Research

The Archives Center provides access to the collections regardless of ability to travel to Washington, D.C. Research can be done either in-person or remotely. For information about accessing collection materials from a distance and obtain responses to specific inquiries contact the Archives Center. Information about duplications and use permissions can be found here: Rights and Reproductions.
 

Visit the Archives Center

Reference services are available in our reading room on the first floor of the National Museum of American History and at the off-site location in Suitland, Maryland. Seating is limited. Researchers must make appointments two weeks in advance of planned visits. We also strongly urge all researchers to contact the Archives Center to discuss their research needs prior to scheduling an appointment and visiting so that we can ensure space and collections availability.

Location, Days, Hours:

HOURS:

Archives Center Reference Room, National Museum of American History
Monday, 9:30 am - 3:30 pm
Tuesday, 9:30 am - 3:30 pm

Building 19, Garber Facility, Suitland Maryland
Wednesday, 9:45 am to 3:00 pm
Thursday, 9:45 am to 3:00 pm

Closed: Fridays and Federal Holidays


Scheduling Appointments:

Appointments are required. All appointments must be scheduled at least two weeks in advance.

  • To request an appointment send an email to archivescenter@si.edu . Please be as specific as possible about your research topic and/or the collections you hope to use. To learn about the collections search the Smithsonian's on-line cataloguing system SIRIS before contacting the Archives Center to schedule an appointment.

Research at the Archives Center Reading Room, National Museum of American History (Mondays and Tuesdays)

Street Address:
Archives Center
National Museum of American History
14th Street & Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20560-0601

Phone: 202-633-3270

Researchers should enter the National Museum of American History through the South Wing Staff Entrance (Directions here). Non-Smithsonian researchers will need to sign in, obtain a temporary visitor's badge, and be escorted by an Archives Center staff member.


Research at Building 19, Garber Facility, Suitland Maryland (Wednesdays and Thursdays)

Street Address:
3904 Old Silver Hill Road
Suitland, Maryland 20746

Phone: 301-238-1036
            301-238-1038

Getting to Building 19, Garber Facility

There are three ways to reach the Garber Facility, located in Suitland, Maryland, approximately six miles southeast of the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall.

Take the Smithsonian's free hourly shuttle bus service between the Mall and Garber. The shuttle stops on the Mall side (Madison Drive) of the National Museum of American History (NMAH) on the hour and arrives at Garber about 30 minutes later. All non-Smithsonian researchers must have a shuttle pass. Contact the Archives Center for specific instructions for taking the shuttle and to arrange for a shuttle pass.

Drive to the facility: Free parking is available. For more details contact the Archives Center.

Take public transportation: Available via Metrorail (green line); the Garber Facility is a 10-15 minute walk from the Suitland Station. For more details see www.wmata.com


Please Note: The Archives Center's reading room in Building 19 is more than a quarter of a mile walk from the entrance to the Garber facility. Comfortable shoes are recommended.

  • Please inform the staff if you need assistance reaching Building 19 when scheduling an appointment .
  • Researchers may bring computers and use cameras to take digital notes. There is NO wifi available.
  • A copier is available for self-service photocopying. Copies are $.25/page (10 free copies a year). Payment by check or credit card only.
  • Researchers will be required to break from 12:00 to 1:00. Researchers should bring lunch and/or snacks. A refrigerator and microwave are available for use in Building 19.

 

For further details contact the Archives Center's reference desk at 202-633-3270 or at archivescenter@si.edu . Email is preferred.

 


Before You Come

Confirm the Archives Center has the materials you need:

  • Search SIRIS, the Smithsonian Institution’s on-line catalogue.
  • Send an email to archivescenter@si.edu or call (202-633-3270) to consult with an archivist and to make an appointment. Email is preferred.
  • Make separate arrangements with the curatorial staff to do research in the Museum's artifact collections.

Getting Started

  • Complete the Archives Center registration form.
  • First-time researchers must view a four-minute orientation powerpoint (with sound) when they arrive at the Archives Center or Play it now » (74 MB file).
  • Laptops and cameras are allowed in the reference room.
  • Folders and notebooks may not be taken into the reference room. Pencils and paper for note taking are provided.
  • Consult with the reference archivist if you need to bring notes into the reference room.

Conducting Research

  • To request materials complete the container form provided.
  • Consult with the reference archivist if you find fragile, torn or damaged documents.
  • Photocopying is self-serve using the copiers in the reference room. Copies cost $.25/page (Ten free pages each fiscal year).
  • Personal scanners are not allowed. The reference room staff can provide information on how to obtain scans.
  • Researchers using personal cameras must complete a Permission to Use Personal Digital Equipment form. The reference archivist on duty can provide additional information.
  • Inform the reference archivist if you need to leave the reading room for any reason.

Before You Leave for the Day

  • Pay the reference archivist for your photocopies; receipts are provided. The Archives Center accepts cash, checks, and credit cards.
  • Turn in your container form and check out with the reference archivist.