Frequently Asked Research Questions

Notice to NARA Researchers and FOIA Requesters
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of our staff.  As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgment as well as a substantive response to your reference or FOIA request or appeal.  We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.  Read more on how NARA is addressing COVID-19 (coronavirus) https://www.archives.gov/coronavirus.

Are the Barack Obama presidential records available for research?

Obama presidential records became subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests on January 20, 2022. Guidance and tips on submitting FOIA requests can be found here


How can I access the records?

The textual (paper) Obama presidential records are stored and preserved by the National Archives, but they are not accessible to the public. NARA is digitizing the textual records as quickly as possible. Textual records will be scanned in their original order and organized by folder, so researchers will still be able to read the documents in their correct context.

Records (both digitized and born-digital) will be made available for research via the Obama Library website and the National Archives Catalog (NAC)


How can I request records not yet available for public research?

Anyone may request access to presidential records not yet available for public research by submitting a written Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Guidance and tips on submitting FOIA requests can be found here.


What are classified and closed records?

While NARA’s goal is to provide as much access to records as possible, certain records must be withheld for restrictions/exemptions outlined in the Presidential Records Act (PRA), as amended, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) including national security information, confidential advice, and personal privacy. Researchers are alerted to the exemption of records or portions of records from release by withdrawal markers which provide the reason(s) why the information has been withheld and/or redacted.


Can I appeal the closure of records restricted under the PRA and FOIA?

Yes. Original requesters may file an appeal challenging the status of records closed under the provisions of the PRA and/or FOIA.

 


Can I request declassification of national security information?

Yes. All national security records responsive to a FOIA request will be reviewed. Any records restricted under the national security provisions of the PRA and FOIA are eligible for a declassification review.

Researchers may also file a Mandatory Declassification Review (MDR) request for specific national security classified records.  Guidance and tips on submitting MDR requests can be found here.


How does copyright law affect my research?

The United States Copyright Law (P.L. 94-553) provides statutory protection for the authors or producers of original works. The copyright law gives the author and his or her heirs the sole right of publication for the term of the copyright. The use of copyrighted material requires the permission of the holder of the copyright. Permission to reproduce copyrighted materials contained in the holdings of the Obama Presidential Library must be obtained from the copyright holder.

Researchers with specific questions about the copyright law should obtain legal advice. (Federal employees are not authorized to provide guidance with regard to copyright laws.)

The copyright law does not apply to material in the public domain or material produced by government employees in the course of their official duties.


How do I cite materials from records?

Guidelines for citations for records retrieved from the Barack Obama Presidential Library can be found here.


Who should I contact if I am interested in Vice President Joe Biden’s official records?

Vice President Joe Biden’s records are housed at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC. For more information on the records of the Vice President Biden please contact the Archival Operations Division:

Archival Operations Division - Vice Presidential Materials
National Archives and Records Administration
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, Room G-7
Washington, DC 20408
presidential.materials@nara.gov
Fax: (202) 357-5941


How can I research the records of other Presidents?

The National Archives administers 14 other Presidential Libraries - from Herbert Hoover to Donald Trump. Contact information is available on the Presidential Libraries section of the National Archives’ website.

The National Archives provides a list of online resources on the Presidents, including the special project Founders Online, which provides digital access to over 176,000 documents from the Founding Fathers.

The Library of Congress also maintains archival collections of other Presidential papers.  Additionally, there are other Presidential Libraries outside the National Archives system which are privately operated.


Have President or Mrs. Obama written any books?

President Obama published his first book, Dreams From my Father:  A Story of Race and Inheritance, in 1995.  His second book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, was published in 2006, which was followed by a children’s book, Of Thee I Sing:  A Letter to my Daughters, in 2010.  In late 2020, President Obama published a memoir titled A Promised Land.

Mrs. Obama wrote her first book while she was serving as First Lady.  American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America was published in 2012.  She followed-up with Becoming, a memoir, in 2019.


When can I visit the Obama Presidential Center?

The Obama Foundation is constructing the Obama Presidential Center on Chicago’s South Side in Jackson Park.   The Center will be a privately operated, non-federal organization. For the most current information on the Obama Presidential Center, visit their website at www.obama.org.


How do I write to President Barack Obama?

President and Mrs. Obama do not maintain an office at the Library. 

Submit general requests (including requests for congratulatory or retirement letters), scheduling requests, or media inquiries through the Office of Barack and Michelle Obama official website: www.barackobama.com .

Send any physical correspondence for President and Mrs. Obama to the following address:

Office of Barack and Michelle Obama
P.O. Box 91000
Washington, DC 20066
(NOTE: Mail addressed to President or Mrs. Obama that is delivered to the Barack Obama Presidential Library will be returned to the sender.)

How do I submit an invitation for President Obama to speak to my organization?

Scheduling for both President and Mrs. Obama is handled by the Office of Barack and Michelle Obama.  Submit scheduling requests through the Office of Barack and Michelle Obama official website: www.barackobama.com .

Send any physical correspondence for President and Mrs. Obama to the following address:

Office of Barack and Michelle Obama
P.O. Box 91000
Washington, DC 20066
(NOTE: Mail addressed to President or Mrs. Obama that is delivered to the Barack Obama Presidential Library will be returned to the sender.)

Where can I find information about the Obama Foundation?

The Foundation can be contacted at:

Barack Obama Foundation
5235 S. Harper Ct., Suite 1140

Chicago, IL 60615

Twitter: @obamafoundation

Specific questions can be submitted to the Obama Foundation through their website at www.obama.org/contact-us/.