Plan a Research Visit

Notice to NARA Researchers and FOIA Requesters

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of our staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgment as well as a substantive response to your reference or FOIA request or appeal. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.

Read more on how NARA is addressing COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Read the Archivist's letter to the research community (June 12, 2020).

Contact the Archivists

Researchers who contact us in advance about their interests have the most successful visits. Archival research can be complex, so the more prepared we are for your visit, the better we can help you find what you need. 

Archivists can help you learn more about conducting archival research, connect you to primary and secondary sources relevant to your topic, and provide access to research aids, including our curated subject guides and bibliographies. We can also help direct you to relevant digitized materials and finding aids so that you can prepare to make the most of your visit.

Schedule an Appointment

Appointments are required for Audiovisual research and strongly recommended for Textual research. Due to limited space in both research rooms, we cannot guarantee that we can accommodate researchers who have not made a confirmed appointment before coming to the Library.

The Research Room is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday (except federal holidays). The Audiovisual Research Room is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Wednesday through Friday. To schedule an appointment, contact us:

Audiovisual research (by appointment only):

Textual and oral history research:

Hemingway research:

Class research visits (by appointment only):

For those who can’t visit us in person, we offer a range of Research Support Services. We also encourage those outside of the Boston area to apply for our Fellowships, designed to support researchers who need to use our archival holdings.

When You Arrive

When you arrive, proceed to the front desk and check-in with the security guard. The security guard will call the Archivist on Duty to confirm that you have scheduled an appointment. (If no appointment has been made, we cannot guarantee that your visit can be accommodated.) Once this is done, they will escort you to the Research Room. The Archivist on Duty will have you complete the necessary steps to receive a researcher card: you’ll need to bring a photo identification (driver’s license or passport, for example), fill out a Researcher Application, and review the National Archives Researcher Orientation.

Once you’re registered, you’ll store your belongings in a secure locker. We’re happy to answer questions about specific items that are allowed in our research rooms; here are some we are asked about frequently:


  • Phones, tablets, and laptops (on ‘silent’ mode)
  • Flat-bed scanners
  • Cameras (with flash turned off)
  • Pencils

Not allowed:

  • Pens
  • Bags and backpacks
  • Coats or jackets
  • Food or drink, including gum
  • Light sources for photographing materials, including camera flash
  • Scanners that apply pressure to materials, including wand and feeder scanners

Because the JFK Library is a federal building, we follow this set of policies and procedures for every research room visitor.

Audiovisual Research

All on-site audiovisual research (photographs, sound recordings, and moving images) is by appointment only and is subject to staffing availability. Appointments will be accepted for Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Please email to make an appointment with the AV Reference Archivist, and include a list of materials you hope to see during your visit. Sound recording research requires at least two weeks advance notice so that listening copies can be prepared. All original audiotapes must be reviewed prior to opening. Requests will be handled on a case-by-case basis as resources allow; however, access to audio is not guaranteed. 

Conducting Research

All researchers work in the main Research Room (unless arrangements have been made to use specialized equipment for accessing audiovisual materials). Researchers may request up to 15 boxes at a time, and are encouraged to contact us before visiting for help compiling a list of relevant boxes.

All of our material is stored on-site, making it easy to retrieve; we do not accept requests for boxes until a researcher is at the Library. We do not have set times for retrieving archival materials; however, no new requests for materials will be accepted after 3:30 pm. The Archivist on Duty will explain ordering procedures and will provide instruction on working with original archival materials.

An archivist will always be stationed in the research room to answer questions about our holdings and policies. The information most frequently requested by our on-site researchers can be found at the following links:

Citation Guide


Declassification & Review


Research Guides

*A note on reproductions: the research room has one photocopier for self-service copying at $0.25 per page. Alternatively, many researchers bring their own approved scanners, cameras, tablets, phones, or other devices to image materials without flash or other secondary light sources. There are some restrictions on materials that may be reproduced, so contact us for more information or visit our Reproductions page.