Accessing Archive Center Collections

Online Access

Archive Center collections can be accessed online in a variety of ways:

Smithsonian Online Virtual Archives (SOVA) is a public database that contains records for archives, manuscript, and photograph collections found across the Smithsonian. A complete list of NMAI Archive Center collection-level descriptions and finding aids and digitized collections is available through SOVA. New finding aids and digitized content are added as they become available. The following are noteworthy collections with finding aids available through SOVA:

Smithsonian Collections Search Center contains all materials across the Smithsonian, including: archival collections, library materials, objects and material culture, blog posts, and video content. Archive Center collections, including a selection of digitized photographs, can also be found in the Smithsonian Collections Search Center.

Smithsonian Transcription Center is a crowdsourcing project where digital volunteers transcribe historic documents and collections records. A small selection of Archive Center material has been added to the Transcription Center. Once transcribed, the material is then text-searchable in the Smithsonian Collections Search Center.


The Archive Center is in the NMAI Cultural Resources Center (CRC) in Suitland, Maryland, approximately six miles southeast of the National Mall. Free parking is available at the CRC. The CRC can also be reached via Metrorail; it is a 10–15-minute walk from the Suitland Station. In addition, the Smithsonian operates a free hourly shuttle bus service between the NMAI on the National Mall and the CRC.

The Archive Center is open to researchers by appointment only. Appointments must be scheduled a minimum of five business days in advance. To schedule an onsite research appointment at the Archive Center, email