National Archives and Records Administration

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The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation's record keeper. Of all documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal government, only 1%-3% are so important for legal or historical reasons that they are kept by us forever.

Our Holdings

The National Archives was established in 1934 by President Franklin Roosevelt, but its major holdings date back to 1775. They capture the sweep of the past: slave ship manifests and the Emancipation Proclamation; captured German records and the Japanese surrender documents from World War II; journals of polar expeditions and photographs of Dust Bowl farmers; Indian treaties making transitory promises; and a richly bound document bearing the bold signature "Bonaparte"—the Louisiana Purchase Treaty that doubled the territory of the young republic.

NARA keeps only those Federal records that are judged to have continuing value—about 2 to 5 percent of those generated in any given year. By now, they add up to a formidable number, diverse in form as well as in content. There are approximately 9 billion pages of textual records; 7.2 million maps, charts, and architectural drawings; more than 20 million still photographs; billions of machine-readable data sets; and more than 365,000 reels of film and 110,000 videotapes. All of these materials are preserved because they are important to the workings of Government, have long-term research worth, or provide information of value to citizens.

In addition, NARA must also manage the rapidly growing number of electronic Government records. Now being developed, the Electronic Records Archives (ERA) is our strategic response to the challenge of preserving, managing, and providing access to electronic records. ERA will keep essential electronic Federal records retrievable, readable, and authentic for as long as they remain valuable—whether that is a few years or a few hundred years.

The rich stores of material that make up the National Archives of the United States are available to all.

Our History

Concern for the preservation of the records of the nation was expressed early. "Time and accident," Thomas Jefferson warned in 1791, "are committing daily havoc on the originals deposited in our public offices." But it was not until the early 1930s that historians and others concerned with the preservation of the nation’s records saw their hopes realized.

The task of designing an archives building was given to the distinguished architect John Russell Pope. He set out to create a structure that would be in harmony with other great Washington landmarks—the White House, Capitol, Treasury Building, and Lincoln Memorial—and at the same time express the significance, safety, and permanence of the records to be deposited inside.

Ground was broken in 1931; President Herbert Hoover laid the cornerstone in 1933; and the staff moved in to work in 1935. The building reached capacity in the late 1960s, and many records were moved to off-site storage and regional archives. After years of planning, in 1993 a new archives building was completed.

The National Archives at College Park, MD, is a modern facility that has enabled NARA to consolidate its Washington-area records. The six-story building’s present records storage capacity is approximately 2 million cubic feet, and its research rooms can accommodate up to 390 researchers at a time.

Our Mission & Services

NARA's mission, however, reaches far beyond these two buildings to cover the entire lifecycle of records from creation to their ultimate use.

Archives locations in 14 cities, from coast-to-coast, protect and provide public access to millions of records. In addition to assisting Federal agencies and the public with research and reference services, we deliver educational programs and public workshops to help Americans learn how to use archived records. Further, 17 Federal Records Centers (FRC) provide Federal agencies superior records storage, access, and disposition services through a national network of facilities.

The National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis manages the records of millions of military veterans of the 20th century as well as former civilian Federal employees.

Published daily, the Federal Register is a record of Government proclamations, orders, and regulations, and Presidential and other public documents. The Presidential libraries house papers, records, and other historical materials relating to all Presidents from Herbert Hoover on, their families, and their administrations. Not strictly libraries, these institutions combine museum exhibits and educational programs with original records open for research.

NARA also runs a Government-wide records management program to identify records of permanent value, assure the timely disposal of temporary records, and provide agencies with guidance on managing their current records, and it assists non-Federal institutions through a grants program administered by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.


NARA Basic Laws and Authorities

February, 2008 Revision "Basic Laws and Authorities of the National Archives and Records Administration," 2006 Edition General Counsel/Policy and Planning Staff National Archives and Records Administration


