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National Archives construction, photograph, 1934

Designed by architect John Russell Pope, the Washington, D.C., National Archives building took more than seven years to complete. It houses government records, some dating back to the nation’s founding, including the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.


Records of the Public Buildings Service, National Archives and Records Administration

National Archives construction

Creation of the National Archives

Congress created the National Archives in 1934 to preserve and maintain the records of the federal government, which previously were stashed in various storage spaces without adequate security, organization, or climate control. Archivists surveyed the records of Congress and other federal institutions and in 1936 began transferring them to a new National Archives building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Today the National Archives comprises more than 40 facilities nationwide, including regional archives, records centers, and presidential libraries.

This building holds in trust the records of our national life and symbolizes our faith in the permanency of our national institutions.

Inscription, National Archives Building