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"Religion," mural in the North Corridor, Library of Congress Jefferson Building, by Charles Sprague Pearce, 1897.

Religion Collections in Libraries and Archives:
A Guide to Resources in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia

Table of Contents - Preface/Acknowledgements - Abbreviations
Lists of Entries: District of Columbia - Maryland - Virginia

National Archives and Records Administration

Address: National Archives Building (Archives I)
Room 405
Pennsylvania Avenue between 7th and 9th St. NW
Washington, DC 20408
National Archives at College Park (Archives II)
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
Telephone Number: (202) 501-5400 (Archives I)
(301) 837-2000 (Archives II)
Fax Number: (202) 501-7154 (Archives I)
(301) 837-0483 (Archives II)
Contact Persons: Dr. Kenneth Heger, Chief, Research Support Branch
Electronic Inquiries:
Internet Catalog Address:
(Archival Research Catalog; partial catalog only)

Access Policies

Hours of Service:
(for both Archives I and II):
Monday & Wednesday 8:45 am - 5:00 pm
Tuesday, Thursday & Friday 8:45 am - 9:00 pm
Saturday 8:45 am - 4:45 pm
Open to the public: Yes
Photocopying:: Yes
Interlibrary loan: No

Readers should write or call ahead before coming to the Archives. Researchers must be at least 16 years old. All first-time researchers must register (Room 403 in Archives I, Room 1000 in Archives II).

Paper-to-paper copies of most documents can be made on self-service copiers at a cost of 10 cents per page. Microfilm-to-paper copies are 25 cents per image. Before copying any textual records, researchers must show a staff member the original material they wish to duplicate. Researchers may use their own personal computers (laptops, notebooks, etc.), approved scanners, typewriters, tape recorders, tape decks, cameras, and other equipment in the research rooms, but cases, bags, boxes, and other enclosures must remain in lockers. Paper and pencils are provided to researchers. Audiocassette tapes and flat-bed scanners without automatic document feed must receive an approval tag from a staff member in the Researcher Registration offices before they may enter the research rooms. Personal copiers and auto-feed or hand-held scanners are not permitted.

A fax-on-demand service at (301) 713-6905 is available for some materials. For more information, consult the National Archives website; call (301) 713-6730, extension 229; or e-mail [email protected]. Some census records are available through the Microfilm Rental Program, but archival records are not available through Interlibrary loan.

Reference Policy:
The Archives accepts queries by phone, letter, and e-mail.

Borrowing Privileges:
Not a lending institution.


Background Note:
The National Archives was founded in 1934. Archives I houses textual and microfilm records relating to genealogy, American Indians, pre-World War II military and naval-maritime matters, the New Deal, the District of Columbia, the Federal courts, and Congress. There are four public research rooms: the Central Research Room (Room 203), the National Archives Library (Room 202), the Legislative Research Room (Room 204), and the Microfilm Research Room (Room 400).

The College Park facility was opened in January 1994. Records held at Archives II include maps and architectural plans; the Nixon Presidential Materials; electronic records; motion picture, sound, and video records; the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection; still pictures; the Berlin Documents Center microfilm; and textual records from most civilian agencies and military records dating from World War II. There are seven public research rooms: Textual (Floor 2); Microfilm (temporarily combined with Textual on Floor 2); Cartographic and Architectural (Floor 3); the Library (Floor 3); Motion Picture, Sound, and Video (Floor 4); Still Picture (Floor 5); and Electronic Records (Floor 6).

The items listed below are a sample of the religion-related materials available at the National Archives. The number of the record group where the items can be found is given in parentheses after each item. An estimate of the total amount of religion-related material in the Archives' collections is not possible. The use of finding aids for the various record groups, published reference sources, online catalogs such as NAIL, and consultation with reference staff is necessary to locate materials in the collections.

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Description of Collections

Archives, manuscripts, correspondence, and oral histories:
Sample materials available at the National Archives facility in Washington, D.C.:

  • 1110 cubic feet of records from the Office of the Chief of Chaplains, United States War Department (later Department of the Army), 1902-1964, including correspondence, personnel records, monthly reports, and documentation of funerals, baptisms, and marriages (Record Group 247; entire record group).
  • Records of the Chaplains Division, United States. Bureau of Navigation (under the Navy Department: correspondence, 1916-1940; biographical data, 1804-1923; miscellaneous records, 1898-1946 (Record Group 24).
  • Records of the Office of the Chaplain, Headquarters United States Army Vietnam, 1965-1973, including correspondence and reports (Record Group 472).
  • Statistical information on religion in central Europe, ca. 1919, gathered as background material for the American Commission to Negotiate Peace (Record Group 256).
  • Data on United States religious groups from the United States Census Bureau Population and Housing Division, 1926 (Record Group 29).
  • One folder of materials relating to the Native American church (Record Group 46, Box 22).
  • Petitions from churches and women's religious organizations to the Committee on Indian Affairs, ca. 1880-1900, protesting the treatment of Indians (Record Group 233, Box 143).
  • Petitions from churches and women's religious organizations to the Judiciary Committee and the Committee on the Territories, ca. 1880-1916, concerning the practice of polygamy in Utah (Record Group 233, Box 454).
  • Papers of the United States Christian Commission (private organization promoting ministry among United States soldiers), in the records of the Army Adjutant General's Office (Record Group 94).
  • Correspondence with national church organizations from the records of the Community Service Division, Office of Price Administration, 1943-1946 (Record Group 188).
  • Records of the President's Committee on Government Employment Policy (established to propose ways of ending racial and religious discrimination in federal hiring), 1955-1961 (Record Group 220).
  • Records from the Religious Affairs Branch, Education and Cultural Relations Division, Office of Military Government for Germany, 1945-1949 (Record Group 260).
  • Records relating to religious organizations in Japan from the Government Section, Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP), 1945-1952 (Record Group 331).
  • Records of the Religion and Cultural Resources Division, SCAP Civil Information and Education Division, 1945-1951, including information on religion in Japan and Christian missions (Record Group 331).

