Research

Policies and Procedures


  • What kind of research and reference services does the Library offer?

    • On-Site 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.
    • 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.
  • Who may use the Library’s research collections?

    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.
  • Do I need to make an appointment and/or can I ask that materials be pulled in advance?

    • On-Site 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. If you proceed to make an appointment following the consultation, material will be pulled in advance of your appointment.
    • 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.
  • What may I bring with me when doing onsite research?

  • On what topics does the Library have materials?

    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.

    See Collections and Books, as well as our Frequently Requested page, for additional information regarding the Library’s holdings.

  • How do I find the information or records that I need?

    The Library’s website has a great deal of information regarding Collections and Books, as well as Frequently Requested material and/or topics.

    The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum is part of the National Archives and Records Administration; therefore, the majority of the Library’s holdings are also described in the National Archives Catalog (NAC). You can filter your search results by Location—select “Jimmy Carter Library” to refine your results. It is recommended that you keep track of any search results of interest in whatever method works best for you; however, we do recommend that you at the very least keep track of the National Archives Identifier (NAID) for any relevant results so that staff can easily retrieve the same results when assisting you with a request.

    The American Presidency Project and the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series are additional external resources of note.

    You can also Ask An Archivist—let us know what kind of initial research you have done prior to your inquiry so that we can be of better assistance.

  • Are all of the historical materials open to research?

    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.

  • How can I request that donor-restricted materials be released for research?

    Please consult the following guidance: Appeal of Donor Restrictions. To submit your request, Ask An Archivist using our Contact form.

  • How can I request declassification of materials?

    The Jimmy Carter Library’s Mandatory Declassification Review (MDR) program allows researchers to seek declassification of specific items under Executive Order 13526.

    Material might be unavailable in whole or in part for reasons of national security; in these instances, you can request the item be reviewed via MDR. Staff can provide you with a Presidential Libraries Mandatory Review Request form, NA Form 14020. The requested documents or file units should be individually identified by the requester with sufficient specificity to the extent possible; archival staff should be able to locate the items with reasonable effort based on the information provided. List items from one folder only on each request form and complete sections I, II, and III on the form. In some collections, such as the Records of the National Security Advisor, there are still significant amounts of material to be processed.

    For onsite requests, return the completed forms to the research room attendant. If you are not conducting research onsite and would like to submit an MDR request, please submit the request to us via our Contact form and select via Ask An Archivist.

    Library staff will strive to have your declassification request submitted as soon as possible after receipt of your completed request forms. Requests are submitted to federal agencies (as applicable) for review. Please be advised there currently is a backlog of requests. If a document has been exempted from declassification in whole or in part within the past two years, it will not be submitted for re-review at this time.

    Once the request is processed and responses given, you will be notified of the outcome of the review, i.e. whether the requested documents were released-in-full, released-in-part, and/or denied in full.

    To learn more about your appeal rights under MDR, please visit ISCAP.

  • How can I order copies of textual materials?

    Copies/scans produced by archival staff are $0.80 per page with a minimum charge of $15.00. Please do not pay in advance of billing.

    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 send any inquiries to us via our Contact form by selecting the Ask An Archivist option. Your request will be forwarded to the Audiovisual Department for handling and discussion of fees.

    Self-service copies made on-site are not available at this time.

  • Can I file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for material in the Library?

    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

  • How do I cite archival material from the Library?

    It is important that researchers employ an adequate form of citation so that materials can be relocated easily. Regardless of footnote style, citations typically should contain the following elements:

    • Type of document (e.g. memo, letter, cable, report, etc.)
    • Names of sender and recipient or title of document, as applicable
    • Date of document
    • Folder title
    • Box Number (note: box numbers sometimes change and items should never be identified only by box number)
    • Collection title (You can also note any sub-series, as applicable)
    • Jimmy Carter Library
    • National Archives Identifier (NAID) if the item was located as a digital object via the National Archives Catalog
  • Can you appraise/authenticate something for me?

    The Jimmy Carter Library and Museum does not appraise nor authenticate historical materials, artwork, or political memorabilia. For information about appraisals and appraiser referrals, you can check the websites for the American Society of Appraisers, the Appraisers Association of American, and the International Society of Appraisers.

  • How do I access declassified documents via the CREST system?

    A portion of declassified Carter presidential papers were previously accessible in electronic format through an independent CREST computer system, located in the Research Room of the Carter Library. (This system has also been referred to as the RAC or Remote Archives Capture system.) In July 2016 this service was removed due to a system malfunction and is no longer being supported. However, raw copies of the files remain available to staff as we diligently work to make declassified records widely accessible to the public. To request copies of those files and an invoice of associated costs, please contact us via email at Carter.Library@nara.gov and use “CREST Copies” as the subject.

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