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NASA Archives Research Guide

A NASA Archivist helps a researcher

Research at the NASA Archives

As the agency’s provider of significant holdings created by NASA, we work to preserve and provide access to NASA’s knowledge, people, processes, and understanding so that it can be discoverable for generations to come. Use this Research Guide to browse our collections and learn where to find other sources of information about NASA history.

NASA Archives hold physical and digital primary source material relating to the history of NASA and our centers, and can assist with pointing you toward information and subject area experts related to your research questions. The NASA Archives promotes discovery and exploration across the universe of NASA records, organizational history, and institutional memory.

While the NASA archives is a rich source of historical materials concerning our agency, we are not the only resource. Information can also be found at other repositories and offices around the agency, at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and elsewhere. It is important to note that, as the official repository for U.S. Government records, NARA holds the largest collection of NASA and NACA records.

To orient you toward available research resources, this research guide provides pointers to the following:

  • Guides to available content in the NASA archives
  • A selection of featured collections in the NASA archives
  • Other information repositories within NASA
  • Selected repositories at other institutions with collections about NASA
  • Ways to contact NASA archivists and historians for research support and guidance
  • Frequently asked questions

We encourage you to approach your research by familiarizing yourself with the universe of information sources about the agency and by browsing related collections and guides. Some of our holdings may be digitized and available online for easier access. Other holdings may be unprocessed or only in analog form, so may require an appointment for access. For additional guidance, consult the Frequently Asked Questions page or contact us for a reference interview to discuss your research objectives so we can help you get started.

NASA Archives Holdings

Materials that document the activities of our agency and individuals. These materials were created at NASA as part of a project, office, or person’s work and provide evidence of both center and agency work. Learn more by exploring our archival collections below.

Archival textual documents

Explore Beyond NASA Archives

Continue your research by exploring resources outside of the NASA Archives, including materials across the NASA agency and NASA records at the National Archives and Records Administration.

A NASA Archivist works with a miniature model of the Orion capsule for an exhibition about the Artemis Program

Family Research

Father, mother, and four children stand in building lobby

Researching a Family Member?

NASA and it’s preceding organization, the NACA, have employed thousands of people. The archives do not keep personnel or employee records of either federal employees, JPL employees, or NASA contractors (contractor employees are individuals hired by an outside company for NASA projects and are not federal employees).

NASA or NACA Employees

If your relative was a federal employee, you can order their official personnel file from the National Personnel Records Center.

NASA Contractors or JPL Employees

If your relative was a contract employee at NASA or a JPL employee, please contact their previous employer.

Please provide us with as much information as possible

In some cases we can locate references to a former contractor or civil servant employee in a NASA Center newsletter or telephone directory. If you would like us to conduct a search, Please send the following information if possible:

  • Name – The name they used when they performed work for NASA. This is especially important for women, who may have used their maiden names.
  • Dates of Employment – If you aren’t sure, estimate the year(s) or decade(s).
  • Type of Employee – Whether they were NASA/JPL employees or contractors.
  • Role – What type of work they performed.
  • NASA Center – The NASA center where they worked. For JPL, whether they worked at JPL or Caltech (if at Caltech, you may be referred to the Caltech Archives).
  • Contracting Company – The name of the private company who employed the contractor.

Direct your search requests to the appropriate NASA Archives: NASA Headquarters | Jet Propulsion Laboratory | Ames Research Center

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Reference our Frequently Asked Questions.