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One of the major projects undertaken by the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution at the time of the commemoration of its fiftieth anniversary celebration in 1940-1941 was the creation of a collection of early American manuscripts and imprints. For the fifty-year period prior to this Golden Jubilee celebration no formal collection of such material had existed at the National Society. Rather, early American manuscripts and imprints lay scattered among the holdings of the DAR Library and the DAR Museum.

The nucleus of the collection formed in 1940 was material culled from the Society's own library and museum. The first home for the newly created collection was in the "Repository of Americana and Historic Documents Pertaining to the American Revolution," located on the ground level of Memorial Continental Hall in a semi-circular room under the thirteen marble pillars on the C Street side of the building. When the addition to the NSDAR Administration Building was planned later in the 1940s, provision was made for the construction of a special climate controlled Americana Room to house the Americana Collection permanently.

With a proper home and an active collecting policy, the collection has flourished. After seventy-five years, more than 4,000 accessions compose the collection.

Originally housed with the Americana Collection, the NSDAR Archives was recognized as a separate collection beginning in the early 1980s.  Historian General Mary D. Williams reported to Congress each year during the Shelby Administration (1980-1983) on the necessity of maintaining a repository for the Society’s records, what material should be included, and the progress of efforts to establish the archives.  The archives moved to its permanent home on the lower level of the Administration Building in 1983.  In recent years, inventories of the NSDAR Archives Objects Collection and Photographs Collection were completed, the architectural drawings were scanned and digitized, and the complete collection was catalogued electronically.