NARA Statutes

Highlights

Summary of Non-NARA Statutes Appendixes


NARA Statutes

  • Copies of Acts furnished to Public Printer (§ 710)
  • Printing Acts, joint resolutions, and treaties (§ 711)
  • United States Statutes at Large: references in margins (§ 729)
  • Definitions (§ 1501)
  • Custody and printing of Federal documents; appointment of Director (§ 1502)
  • Filing documents with Office; notation of time; public inspection; transmission for printing (§ 1503)
  • “Federal Register”; printing; contents; distribution; price (§ 1504)
  • Documents to be published in Federal Register (§ 1505)
  • Administrative Committee of the Federal Register; establishment and composition; powers and duties (§ 1506)
  • Filing document as constructive notice; publication of validity; judicial notice; citation (§ 1507)
  • Publication in Federal Register as notice of hearing (§ 1508)
  • Costs of publication, etc. (§ 1509)
  • Code of Federal Regulations (§ 1510)
  • International agreements excluded from provision of Chapter (§ 1511)
  • Definitions (§ 2101)
  • Establishment (§ 2102)
  • Transfer of Functions, Transfer of Personnel, Saving Provisions (§ 2102 notes)
  • Officers (§ 2103)
  • Administrative provisions (§ 2104)
  • Personnel and services (§ 2105)
  • Reports to Congress (§ 2106)
  • Acceptance of records for historical preservation (§ 2107)
  • President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (§ 2107 note)
  • Establishment of National Database for Records of Servitude, Emancipation, and Post-Civil War Reconstruction (§ 2107 note)
  • Responsibility for custody, use, and withdrawal of records (§ 2108)
  • Preservation, arrangement, duplication, exhibition of records (§ 2109)
  • Servicing records (§ 2110)
  • Material accepted for deposit (§ 2111)
  • Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act (§ 2111 note)
  • Presidential archival depository (§ 2112)
  • Capital Improvement Plan for Presidential Archival Depositories; Report (§ 2112 note)
  • Depository for agreements between States (§ 2113)
  • Preservation of motion-picture films, still pictures, and sound recordings (§ 2114)
  • Reports; correction of violations (§ 2115)
  • Legal status of reproductions; official seal; fees for copies and reproductions (§ 2116)
  • Limitation on liability (§ 2117)
  • Records of Congress (§ 2118)
  • Cooperative agreements (§ 2119)
  • Online access of founding fathers documents (§ 2120)
  • Transfer of Funds (§ 2120 note)
  • Definitions (§ 2201)
  • Ownership of Presidential records (§ 2202)
  • Management and custody of Presidential records (§ 2203)
  • Restrictions on access to Presidential records (§ 2204)
  • Exceptions to restricted access (§ 2205)
  • Regulations (§ 2206)
  • Vice-Presidential records (§ 2207)
  • Establishment of Board; membership (§ 2301)
  • Authority of the Board; seal; services; bylaws; rules; regulations; employees (§ 2302)
  • Powers and obligations of the Board; liability of members (§ 2303)
  • Compensation of members availability of trust funds for expenses of the Board (§ 2304)
  • Acceptance of gifts (§ 2305)
  • Investment of funds (§ 2306)
  • Trust fund account; disbursements; sales of publications and releases (§ 2307)
  • Tax exemption for gifts (§ 2308)
  • Creation; composition; appointment and tenure; meetings (§ 2501)
  • Vacancies (§ 2502)
  • Executive director, staff, transportation expenses (§ 2503)
  • Duties; authorizations of grants for historical publications and records authorization for appropriations (§ 2504)
  • Grants for Establishment of State and Local Databases For Records of Servitude, Emancipation, and Post-Civil War Reconstruction (§ 2504 note)
  • Special advisory committees; membership; reimbursement (§ 2505)
  • Advisory Committee to Review Founding Fathers Editorial Projects (§ 2505 note)
  • Records to be kept grantees (§ 2506)
  • Advisory Committee on the Records of Congress (§ 2701)
  • Membership; chairman; meetings (§ 2702)
  • Functions of the Committee (§ 2703)
  • Powers of the Committee (§ 2704)
  • Compensation and travel expenses (§ 2705)
  • Administrative provisions (§ 2706)
  • Definitions (§ 2901)
  • Objectives of records management (§ 2902)
  • Custody and control of property (§ 2903)
  • General responsibilities for records management (§ 2904)
  • Establishment of standards for selective retention of records; security measures (§ 2905)
  • Inspection of agency records (§ 2906)
  • Records centers and centralized microfilming services (§ 2907)
  • Regulations (§ 2908)
  • Retention of records (§ 2909)
  • Preservation of Freedmen’s Bureau records (§ 2910)
  • Records management by agency heads; general duties (§ 3101)
  • Establishment of program of management (§ 3102)
  • Transfer of records to records centers (§ 3103)
  • Certifications and determinations on transferred records (§ 3104)
  • Safeguards (§ 3105)
  • Unlawful removal, destruction of records (§ 3106)
  • Authority of comptroller general (§ 3107)
  • Definition of records (§ 3301)
  • Regulations covering lists of records for disposal, procedure for disposal, and standards for reproduction (§ 3302)
  • Lists and schedules of records to be submitted to the Archivist by head of each Government agency (§ 3303)
  • Examination by Archivist of lists and schedules of records lacking preservation value; disposal of records (§ 3303a)
  • Disposal of similar records where prior disposal was authorized (§ 3308)
  • Preservation of claims of Government until settled in General Accounting Office; disposal authorized upon written approval of Comptroller General (§ 3309)
  • Disposal of records constituting menace to health, life or property (§ 3310)
  • Destruction of records outside continental U.S. in time of war or when hostile action seems imminent; written report to Archivist (§ 3311)
  • Photographs or microphotographs of records considered as originals; certified reproductions admissible in evidence (§ 3312)
  • Moneys from sale of records payable into the Treasury (§ 3313)
  • Procedures for disposal of records exclusive (§ 3314)
  • E-Government Act of 2002 (§ 3501 note)
  • Authority and functions of Director (§ 3504)
  • Administrative powers (§ 3515)
  • Chief Information Officer’s Council (§ 3603)

