Research at the National Archives

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What's Online?

For more information on NARA's cartographic holdings

Cartographic and Architectural Records

Where Records are Located

Washington, DC Area

The holdings of the Cartographic and Architectural Section in College Park, Maryland, include over 15 million maps, charts, aerial photographs, architectural drawings, patents, and ships plans, constituting one of the world's largest accumulations of such documents. These holdings are arranged in 190 record groups, which reflect the origins of the records in specific federal departments and agencies. On-site researchers may examine these records and finding aids in the Cartographic and Architectural Research Room.

  • Holdings of the Special Media Archives Services Division's Cartographic and Architectural unit at College Park relate primarily to the official functions of the Federal Government.
  • Architectural and engineering drawings relate almost exclusively to structures and equipment built by or for the Federal Government.
  • Holdings are arranged by the Federal offices that created or accumulated the records.
  • Maps that predate the Federal Government and 19th century maps of areas outside the United States are rare among the unit's holdings.

Regional Archives

We do not have cartographic and architectural records online, but you may contact the Regions for information about their holdings. Also see each region's Guide to Archival Holdings, which are online and linked to from the Finding Aids page.

Presidential Libraries

Select cartographic and architectural materials are also held by some of the Presidential Libraries. In general, these holdings pertain to the specific Presidential administration, and are not individually described. For further information on such holdings please contact the Presidential Libraries directly:

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Online Resources for information about the records and where to find them

Cartographic and Architectural unit Materials

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Archival Research Catalog (ARC)

Limit of Territory Controlled by U.S. Forces, Novr. 1864, 11/1864. ARC ID: 305453

Archival Research Catalog (ARC): The ARC database can be used to search by media type and by subject.
  • At this time, descriptions of a small number of aerial photographs, architectural and engineering drawings, maps and charts, and satellite images are available through ARC. The majority of the descriptions are from the Cartographic and Architectural unit of the Special Media and Archives Division, located at the National Archives at College Park.

    Most Cartographic and Architectural records identified in the Archival Research Catalog (ARC) are described at the series level rather than the item level. A series may contain one individual item or thousands of items. The Cartographic and Architectural staff plans to add more information at the item level, but very few ARC series will ever include lists of individual items.

    The items digitized under NARA's Electronic Access Project, and viewable through ARC, represent only a small sampling from the much larger universe of Cartographic and Architectural holdings.

  • The Regional Archives have a small number of maps and charts or architectural and engineering drawings described in ARC.
Search Hint:
  • Go to the ARC basic search screen.
  • Select "Architectural and Engineering Drawings," "Photographs and Graphic Materials," "Maps and Charts," and/or "Satellite Images" from the Type filter box.
  • Press the "Go" button.
  • You may limit your search further by entering keywords in the Keywords boxes. If you wish you may also limit search by specific NARA Location by selecting one or more from the NARA Location filter box.
Search ARC

See additional resources for Geography and Maps from the Archives Library Information Center (ALIC).

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The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001
Telephone: 1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272