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Researching NASA History

Researching NASA History - For Researchers - Contact Us


The NASA HQ Historical Reference Collection (HRC) is a nearly 2000 cubic foot collection offering NASA staff and qualified researchers a glimpse into the agency's rich and vast history. The HRC, maintained in Washington DC, is arranged by subject but also includes hundreds of biographical files on individuals important to the history of NASA as well as a small audiovisual collection.

It is useful to make a distinction here between the HRC and NASA's official records. The HRC contains copies of historically significant correspondence, memoranda, reports, photographs, and other materials; whereas, the Agency's official, permanent records are mandated by law to go to National Archives. Also important to note, the HRC covers only a slice of NASA history. Researchers interested in more thoroughly exploring a topic should consider contacting the National Archives. Information on NASA holdings in Record Group 255 at the National Archives may be found at Researchers may also want to search other records groups such as Record Group 220, Records of Temporary Committees, Commissions, and Boards where materials relating to the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident Investigation and the National Commission on Space (Paine Commission) are archived.

A collection guide entitled "Research in NASA History: A Guide to the NASA History Program" describes the archival holdings at HQ and at each of the ten Field Centers around the country and provides other useful information. Links to each of the Center History Programs may be found at

Due to the volume of reference requests we receive, we are able to spend no more than 30 minutes per request.

Scholars, students, journalists, and all others with an interest in NASA history are encouraged to visit the History Division in person to conduct research. It is often useful, even recommended, that researchers ask an archivist to run a search on their topic and send the results to them prior to their visit.

Making an Appointment
A few days before your visit, contact the archives to make an appointment. Because we are a federal agency, we have security protocols that must be complied with. If they are not, researchers can and may be turned away.
We will need:
*Your full name
*Telephone number
*Research topic
*Dates of your visit
*Confirmation that you are a US citizen.
Our archivists can work with you to make the most of your visit, with a little bit of communication. You must be at least 16 to research in the facility, or be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

If you are a foreign national, please contact us at least two weeks before your proposed visit. We will need additional information beyond that enumerated above to provide to the Office of Security and Program Protection which reviews foreign visit requests. Thank you for understanding and abiding by NASA Headquarters' security regulations. General information on contacting/visiting us may be found at

Additionally, thousands of historic documents from the HRC have been published to Here researchers will find Press Kits, Press Releases, Mission Transcripts, and Administrators' Speeches and a search engine to help them find pertinent information.

For those interested in accessing official records still in NASA's possession, please consider filing a FOIA request. Click here for the FOIA Guide.

For those wishing to donate historical materials, we do not accept items from individuals outside of the Agency. We have severe space constraints and a collection development policy which limits what we can accept. However, if you are a NASA retiree who has historical material in your possession, please contact us.

A wealth of information of use to researchers is contained on this web site or may be accessed on other sites via links from our site. Click here for details.


Below are links especially for researchers. This list is in no way comprehensive but is simply intended to be a useful tool.

*New* Apollo 7 - 10 NASA Finding Aid by NASA Chief Archivist Robyn Rodgers Biographical and Other Personnel Information. Anniversary pages. History Timelines. Organizational Charts. Oral History Collections. Photo Collections. Internet Archive of NASA Images. Audio-video Clips. NACA/NASA Records at NARA. Style Guide for NASA History Authors and Editors. Thinking About NASA History. NASA HQ Library. NASA HQ Library Online Collection. NASA Scientific and Technical Information." NASA History Office Program Office on iTunes U.

Steve Garber, NASA History Web Curator
Site design by Todd Messer of NASA HQ Printing & Design
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