Legislative History of NARA Statutes


Non-NARA Statutes

Summary of Non-NARA Statutes

  • Access to Classified Information (50 U.S.C. § 435)
  • Administrative Dispute Resolution Act (5 U.S.C. §§ 571-583)
  • Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. §§ 551-559, 701-706, 1305, 3105, 3344, 4301, 5335, 5372, 7521)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq)
  • Anti-Deficiency Act (31 U.S.C. § 1341(a)(1)(A)-(B))
  • Anti-Nepotism Act (5 U.S.C. § 3110)
  • Augmentation Prohibition (31 U.S.C. §§ 1301 (a), 3302(b))
  • Debt Collection Act of 1982 (31 U.S.C. §§ 3302, 3701, 3711, 3716-3719)
  • Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (31 U.S.C. §§ 3720B-3720D)
  • Depository Library Program (44 U.S.C. §§ 1901-1916)
  • Dissemination of Information Abroad (22 U.S.C. § 1461)
  • Economy in Government Act (31 U.S.C.§ 1535)
  • Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996 (5 U.S.C. § 552 note)
  • Emergency Preparedness (42 U.S.C.§ 5195)
  • Equal Access to Justice Act (5 U.S.C. § 504)
  • Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C. App. 4 §§ 101-111, 401-408, 501-505; 28 U.S.C. §§ 49, 528-529, 591-598; 2 U.S.C. §§ 118(a), 288(a)-(m), 1365)
  • Ethics Reform Act of 1989 (2 U.S.C. §§ 29d, 72a-1g, 362-364; 5 U.S.C. §§ 3393a, 7353; 5 U.S.C. App. 4 §§ 110-111, 501-505; 10 U.S.C. § 1601; 18 U.S.C. § 216; 26 U.S.C. § 1043; 31 U.S.C. § 1353)
  • Executive and Judiciary Printing and Binding (44 U.S.C. §§ 1101-1123)
  • Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act (38 U.S.C. § 501 note)
  • Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App. 2 §§ 1-15)
  • Federal Tort Claims Act (28 U.S.C. §§ 1291, 1346, 1402, 2401-2402, 2411-2412, 2671-2680)
  • Government in the Sunshine Act (5 U.S.C. § 552b)
  • Government Paperwork Elimination Act (5 U.S.C. § 3504 note)
  • Government Performance and Results Act (31 U.S.C. §§ 1101 note, 1115 note)
  • Hobby Protection Act (15 U.S.C. § 2101)
  • Information Technology Management Reform Act (40 U.S.C. §§ 1401-1503)
  • Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. §§ 3501- 3520)
  • Pay Rates and Systems (5 U.S.C. § 5314)
  • Public Printing and Documents (44 U.S.C. Chapter 19)
  • Regulatory Negotiation Act (5 U.S.C. § 561 et seq)
  • Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq.)
  • Use of Government Vehicles (31 U.S.C. § 1344)
  • Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 (5 U.S.C. §§ 1211-1219, 1221-1222, 3352)
  • Whistleblower Protection Laws (10 U.S.C. § 2409; 15 U.S.C. §§ 2622, 2651; 18 U.S.C. § 1031; 29 U.S.C. § 1855; 30 U.S.C. § 1293, 815; 33 U.S.C. § 1367; 42 U.S.C. §§ 300j-9, 5851, 6971, 7622, 9610; 46 U.S.C. App. § 1506; 49 U.S.C. § 31105)


Appendixes

Executive Orders

  • #11440 Providing for the Supplemental Use of Exhibits and Displays Created in Furtherance of Authorized Programs of Executive Departments and Agencies
  • #12600 Predisclosure Notification Procedures for Confidential Commercial Information
  • #12667 Presidential Records, revoked by Executive Order #13233
  • #12829 National Industrial Security Program
  • #12937 Declassification of Selected Records Within the National Archives of the United States
  • #12958 Classified National Security Information, as amended by Executive Order #13292
  • #13233 Further Implementation of the Presidential Records Act, revoked by Executive Order #13489


Sources

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