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U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA): Home

What is NARA?

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the United States government agency tasked with preserving and providing access to "essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their Government." Established in 1934, NARA's collections include materials from 1775 to the present. 

NARA's network of archives consists of Archives I and II (in Washington, D.C. and College Park, MD, respectively), 14 Regional Archives located across the United States, the Presidential Library system, and a number of Affiliated Archives.

NARA does not preserve all of the documents and publications produced by the U.S. federal government; it is only responsible for the small percentage (1-3%) of these materials that are of significant historical or legal value. Even within such a limited-sounding scope, NARA's collections are rich and diverse, and encompass everything from the Bill of Rights to the police report on the arrest of Rosa Parks, from military service records to political cartoons.

Today's Document from the National Archives

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NARA on microfilm - at Yale and beyond

The Microform Reading Room in Sterling Memorial Library houses many NARA microfilm sets, including records of the Office of Indian Affairs, State Department records, despatches from U.S. consuls, and more. These resources may save you the time and effort of making a trip to NARA or to a presidential library. To identify NARA microfilm available at Yale, try a keyword search from the Microform Reading Room site (which limits your results to microforms), or search in Orbis.

To find State Department records about Iran -

keyword search: state department AND iran AND "national archives"

You will need to use a finding aid to determine how the records are arranged in a microfilm set - in other words, to figure out which reels contain which documents. Some finding aids are available online (and linked from the Orbis record for the microfilm set); others are available in print in the Microform Room. 

Don't see what you need? Search these sites to discover microfilm sets that you can request through Interlibrary Loan:

Presidential documents

Some presidential materials are readily available for researchers outside of presidential libraries.

  • Public Papers and speeches: This guide will direct you to the Public Papers of the Presidents series (beginning with Herbert Hoover), as well as the Compilation of Presidential Documents and additional resources for researching the presidency.
  • Presidential Papers: The Library of Congress has made over two million documents--including letters to and from the President, diaries, reports, and applications for office--available on microfilm, and is working to digitize many of these sources for the American Memory site. The microfilm sets are available in the SML Microform Reading Room.

Other federal government materials at Yale

Yale University Library is a selective depository for U.S. federal government documents. Our collection--print, microfilm, and other formats--is fully cataloged and searchable in Orbis. Please see this guide for more information about finding U.S. government documents.

To find Congressional materials, including the U.S. Congressional Serial Set, search ProQuest Congressional.

Curator for American History and Diplomacy

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Joshua Cochran