"The Heritage of the Past is the Seed that Brings Forth the Harvest of the Future" reads the carving on one of the stone statues flanking the National Archives Building. These words reflect the purpose of the National Archives--to hold in trust the permanently valuable records of the Federal government for the use of citizens and scholars alike. The National Archives acquires, preserves, and makes available for research records of enduring value created or received by all three branches of the federal government. The National Archives also accepts donations of related materials, particularly in the audiovisual field.
Since 1934 when the National Archives was established by an act of Congress, it has initiated numerous programs to fulfill its mandate. These include a technically advanced preservation laboratory with a highly trained staff, which works to preserve billions of pieces of paper and millions of still and moving pictures; an aggressive microfilming program which preserves heavily used materials in order to make them more widely available to the public; and exhibitions of original documents and workshops produced by education experts at the National Archives to disseminate information to casual visitors and classrooms about the American documentary heritage.
This cooperative project planned by the National Park Service and the National Archives is yet another avenue to increase accessibility. Information on Civil War veterans has long been a primary interest to millions of Americans. The National Archives receives nearly 1,500 inquiries each week relating to pension files of Civil War veterans. This project-to make vital information about Civil War veterans electronically available-- could have an enormous impact on students, scholars, and genealogists interested in the Civil War.
The National Archives views this project as an invaluable research tool to encourage historical inquiry and as an invaluable preservation tool to diminish the use of original records. Not only can thousands of man-hours be freed for other archival duties, the documents can then be protected from handling and thereby be better preserved for future generations.
Visit the National Archives' website: https://www.archives.gov