The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the successor agency to the National Archives Establishment, which was created in 1934 and subsequently incorporated into the General Services Administration as the National Archives and Records Service in 1949. NARA was established as an independent agency in the executive branch of the government on October 19, 1984.
Of all documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal government, only 1- to 3-percent are so important for legal or historical reasons that they are kept by NARA forever. Those valuable records are preserved and are available to all Americans, whether they want to see if the records contain clues about their family history, need to prove a veteran's military service, or are researching an historical topic.
Primary Activities of NARA
The National Archives and Records Administration maintains, as archival records, the historically valuable records of the U.S. Government, dating from the Revolutionary War era to the recent past; arranges and preserves records and prepares finding aids to facilitate their use; makes records available for use in research rooms in its facilities and via the Internet; answers written and oral requests for information contained in its holdings; and, for a fee, provides copies of records. These holdings include the records of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
To ensure proper documentation of the organization, policies, and activities of the government, NARA develops standards and guidelines for the nationwide management and disposition of recorded information. It appraises federal records and approves records disposition schedules. It also inspects agency records and records management practices, develops records management training programs, provides guidance and assistance on proper records management, and provides for storage of inactive records.
Modern Records Program
The Modern Records Program improves the life cycle management of federal records in all media for government agencies; provides formal training in federal records management; preserves and makes available permanent electronic records; and coordinates technical assistance to federal agencies on records creation, management, and disposition to agencies in the Washington, DC area.
Presidential Libraries System
The combined U.S. Presidential Library system promotes understanding of the presidency and the American experience. The Presidential Libraries preserve and provide access to historical materials, support research, and create interactive programs and exhibits intended to educate and inspire.