Guide for Researchers
Welcome. This website is the primary source for reference
information about National Security Archive collections.
To search for, locate, and consult our documents, we recommend the following
1. Full-Image Online Access:
Click on the documents page of this website to read full-image versions of the thousands of documents
that have been collected through our primary research efforts and organized
into Electronic Briefing
Books. Each document is accompanied by identifying information
and a summary of its significance.
2. Published Document Collections:
Click here to learn about the more than 90,000 documents that have been included in the Archive’s published collections. They may be viewed online through the Proquest LLC subscription database, the Digital National Security Archive – your local university library should be a subscriber. Access to the database is also provided in the National Security Archive’s Smith Bagley Reading Room in Washington, D.C. In addition, finding aids for many of the published collections, along with microfiche copies of the documents, may be viewed in the reading room. The finding aids provide detailed catalog descriptions and indexes to facilitate research.
3. Other Collections:
If you are interested in learning about unpublished documents collected
by the Archive, send us an email, fax, or letter, describing your topic
of interest. We will search our accessioned materials and inform
you if responsive documents are available.
Send queries to:
(fax) (202) 994-7005
Or write to: The National Security Archive
The George Washington University
Gelman Library, Suite 701
2130 H St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037
Unfortunately, we do not have the staff resources necessary to respond
to telephone inquiries, to provide research services, or to search for
or deliver individual documents. We welcome visits by researchers by appointment
to our Washington, D.C. location. In our reading room, visitors can
consult a finding aid providing descriptions of archived collections.
Materials of interest can be requested, reviewed, and copied on site.
Please be aware that many of our archived materials are stored at the Washington
Research Libraries Consortium facility in suburban Maryland, and that it
may take two days to retrieve them.
To seek an appointment to visit our reading room, contact us at least
48 hours in advance via email, fax, or letter. See the contact information
provided above. Please wait for a confirmation of your appointment.
Unfortunately, our capacity for visitors is limited, so at times it
may be necessary to restrict access. If space allows, researchers
may use our facilities for as many days as they wish.
Information for Visitors to Our Reading Room:
Hours of Operation: From 10:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. on weekdays,
Sign-In: We ask researchers to complete a visitor sign-in
sheet during their first visit, and to update this information as appropriate
during subsequent visits.
Use of published collections: Our staff will provide guidance
in using our finding aids to locate relevant documents. Documents
may be viewed in their entirety and copied, on our microfiche copier, at
a cost of 15 cents per page. When other researchers are waiting,
we ask that individuals restrict their use of the copier to 20 minutes
Use of unpublished documents: Researchers may gain access
to documents in our unpublished collections only through a National Security
Archive staff member. Our onsite finding aid can be consulted to
locate collections containing documents of interest. The archival
boxes containing selected documents may then be requested, through our
public service coordinator. Boxes are usually retrieved within one
to two days, although logistical problems may at times result in longer
Because of space constraints, researchers or research teams are limited
to five boxes at any given time. As each box is reviewed and returned,
additional boxes may be requested.
Materials in use: Materials may be held for researchers within
the reading room for up to three days. A “Materials in Use” sign
can be attached to ensure that documents are held for further review.
One renewal of a request to hold materials is allowed. Researchers
who plan to return on subsequent days should inform our public service
coordinator, so that space in our reading room can be reserved.
Photocopying: Unpublished documents may be copied at a
cost of 15 cents per page. Since only one copier is available to
researchers, we ask that time spent using it be limited to 20 minutes per
session when others are waiting. Our public service coordinator will
explain use of the copier, which automatically counts the number of pages
copied. Payment can be made by cash, check, or travelers check, and
will be accepted by our public service coordinator or other staff members
at our reception desk.
Telephones: Pay phones can be found on the 6th floor and lower
level of the Gelman Library. The Archive is unable to handle incoming
or outgoing calls for researchers. Use of cellular phones is not
allowed in the National Security Archive, but is permissible in the hallway
outside our office.