Sample of cartographic materials from the National Archives at College Park:

  • Maps denoting religious groups in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, from the records of the Geographer, United States Department of State (Record Group 59).
  • Maps depicting religion in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, 1917-1919 (Record Group 256).

Videos and Sound Recordings:
Sample of films from the Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Branch at the National Archives at College Park:

  • Black-and-white film of revivalist meetings and church services in Farmersville, California, 1962 (Record Group 381).
  • A large number of film documentaries made by the Harmon Foundation, 1931-1951. The collection includes both silent and sound films, black-and-white and color. Subjects covered include Islam, Judaism, missions in Africa and Asia, medical missions in China and India, Episcopalianism (including a documentary of a Protestant Episcopal Church convention and a history of the Church, both done in 1934), Hinduism, Native American religion, religion in Oceania, religious education, religious sites in the Middle East, Xavier University (black Catholic university in Louisiana), and Buddhism in Asia and the United States (Record Group 200).
  • Videotapes and movies from the United States Information Agency, most undated, on such subjects as Catholicism in the United States, Buddhism (including one undated film in Cambodian), and Communist persecution of religion (Record Group 306).
  • Silent footage from the United States Army Signal Corps of Catholic demonstrations in Saigon, 1966; and religious services at a military base in Thailand, 1970 (Record Group 111).
  • Unedited silent footage from the United States Navy of religious services for military personnel in the Pacific, 1943; Korea, 1951; and Vietnam, 1969 (Record Group 428).
  • 18 reels of movie footage showing the dedication of chapels and memorials honoring American war dead in Europe, 1937-1939 (Record Group 117).

    Sample of sound recordings from the Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Branch at the National Archives at College Park:

  • Programs broadcast on the Voice of America, 1964-1969, including programs on Catholic charities, Catholicism in the United States, politics and religion, Judaism, medical ethics, religion and the civil rights movement, religion and education, Daniel Berrigan, Vatican II, and other topics. There are also interviews with clergy and prominent religious figures (Record Group 306).
  • Radio programs on religion from "America's Town Meeting of the Air, 1940-1950, including discussions of the role of religion in public life (Record Group 200).
  • Radio program, "The Story of the Negro Church in New York City," April 1944, including a performance by the Abyssinian Baptist Church Young Peoples Choir (Record Group 200).
  • A speech by President Harry Truman on "Religion in American Democracy," broadcast on the Voice of America in April 1946 (Record Group 306).
  • An ABC News broadcast of President Richard Nixon and Billy Graham discussing religion, May 1970 (Record Group 306).

Paintings, photographs, slides, and prints:
Sample of materials from the Still Pictures Branch, National Archives at College Park:

  • Approximately 200 photographs of churches from throughout the United States from 1972 to 1977, from the over 15,000 photographs taken as part of the Environmental Protection Agency's DOCUMERICA program recording environmentally sensitive areas (Record Group 412).
  • Color slides of Vietnamese Buddhist temples and statuary, 1968-1972, forming part of the records of the Army Surgeon General's Office (Record Group 112).
  • Photographs of Ceylonese temples, pagodas, and nuns, ca. 1945, from the records of the Office of Strategic Services field station in Kandy, Ceylon (Record Group 226).
  • Four black-and-white photographs of churches and missions in New Mexico taken by Ansel Adams in the early 1940s as part of series of images of national parks and monuments (Record Group 79).
  • Lantern slides taken or acquired by Army photographer Nathaniel L. Dewell, 1911-1918, including pictures of English churches and Italian cathedrals (Record Group 106)
  • Photographs of German cathedrals, churches, and religious statuary damaged during World War II, taken as part of a 1946-1947 survey undertaken by the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Branch of the Office of Military Government for Germany (Record Group 260).
  • Photographs of churches and religious services patronized by workers on the Montana Reclamation Project, 1905-1931 (Record Group 115)
  • Photographs of Washington D.C. church interiors, 1894-1899, part of a series of photographs of the Washington area (Record Group 200).
  • A series of 572 portraits of United States Navy Chaplains, 1799-1941 (Record Group 24). *12 photographs of Navy religious facilities, 1930-1940 (Record Group 24).
  • About 1000 photographs of religious services at and near Civilian Conservation Corps camps in Kentucky, 1935-42 (Record Group 35).
  • Photographs of churches from the records of the Commission of Fine Arts, 1893-1960 (Record Group 66).
  • Photographs of churches in rural and urban areas from the records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, ca. 1922 and 1955 (Record Group 75).
  • Photographs of churches from the records of the Rural Electrification Administration, 1936-1964 (Record Group 221).

Subject Headings

Berrigan, Daniel, 1921- ; Buddhism; Cathedrals; Catholic Church--United States; Church buildings; Hinduism; Indians of North America--Religion; Islam; Judaism; Military chaplains; Missions and missionaries; Protestant Episcopal Church; Radio in religion; Religion--United States--Statistics; Religion and politics; United States Army--Religious life; United States Navy--Religious life; Vatican II Council


National Archives and Records Administration [Online]. Available HTTP. URL November 5, 1996; redesigned 2002.

United States. National Archives and Records Administration. Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette with Anne B. Eales, et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.

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