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RESEARCHING NASA HISTORY
HEADQUARTERS HISTORICAL REFERENCE COLLECTION RENOVATION:
The NASA HQ Historical Reference Collection (HRC) is a nearly 2000 cubic foot collection offering NASA staff and qualified researchers a glimpse into the agency's rich and vast history.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.
The renovation of the NASA Headquarters building at 300 E Street SW in Washington, DC, will reach our Historical Reference Collection (the "archive" in the basement) in November 2013. With that date in mind, we will begin packing up the collection in August. This will not only limit access to the collection, but will consume much of the time of our archival staff during packing this fall and unpacking next spring. Nearly everything in the office will be packed and stored offsite for 6-8 months. From November 2013 through April 2014 the archival staff will only be able to provide very limited reference assistance by searching the History Office digital repository. The good news is that we will have a much improved storage and work space by spring 2014. However, if you are planning to do research in the Historical Reference Collection, you should expect extremely limited access in the coming months. Check this site for periodic updates.
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 http://www.archives.gov/ 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" http://history.nasa.gov/sp4543.pdf 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 http://history.nasa.gov/centers.html
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. If you are a US citizen, please contact us several days prior to your visit to schedule an appointment. We will need your full name, address, telephone number, research topic, and dates of your visit. 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 http://history.nasa.gov/contact.html
Additionally, thousands of historic documents from the HRC have been published to https://mira.hq.nasa.gov/history/ 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. The FOIA Guide is located at http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/FOIA/guide.htm
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.
http://history.nasa.gov/prsnnl.htm Biographical and Other Personnel Information.
http://history.nasa.gov/anniv.htm Anniversary pages.
http://history.nasa.gov/timeline.html History Timelines.
http://history.nasa.gov/oralhistory/ohcatalog.htm Organizational Charts.
http://history.nasa.gov/oralhistory/ohcatalog.htm Oral History Collections.
http://history.nasa.gov/tindex.html#p Photo Collections.
http://www.nasaimages.org Internet Archive of NASA Images.
http://history.nasa.gov/tindex.html#a Audio-video Clips.
http://history.nasa.gov/nara1.html NACA/NASA Records at NARA.
http://history.nasa.gov/styleguide.html Style Guide for NASA History Authors and Editors.
http://history.nasa.gov/thinking/index.html Thinking About NASA History.
http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/hqlibrary/ NASA HQ Library.
http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/hqlibrary/find/nasadoc.htm NASA HQ Library Online Collection.
http://www.sti.nasa.gov/ NASA Scientific and Technical Information.
http://itunes.apple.com/us/institution/nasa-history-program-office/id528937610" NASA History Office Program Office on iTunes U.
Author, Jane H. Odom, Chief Archivist
Garber, NASA History Web Curator
Site design by Todd
Messer of NASA HQ Printing & Design
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