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 steps:

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If you are interested in learning about unpublished documents collected by the Archive, send us an email, fax, or letter, describing your topic of interest.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, excepting holidays.

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 per session.

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 delays.

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.


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Terms and conditions for use of materials found on this website.