General Information

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The Archives manages all research, retrieval, and reference use of archived information by staff, institutional and committee members, and qualified external users. Analytical summaries in response to internal questions about NAS-NRC history are provided on request; similar services may be provided to external researchers when appropriate. Requests for research and reference assistance should be directed to the Archives staff.

The Archives is open to researchers pursuing specific projects requiring documentary information on the history of the National Academies. Because of staffing and resource constraints, we cannot accommodate visits for browsing only. Records more than 25 years old are generally open to researchers. Certain categories of privileged records are excepted, such as fraternal papers, fellowship materials, case files, personnel files, report review files, confidential deliberative information, and proprietary information.


The Archives houses a number of collections relating to the history of the institution. The main collection consists of the Central Policy Files of the executive offices, spanning the institution's history from its inception in 1863 up through the present. Our Collections Page provides more information about the information available for viewing.

Access Policies and Services

Arranging a Research Visit

The Archives is open to researchers affiliated with the NAS upon request. Researchers unaffiliated with the NAS must contact the Archives staff to set up an appointment at least four weeks in advance for a research visit. We cannot accommodate drop-in visitors. Archives hours for researchers are 9:00 am-3:00 pm Tuesday through Thursday; we are closed for Federal holidays.

Use of Materials

Materials are kept in closed stacks and can only be used in the reading room. Archives staff will retrieve and remove materials at the researcher's request. Many of the collections are organized and feature completed finding aids; other collections may be semi-organized but accessible. Archives staff can assist researchers in use of finding aids and in location of relevant records.


Photocopying of archival materials open to research is allowed contingent on the condition of the materials. Arrangements may be made for Archives staff to make photocopies of eligible materials and to post them to the requesting researcher. Such services are contingent on the size of the request, the nature of the document(s), and the availability of staff.

Scanners and Digital Cameras

Scanners and digital cameras are allowed in the Archives. As with photocopying, reproduction of archival materials by scanning or digital photography is contingent on the condition of the materials.

Photograph Reproduction

All photograph reproduction is done by digital scan. Researchers may arrange to obtain scans of photographs in our collections for which the National Academies hold the copyright. Scans of photographs will be provided by Archives staff contingent on the size of the request and staff availability.

Cell Phones

Use of cell phones, except for photographing of archival materials, is prohibited in the Archives reading room. Ringers must be switched off while in the reading room. The Archives does have access to Wi-Fi for visitors.

Request for Reference and Research Assistance

We may be able to provide digital copies of archival materials, reference and research assistance/answering questions and/or scanning and transmitting digital copies of archival material, depending on staff availability. When this is possible requests will be answered in the order in which they are received.

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