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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Black and white photograph of Ames Receptionist Beatrice Aikman on the telephone at her desk

FAQs About the Scope of the Collections in the NASA Archives

The NASA Archives collects and preserves materials related to NASA and it’s precursor organization the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). These collections span the formation of the first NACA research centers, starting in 1917, through the creation of NASA in 1958, and into the present.

Collections in the NASA Archives cover a wide range of subjects, such as the agency’s various programs, projects, personnel, administration, culture, and facilities, and include a range of formats, including documentation, audiovisual materials, newsletters and other serials, oral histories, biographical information, reports, plans, technical drawings, ephemera, artwork, websites, and other types of information that are valuable for preserving NASA’s history, knowledge, people, processes, and understanding.

At this time, collections at NASA Headquarters, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Ames Research Center are publicly available. More collections will come on line in the future.

Can I access materials in NASA Archives collections online?

Guides to collections as well as digital copies of materials in some collections available online can be found at individual archives. Note that available content is continually coming online as we process new materials.

Finding Photograph Libraries

Where can I find collections of NASA photographs and other audiovisual materials?

Large collections of imagery, video, and audio recordings can be found in the NASA Image and Video Library, the Space Images site, and the Planetary Photojournal.

Custodianship of photograph collections varies by center. Contact the public-facing NASA Archives if the media you seek is not available in these libraries or if you need assistance locating imagery for your project.
NASA Headquarters | Jet Propulsion Laboratory | Ames Research Center

Finding Publication Libraries

Where can I find NASA technical publications?

The NASA Archives primarily collects unique materials and not publications.

The NASA STI Repository (also known as the NASA Technical Reports Server or NTRS) provides access to NASA metadata records, full-text online documents, images, and videos. The types of information included are conference papers, journal articles, meeting papers, patents, research reports, images, movies, and technical videos–scientific and technical information created or funded by NASA.

Where can I find NASA history publications?

A large, online library of NASA history books and other historical publications is freely available on NASA’s History Program site.

Related Collections

Do archives at other institutions have collections about NASA?

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Records Group 255. As the official repository for U.S. Government records, NARA holds the largest collection of NASA and NACA (NASA’s predecessor organization) records. The Record Group number for all NASA records is 255 and the following guide identifies what permanent NASA records can be found at NARA:

NARA Guide to NASA Records

NASA records are distributed across several of NARA’s regional facilities across the country. This guide identifies which NASA records are held at which facilities:

NARA Guide to NASA Records at Regional Facilities

Use and Borrowing

Can I freely use use reproductions of materials from the archives, such as photographs, video, and documents for my projects?

See NASA’s Media Usage Guidelines for guidance on accepted and restricted usage scenarios, such as using NASA imagery and media for non-commercial, educational, commercial, and other projects.

See also the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Image Use Policy for guidance on using media from JPL.

Does NASA lend original materials from the archives for research use?

Original materials are not loaned out for research use.

Does NASA lend materials from the archives for exhibition use?

Yes. Original materials such as documents and artifacts may be loaned to qualified institutions when the intent of the exhibit is to inform and educate the public about NASA and its activities. Check with the individual archives to learn about their loan policies.

Research Visits

Are any NASA Archives open for in-person research visits?

At this time, the NASA Headquarters, Ames Research Center, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory archives are open for in-person research, by appointment.

Because we are a federal agency, there are security protocols that must be complied with. If they are not, researchers can and may be turned away. For all locations, plan ahead to ensure that you provide enough lead time to be cleared through the security process. 

Information on locations and hours, and how to plan your research visit can be found at the public-facing NASA Archives: NASA Headquarters | Jet Propulsion Laboratory | Ames Research Center

When can I conduct research in these archives?

Contact the public-facing NASA Archives directly for their hours of operation and access policies. Appointments are required to visit the NASA Archives.

Can I bring and use cameras, scanners, and laptops?

Contact each facility directly for their policies on equipment.         

Can I bring pens, notebooks, food, or drink into the archives?

For several reasons, including the irreplaceable and fragile nature of archival materials, these are restricted. We can provide pencil and paper.

Who can conduct research in NASA Archives?

Anyone can use the NASA Archives.

Non-Archives Inquiries

I have a general inquiry. How do I contact NASA?

For general inquiries, visit the Contact NASA page.

I am a member of the press corps. Who can help me with my project?

For media inquiries, visit the NASA Media Contacts page.

How can I submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request?

For FOIA requests, visit the NASA Freedom of Information Act page.


Can NASA archivists appraise my historic document, ephemera, or artifact?

NASA archivists do not conduct monetary appraisals or review non-NASA materials. To locate a private appraiser in your area, search the directories of professional associations devoted to appraisal, such as the Appraisers Association of America.


Do the NASA Archives purchase old, historic materials or accept them for donation?

NASA Archives do not purchase materials. The archives may accept offers of donation when the materials are closely connected with the scope of our collections. If materials aren’t related to our collections we can provide advise on other repositories that may be interested in them.

H. Julian Allen standing at a blackboard at Ames Research Center, Apr. 08 1968.
H. Julian Allen standing at a blackboard at Ames Research Center, Apr. 08 1968. Image record A-40639.
NASA / Lee Jones.