Getting Started with Archival Research
You have probably determined your topic of interest and have started gathering information. Or maybe you want to seek inspiration from what we have in our archival holdings at the Library. Here you can find more information about the records and historical materials, as well as their availability status. This can help you determine your next steps, whether it be seeking Onsite Research Services or submitting a reference inquiry via Ask an Archivist.
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 Please be advised that some material is yet unavailable or has been withdrawn.
Copies/scans produced by archival staff are $0.80 per page with a minimum charge of $15.00. While you are required to prepay, but please do not pay in advance of being billed.
Please note that, due to limited staff time and resources, Library staff typically cannot make value judgments as to what material should or should not be copied/scanned—instead, we will copy/scan the entire contents of specific file units as identified by the researcher. If individual items (for example, a speech) are easily locatable, we can provide copies/scans of individual items in those instances.
Provide specific citation information (e.g. collection, container number, file unit title) to the extent possible when making copy requests.
For audiovisual materials, please visit Fees for A/V Reproduction Services.
Additionally, researchers may make self-service copies onsite for $0.25 per page.
For guidance on requesting material via FOIA from the National Archives and Records Administration, of which the Jimmy Carter Library is part, please visit archives.gov/foia.
- 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.
Anyone from the general public will be welcome to use the library’s research collections and resources following a preliminary consultation to assess needs and what responsive material we may have. Appointments are required at this time. You do not need to be an American citizen or present credentials or a letter of recommendation. However, there are some additional things to keep in mind with regards to research by individuals under the age of 18:
If you are a minor, 14 or older, and have photo identification bearing your current address:
- You do not need to have a parent or guardian with you.
- Your ID should include your current address. We will accept a driver’s license, learner’s permit, non-driving state ID, or school ID.
If you are a minor, 14 or older, and do not have photo identification bearing your current address:
- You must have a parent or guardian accompany you.
- Your parent or guardian must have a photo ID with proof of current address.
- The archival staff member in charge of your researcher orientation will use your parent’s or guardian’s ID during the researcher application process.
- Your parent or guardian may leave once you have your researcher card. You must have your researcher card with you in order to be able to come back without your parent or guardian.
If you are under 14:
- Your parent or guardian must stay with you at all times while you conduct your research.
- Your parent or guardian must have a photo ID with proof of current address. Both of you must register for research and go through the orientation and application process onsite, as directed.
Onsite research visits are by appointment; if you proceed to make an appointment following an initial consultation, material can be pulled in advance of your visit. Staff can also provide reference services via virtual means.
While the majority of the Library’s holdings are available to research, some records are unavailable. In some cases, the records themselves might as of yet be unprocessed. (Unprocessed means the material has not yet been arranged, described, preserved, and/or reviewed for restrictions.) Details regarding Access and Use Restrictions with regards to unprocessed collections typically can be found via the National Archives Catalog (NAC). Unprocessed collections generally cannot be made available for research, but we encourage you to contact us via Ask an Archivist to let us know of your interest in particular collections still in need of processing.
In other cases, select documents might be withdrawn from collections. When this occurs, descriptions of these records, along with the categorical reason for their withdrawal, will appear listed on a Withdrawal Sheet at the front of each file unit. The majority of withdrawn records pertain to either national security-related information protected from release or they have been withdrawn because their release would be an unwarranted invasion of an individual’s privacy. Occasional other restrictions derive from specific agreements (referred to as deeds of gift) between the Library and those who have donated materials or are due to statutory/agency restrictions.
In some collections, such as the Records of the National Security Advisor, there are still significant amounts of material that has not been made available yet, so be sure to consult the finding aid for details and/or inquire with staff prior to your visit.
Information on the Library's AV holdings
Select materials digitized for online access
Collection guides to the Library's archival holdings
Includes transcripts of oral history interviews