt you with a pop-up as to whether you want to open the contents to a temporary folder. Click "Yes." See below for the prompt screenshot from my computer:
Then, it will display the contents of the tar.gz file with the txt file you wanted. See below for screenshot:
From here, you can either double-click directly on the txt file as it appears and view it. Or, if you want to save it elsewhere in your system you can drag and drop or copy and paste the file into the directory of your choice.
Please note the instructions above are for a Windows system using WinZip to decompress the tar.gz file. Depending on your OS, you may have other steps to decompress but same basic concept.
Please let me know if I can be of further assistance!
Thank you for the information which has answered my question.