This is the central repository of United States federal government department records, notably those of the State Department.
8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001
301-837-2000, or Customer Service Center: 1-866-272-6272
Contact via this link.
Schedule & hoursEdit
Monday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Extended hours on evenings and Saturdays once a month--check the website.
The entrance to the archive, its security desk, registration, and cafeteria are on the ground floor. Lockers are in the basement, and the reading room is on the second floor. The reading room contains a few computer terminals, as well as a glassed-in room containing catalogues. More detailed catalogues can be had in archivists' offices (2600 for the State Department) to the north of the reading room (an escort is required). The microfilm reading room is on the third floor. Most storerooms are on-site.
Public transportation and driving directions can be found here. Public transport access is functional, but less than convenient. A free shuttle bus from the National Archives in DC can be convenient, if you are staying near downtown.
Description of holdingsEdit
(a more extensive description (qualitative and/or quantitative) of the holdings and the state in which they are kept)
History of the archiveEdit
Materials were moved to the new College Park building in the early 1990s.
Catalogues & finding aidsEdit
Finding aids at the College Park archives tend to be primitive: shelf after shelf of second-generation photocopied lists, many offering only general descriptions of holdings. It is almost always necessary to enlist an archivist or two in order to cover the bases, and many of the archivists are very helpful. A breakdown of holdings by Record Group and size is here. The National Archives is beginning to experiment with an online catalogue called the Archival Research Catalog (ARC).
Languages of materialsEdit
English, with some foreign languages in State Department records
Restrictions & difficultiesEdit
Cataloguing is inconsistent, so it can be difficult to ascertain the state of collections. Archivists have been known to escort researchers into the stacks in order to look for obscure material.
Future of the archiveEdit
(what direction is the archive going? what rumours have you heard?)
A passport or other official document will win you access, and you can register on the spot.
After you pass a series of security protocols, you register and receive a reader's card, with which you can enter the reading rooms. Go to the basement to store your bags, then head in.
Permitted and prohibited itemsEdit
- Permitted: laptop computers, cameras, certain scanners (details)
- Prohibited: ink pens
- When ordering documents, you must give two kinds of information. The first kind, a description and identification number, is straightforward enough. The second kind, description of where the material is located in the storage room, is less transparent. This information is expressed by a series of numbers and slashes, in this form: Record Group (RG)/Row/Compartment/Shelf/Box or Volume. "Row" is the name for the big sliding shelf unit in the stacks. Each column within a Row is called a "Compartment." Each Compartment contains five or six shelves, and the workers appreciate it if you can specify the shelf number. Then on the shelf are the boxes or volumes arranged in numeric order. So the whole line of numbers above the “record identification” box on the order slips serves to help them get to the right shelf. They then depend on the material in the record id.
- Records are pulled four times per day (10 and 11 a.m., 1:30 and 2:30 p.m.); submit your orders by beforehand.
Ordering classified materialEdit
(what special permission is necessary?)
(how long does it take for documents to arrive? where are they delivered? how many can you consult at a time? what do you do when you are finished with an item?)
Photocopying, photography, microfilmingEdit
(what are costs, permits, and page limits? how long do you have to wait?)
(what are the main forms that the archive uses? if possible, provide links to copies or post copies directly)
In the main research room, where you order documents, Ed is the guy who knows what he’s doing. Sally Kuisel, the #2 state department archivist, is well informed.
(scholars who are familiar with this archive)
(published works based on research at this archive)
The on-site cafeteria will, in concert with the security protocols, supplement the education of foreign researchers into things American. Microwaves and vending machines also available. The archives are rather isolated from other sources of food.
Lockers are in the basement.
There are some internet terminals in the main reading room.
There is a small bookstore on-site, selling certain catalogues and archive-related materials.
(links to relevant websites and resources)