Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
The U. S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) identifies itself as the nation's record keeper. The NARA is the repository for key records created by the United States Federal government, and not only landmark documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the U. S. Constitution and others, but public records of ordinary citizens as well, including military and naturalization records, passenger lists, U. S. census records, Native American records, etc. As noted on its website, "In a democracy, records belong to the people." The main National Archives Records Building is located in Washington, D. C. the nation's capitol, with other sites located across the country. The public is welcome to visit and conduct research at any of these sites. Many of the NARA's collections have been digitized with some available on the NARA website and various online partnerships.
In addition to its value to researchers in many fields, the NARA is an important resource for genealogists. Researchers can visit the National Archives in person or through an agent; they can make requests by mail, and they may also conduct a good bit of research online through the NARA websites and its many valuable resources. And through its online partnerships, many of the NARAs most important genealogical documents are in the process of being digitize and being made conveniently available, online. Several GenWeekly articles provide insight and information on researching the records of the U. S. National Archives, as well as the Archives of other countries. Of particular interest might be Searching the National Archives for Native American Records ($), and the most recent, Researching NARA With the Online Public Access Prototype ($).