Announcing NARA’s Digitization Priorities

We asked! You told us!

A few weeks ago, we asked the public for suggestions and feedback about NARA’s digitization priorities to help us develop an agency-wide priority list.  This list will guide the work of the digitization program over the next couple of years. After putting out that call, responses flooded into us with comments here on NARAtions, emails to, and votes left in our first ever online town hall on Crowd Hall. We were excited by all of the responses and it was fun and interesting to see what you, the public, wanted to see NARA digitize.

Overwhelmingly, people asked us to digitize records of genealogical interest, including immigration and ethnic heritage records; military and veterans records, especially those from World War I and II; and, of course, records that had preservation concerns. People also suggested that we digitize records that relate to specific research themes, including diplomatic relations, law enforcement, and intelligence. When specific records were cited, we assessed the feasibility of digitizing those records and adding them to the list. In one case, the public demand for the “Helper Files” in RG 498, Records of Headquarters, European Theater of Operations, U.S. Army (WWII), was so great that those records were added to the list. I am happy to report that staff has already started to digitize those records and they will be available in the National Archives Catalog in a few months, if not earlier.

Public feedback – and public use of our records – was an important factor in determining what was included in the agency-wide digitization priority list. Many of the topics and broad themes that were publicly suggested are evident in the list, representing a broad range of materials that will enable NARA to further engage with our researchers online. We are excited about sharing the priority list with you and increasing the online availability of our holdings over the next few years.

The following represents our top priorities – it is by no means the entire list of what we would like to digitize over time; however, these projects will be our primary focus over the next 18-24 months. Please note, list order does not reflect order in which projects will be undertaken.

RG/Coll.              Title

Multiple                  Microfilm Publications
Multiple                  Records from Anchorage, Alaska Facility
Multiple                  Records from the William J. Clinton Library
Multiple                  Records of the U.S House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, 1789-1817
(records from the first 14 Congresses)
Multiple                  Treasure Vault Materials at National Archives at College Park (A2)
Multiple                  War Time Films and Photographs
RN-WHT                Nixon White House Tapes
JFKCO                     John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection
65                             Headquarter Files Pertaining to the Assassination of Martin Luther
21                              All Naturalization Records
21                              Bankruptcy Dockets (within certain parameters)
26/36                        Seamen Records / Crew Lists
24                              Naval Muster Rolls
24                              Logbooks of U.S. Navy Ships, 1801-1940
24                              Logbooks of U.S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941-1978
24                              Bureau of Naval Personnel Casualty Case Cards, 1964-1977
129                            Inmate Case Files (Leavenworth) – first 10,000 case files only
226                            Office of Strategic Services Personnel Files, 1942-1945
59                              Department of State Name Index, 1910-1959
59                              Department of State Central Decimal Files, 1910-1929
15                              Case Files of Disapproved Pension Applications of Veterans of the
Army and the Navy Who Served Mainly in the Civil War and the War
with Spain, 1861-1934
15                              Case Files of Disapproved Pension Applications of Widows and Other
Dependents of Veterans of the Army and Navy, 1861-1934
109                           Record Books of Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Offices of the
Confederate Government, 1874-1899
498                          Helper Files, ca. 1945 – 1947 – 19 series/multiple countries
407                           World War II Operations Reports, 1940-1948
29                             1950 Census Enumeration District Maps
373                           German Flown Aerial Photography, 1939-1945
145/114                   Indexes for Aerial Photography of Agricultural Stabilization and
Conservation Service, 1934-1954 / Indexes for Aerial Photography of
the Soil Conservation Service, 1934-1954
210                            Drawings of Relocation Centers, 1942-1945
111                            Signal Corps Photographs of American Military Activity, 1918-1981
80                             General Photographic File of the Department of Navy, 1943-1958

If you have any questions about the digitization priority list, please email

9 thoughts on “Announcing NARA’s Digitization Priorities

  1. I will send a flash drive of my large SITES Exhibition that was inspired by the 3rd Earth Day (April, 1972). I received grants to record one of the last midwestern ecosystems, the tallgrass prairies of Kansas (The last intact site of any size now managed by Kansas State University) which when launched by truck in 1976 (the Bicentennial Year) traveled for 10 years 1976 – 1986 to all 50 states then retired to KSU. After 40 years it has been re-discovered and digitalized. The area is now called the Konza Prairie after the Native American Tribe that lived there — now the tribe is extinct. do not forget what a meaningful time the Earth Days were and are. See Gaylord Nelson, Congressman, quotes.

  2. It’s great to hear that people are interested in leaving their feedback for this scheme, and also that you are taking these views seriously. I am of agreement that the most important records concern military records and also records relating to the movement of people into and out of the country, and movements within the US. Of vital importance is the accuracy of digitization. Once this is assured, the project is much more valuable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *