About The Archives
In a democracy, government records belong to the people. Since its creation in 1934, the nonpartisan National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has served as the nation’s official record keeper, safeguarding and providing public access to billions of records from all three branches of the United States government.
Records help us to claim our rights as citizens, to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions, and to document our history as a nation. By preserving our most important records, the Archives ensures that future generations of Americans will be able to explore our shared history at the home of the official Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.
The National Archives was established during the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but its major holdings date back to 1775. They capture the sweep of the past: slave ship manifests and the Emancipation Proclamation; captured German records and the Japanese surrender documents from World War II; journals of polar expeditions and photographs of Dust Bowl farmers; Indian treaties making transitory promises; and a richly bound document bearing the bold signature “Bonaparte”—the Louisiana Purchase Treaty that doubled the territory of the young republic.
The Archives keeps only those Federal records judged to have continuing value—about 3 percent of those generated in any given year. All of these materials are preserved because they are important to the workings of government, have long-term research worth, or provide information of value to citizens. Today, the Archives’ collection includes 12 billion sheets of paper, 40 million photographs, miles and miles of video and film, and more than 5.3 billion electronic records. The records are housed in facilities around the country, from Anchorage, Alaska to Atlanta, Georgia— including two Washington, DC, area buildings, 14 Regional Archives, 17 Federal Records Centers, 13 Presidential libraries, and the National Personnel Records Center.
About the Acting Archivist
Colleen Shogan became the 11th Archivist of the United States in May 2023.
On August 3, 2022, President Joseph R. Biden nominated Dr. Colleen Shogan to be Archivist of the United States. The U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. Shogan on May 10, 2023, and she was sworn in as the 11th Archivist of the United States on May 17, 2023.
Most recently, Dr. Shogan served as Senior Vice President and Director of the David M. Rubenstein Center at the White House Historical Association. She previously worked in the United States Senate and as a senior executive at the Library of Congress. Dr. Shogan was the Vice Chair of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission and the Chair of the Board of Directors at the Women’s Suffrage National Monument Foundation. She taught at Georgetown University in the Government Department and moderated seminars for the Aspen Institute. She is the previous President of the National Capital Area Political Science Association and served on the American Political Science Association Council, the governing body of the organization. Her research focuses on the American Presidency, Presidential rhetoric, women in politics, and Congress.
A native of the Pittsburgh area, Dr. Shogan holds a BA in Political Science from Boston College and a Ph.D. in American Politics from Yale University, where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the Order of the Cross and Crown, and the Washington, D.C. Literary Society.