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Rosalynn Carter

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President Jimmy Carter reviews documents at a desk

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Information about the Carter Library

The Library is not a library in the usual sense but is a research facility and a museum. The archives is a repository of approximately 27 million pages of Jimmy Carter’s White House material, papers of administration associates, including documents, memoranda, correspondence, etc. There are also 1/2 million photographs, and hundreds of hours film, audio and video tape.

Shortly after leaving the White House, Jimmy Carter donated to the United States government his presidential historical materials, including the files of his White House staff. The Library has added, and continues to acquire, additional collections to supplement and enhance these core research holdings.

Domestic and foreign policies and national political affairs related to the Carter administration (1977-1981) are the primary topics represented in the Library’s holdings. Materials from the Office of the First Lady are also available. Many aspects of American society, business, and culture are also represented. Please be advised that some material is yet unavailable or has been withdrawn.

Shortly after taking office as President, Jimmy Carter expressed interest in building a Presidential Library “someplace in Georgia.” The National Archives and Records Administration was invited to establish an office in the Old Executive Building to be staffed by archivists who could advise the White House staff on the preservation and arrangement of the twenty-seven million pages and other historical materials from the Carter presidency, prior to their movement to Georgia. As Carter’s presidency came to a close, a location search began for the Carter Library. After surveying a number of potential areas, today’s thirty-acre location was selected. The land, originally acquired to build an interstate highway, was owned by the state of Georgia. Ironically, the interstate plan was halted by then Governor Carter.

The Carter Presidential Library was built by Atlanta architectural firm, Jova/Daniels/Busby, in cooperation with Lawton/Umemura/Yamamoto of Hawaii who designed the structure. The facility includes the presidential library (donated to the federal government) and privately maintained spaces such as President Carter’s office, offices for foundations he supports, and The Carter Center of Emory University. The $26 million project, raised by donations from friends of President Carter from around the world, began with a ground breaking ceremony on October 2, 1984. The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum was dedicated during the museum opening on October 1, 1986.

Though the research room opened later on January 28, 1987, not all the historical materials are available for research. Archival staff members arrange, describe, preserve, and review for restrictions before materials may be opened for research. Restrictions include national security regulations, federal agency restrictions, and access provisions in deeds of gift for donated historical material.

Continuously, the Jimmy Carter Library actively solicits material of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, major figures in the Carter administration, the Carters’ political or close personal friends, figures of secondary importance with significant aspects of the Carter administration, and President Carter’s family. Today, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library houses 40,000,000 pages, 1,000,000 photographs, 2,200,000 feet of film, and 2,500 hours of video.

For information about archival holdings and available research services, please visit the Research section for more information.

The building is approximately 69,750 square feet in size. This includes 15,269 square feet of exhibit space and 19,818 square feet of collection storage space.

EDAW, Inc. of Atlanta and Alexandria, Virginia. Japanese Garden was designed by Japanese master gardener, Kinsaku Nakane. The grounds are comprised of 35 acres.

Jova\Daniels\Busby of Atlanta and Lawton, Umemura & Yamamoto of Honolulu. Construction began in October, 1984 and was completed in October, 1986. Private funds were raised for the $26 million complex.

  • Onsite Services: In-person research visits are by appointment only (no walk-ins) and require an advance virtual consultation. To see how to request a consultation, visit Contact Us. Planning a visit for research? Please also view our Researcher Visitor Information regarding COVID Safety Measures.
  • Virtual Services: Staff will continue to provide reference services via virtual means as much as possible. This includes responding to reference inquiries via email, phone, social media, and/or History Hub, as well as providing reproduction services. You may also submit a reference request through the Ask an Archivist form. 
  • Researchers for Hire: If you are interested in hiring a research assistant, please visit NARA’s listing of Independent Researchers Available for Hire for more information.

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