n. (abbr. NARA)an independent federal agency possessing primary responsibility for managing the records of all three branches of the United States federal government, for providing guidance to federal agencies on records management policies and practices, for authorizing the disposition of federal records, for storing federal records, and for preserving records of permanent historical value to the United States in both federal archives and presidential librariesNARA 2019Anyone who has cleaned out a family attic knows the importance of keeping family records. You may have military records from relatives who served in one of the World Wars—or even the Civil War. Or pictures of your great-great grandparents on the day they became American citizens. Or the canceled check that paid for your first home. ¶ Now imagine the task of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)—the nation’s record keeper.
Established in 1934 as the National Archives, the agency was renamed the National Archives and Records Service (NARS) when it was made part of the General Services Administration (1949–1984). The new name reflected expanded responsibility for current records as well as archives, which was clarified by the Federal Records Act of 1950. The National Archives again attained independence as an agency in October 1984 (effective April 1, 1985), when it became known as the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).