Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Navy Archives Policies

Collections Access

The Navy Archives is open to all researchers. Unclassified collections will be made available to researchers after processing has been completed. The use of some records is restricted due to information that is exempted from release under the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552, as amended) or due to it being classified. Classified collections are available to the extent allowed by the requestor’s security clearance and need-to-know as defined by Department of Navy (DON) security requirements. The Archives Branch does not control or manage the Executive Order 129584 (Declassification Procedures); therefore, any requests for classified documents are subject to the DON declassification procedures and timeline.

Copyright and Citations

  • It is the responsibility of the researcher to comply with all copyright provisions.
  • The scanning of commercially published books and other non-government publications is prohibited during the life of their copyright protection.
  • Personal papers collections often contain numerous copyright holders. Scanning from personal papers collections will be limited to those materials for which the donor held copyright and has transferred it to the Naval History and Heritage Command and those whose copyrights have expired. Scanned photographs or documents from personal papers collections may not be reproduced in print or online without permission from the Archives Branch.
  • Official government photographs and documents are in the public domain and may be scanned and reproduced in print or online. They may be cropped or resized, but their content may not be altered. It is requested that any photograph or document used in print or online credit the Archives, in the form:

Folder title, Box number, Collection, Archives Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, DC

Donations Policy

The Navy Archives reflects the diverse history of The United States Navy through the acquisition of relevant historical materials. The Navy Archives actively acquires manuscript collections that document the history of the United States Navy from its inception to the present day. 

What the Archives Collects:

  • Manuscript collections, also known as personal papers or donated collections, are generated, collected, and/or maintained by an individual or family or organization. These types of collections are often a mix of media formats and may include published and unpublished materials.
  • The collections can include originals of correspondence, diaries, notebooks, speeches, draft publications, research or reference files, scrapbooks, audio/visual materials, maps, drawings, plans, oral histories, financial or organizational records, electronic documents, and ephemera.   
  • Manuscript collections can sometimes contain non-record copies of U.S. Navy documents that were created, acquired, collected, compiled, or received by an individual or organization as part of their work or research. The Archives branch staff will investigate the origin of any federal record material that is offered by donation to the Archives. 

The Archives branch staff will consider all donation offers on their own merits with particular attention to the content, context, and historical significance of the materials. The Navy Archives will only accept materials that are provided with a clear and documented provenance.

Steps to donate your collection to the Textual Archive:

  • Download and complete the Textual Archive Donation Proposal Worksheet (PDF, 131kb).

  • If possible, take several digital photographs of the images in the collection in order to give staff a representative example of what is being offered as a donation.

  • Email BOTH the completed form and the digital photographs to the Archives at: (Include “Donation” in the subject line).

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Archives at 202-433-3224 or

Reference Services

The Archives staff can provide limited remote reference services for those who are not able to visit us in person. Our primary mission is to support the Department of the Navy, DOD, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. All other requests will be handled in the order received and as staff time allows.  Please be advised that there may be delays depending on the number of requests received and the current workload.  Unfortunately, we are not able to undertake large-scale research projects. For reference requests received from the general public, searches conducted by our staff will be limited to one hour per request.

Before contacting us, we highly recommend reading through our Reference FAQs.

Deck Log Access

For more information on the deck logs maintained by the Navy Archives, the deck logs maintained by other repositories, and how to request copies of deck logs, please visit our Deck Log Access page

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The Navy Archives is only able to provide limited amounts of photocopies/scans to those who are not able to visit us in person. We limit each requester to 100 pages per month. For larger requests that cannot be fulfilled by the Archives staff, the general public has the option to submit a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Please note that you may be charged a fee for this service.


For remote reference requests, there is no charge for photocopies or scans of documents.  Please note - we will provide no more than 100 pages per month per requester

When conducting research in person, the Navy Archives has a policy for the use of personal scanners.  You can find more information on that policy on our Scanning, Copyright, & Citation page.   

Published: Thu Mar 18 12:44:29 EDT 2021