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 the reading room on the first floor of the National Museum of American History and the off-site reading room in Suitland, Maryland (the first full week of each month). 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. We recommend that you make travel arrangements after you have scheduled an appointment. Several collections are located at our off-site facility and can only be accessed the first full week of each month.

Archives Center Reference Room, National Museum of American History

Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Closed: 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 (Monday through Friday)

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

Phone: 202-633-3270

The Archives Center is located in a public area of the first floor of the west wing of the National Museum of American History. Researchers should use the entrances on Constitution Avenue or the Mall. Security clearances and staff escorts are not necessary.


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 $.50/page (Ten free pages each fiscal year).
  • Personal scanners are not allowed. The reference room staff can provide information on how to obtain scans.
  • 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.