National Archives and Records Administration

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The United States National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is an independent agency of the United States government charged with preserving and documenting government and historical records and with increasing public access to those documents. NARA is officially responsible for maintaining and publishing the legally authentic and authoritative copies of acts of Congress, presidential proclamations and executive orders, and federal regulations. The chief administrator of NARA, the Archivist of the United States, not only maintains the official documentation of the passage of amendments to the U.S. Constitution by state legislatures, but has the authority to declare when the constitutional threshold for passage has been reached, and therefore when an act has become an amendment.

The agency often works closely with scholars to facilitate its studies.



Originally, each branch and agency of the U.S. government was responsible for maintaining its own documents, which often resulted in the loss and destruction of records. Congress established the National Archives Establishment in 1934 to centralize federal record keeping, with the Archivist of the United States as its chief administrator. The National Archives was incorporated into the General Services Administration in 1949, but in 1985 it was made an independent agency as NARA (National Archives and Records Administration).

Most of the documents in the care of NARA are in the public domain, as works of the federal government are excluded from copyright protection. However, some documents that have come into the care of NARA from other sources may still be protected by copyright or donor agreements.[4] NARA also stores classified documents and its Information Security Oversight Office monitors and sets policy for the U.S. government's security classification system.

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