Research Guides

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.

Textual Records

The Barack Obama Presidential Library holds more than 30 million pages of textual Presidential records from the Executive Office of the President (EOP).

Audiovisual Records

The Barack Obama Presidential Library holds over 600 cubic feet of audiovisual recordings and the 3 million digital photographs created by the White House Photo Office. The audiovisual holdings predominantly include materials from President Obama's time in the White House, many of which are already available in the public domain. View the Audiovisual Records page for more information.

Please contact the Office of Barack and Michelle Obama for information on pre-and post-presidential audiovisual records.

Electronic Records

NARA's Electronic Records Archive (ERA) system stores and processes electronic records from the Barack Obama Administration. The Executive Office of the President (EOP-ERA) version of the system exclusively stores unclassified Presidential records, such as emails and shared drive files.

Over 250 TB of records were ingested into EOP-ERA at the close of the Obama Administration, including:

  • Over 300 million e-mail messages
  • Over 3 million digital photographs
  • Over 30 million other electronic records

These electronic records are preserved within EOP-ERA in groups called Search and Access Sets (SAS). Records are included in a SAS based on the system that originally created the records. SAS includes data created by electronic data systems used for email management, photograph organization, visitor records, scheduling, and other functions.

EOP-ERA also contains files from hard drives on White House computers, including home drives maintained by individual staffers and shared drives used across White House offices. Hard drives are organized by the White House component, and thereunder by individual offices or staff members:

  • CEA (Council of Economic Advisers)
  • EXR (Executive Residence)
  • NSC (National Security Council)
  • OA (Office of Administration)
  • PIAB (President’sIntelligence Advisory Board)
  • WHO (White House Office): This drive contains the majority of the offices that have not already been named, including (but not limited to) Chief of Staff, Domestic Policy Council, Office of the First Lady, Speechwriting, Press Office, etc.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Finding Aids 

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides any person the statutory right to request information from executive branch agencies of the U.S. Government. The right of access is subject to nine statutory FOIA exceptions. These exemptions give agencies the authority to withhold records in whole or part. The Presidential Records Act (PRA) governs the official records of the President created or received after January 20, 1981. The PRA allows for public access to Presidential records through FOIA beginning five years after the end of a Presidents administration. However, the PRA allows the President to invoke as many as six specific restrictions on public access for up to 12 years. Barack Obama's presidential records became subject to FOIA requests on January 20, 2022. 

Finding Aids are research tools that help a user find information in a specific record group, collection, or series of archival materials. Examples of Finding Aids include published and unpublished inventories, containers and folder lists, card catalogs, calendars, indexes, registers, and institutional guides. 

Access to Obama Presidential Records

Obama presidential records are stored and preserved by the National Archives. However, they are NOT accessible to the public. NARA is working to digitize the textual records as quickly as possible. Textual records are scanned in their original order and organized by folder. Researchers will still 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).

Additional Resources

The Obama Administration

Research

  • The American Presidency Project
    A project of the University of California - Santa Barbara, the American Presidency Project provides a searchable interface for presidential materials from George Washington to Barack Obama.
  • The Miller Center of Public Affairs
    The Miller Center of Public Affairs, part of the University of Virginia, maintains an online collection of biographies, essays, exhibits, oral histories, speeches, photographs, and oral histories about the U.S. presidential administrations.
  • Gov Info, Government Printing Office
    Online access to official Federal resources from all three branches of the Federal Government published by the U.S. Government Printing Office.
  • Congress.gov
    Formerly known as THOMAS, the website for Congress includes a search engine for legislative information including bills and resolutions, calendars, and the Congressional Record.
  • White House Historical Association
    The White House Historical Association provides insight into the cultural significance of the White House itself, with online exhibits on traditions, furnishings, and holidays,  plus biographies of the First Families.
  • CIA FOIA Electronic Reading Room
    The Central Intelligence Agency’s electronic, searchable library of documents has been released through FOIA requests.
  • Department of State, Office of the Historian
    The Office of the Historian of the State Department provides a chronological list of presidential and Secretary of State travel, visits from foreign leaders, and more.
  • Foreign Relations of the U.S. (FRUS)
    Compiled by the Department of State, the “FRUS” series is the official historical record of U.S. foreign policy and diplomatic activity.

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

  • Archives.gov
    NARA’s main website includes an overview of policies and lists of records available for research, lesson plans and other resources for educators, and information about the NARA facilities across the country.
  • National Archives Catalog
    NARA’s online catalog enables researchers to search for descriptions of NARA’s records and provides online access to collections that have been digitized.
  • The Center for Legislative Archives
    The Center for Legislative Archives is the branch of NARA responsible for preserving and processing the records of the US Congress.

Materials not held at the Obama Presidential Library

Campaign and Transition Materials

As per the Presidential Records Act (PRA), campaign and transition records are considered "personal records" rather than "presidential records." Campaign and transition materials are NOT included in our collection. For more information on the PRA, including an in-depth description of what is and is not considered records, view the PRA guide here.

Citations 

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