The National Archives is the U.S. government agency that maintains the documents of government, including the “Founding Documents” such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Right and the Articles of Confederation.
In addition to those documents, the Archives has over 93,000 motion picture films, more than 5.5 million maps, charts and architectural drawings, more than 207,000 sound and video recordings, more than 18 million aerial photographs, nearly 35 million still pictures and posters, and more than 3.5 billion electronic records. And the information website offers is as varied as the United States. It provides data on the wars the country has fought as well as its foreign policy, it providers information on the veterans who served, and on the populace who inhabited the nation including documents that help establish genealogy. There are also documents and information on “Places” such as cities and states, on “Art, Culture and Technology” and on “Events” as wide ranging as the establishment of Thanksgiving as a federal holiday and the Kennedy assassination to information and photographs of the American West.
Because the volume of documents created during the course of conducting U.S. government business is so vast, only from 1 percent to 3 percent are so important for legal or historical reasons that the archives keeps them forever. And while a document is considered important enough to maintain permanently, they are available for viewing.
To facilitate public viewing of documents, the National Archives’ website contains information on getting started in researching records including numbered steps such as “Step 1, Determine your Topic of Interest,” “Step 2, Gather Information About Your Topic,” and so on.
For providing information on how to access the staggering number of documents—if all the paper documents held by the archives were laid end to end, they would circle the Earth 57 times—detailing the story of America, the National Archives’ websiteis Government Video’s Website of the Week.
Click here to access the website.