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Research Services

The Commission of Fine Arts is pleased to make its files and resources available to the public. In order to best serve you, please observe the following procedures:

Reviewing Project Files

Project files may be reviewed by appointment only during regular business hours, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday, EXCEPT on days when either the full Commission of Fine Arts or the Old Georgetown Board meets. Project files are NOT available for review the day before these meetings, as staff requires full access to the files for meeting preparation.

Requests to review files must be made in writing through mail, email or fax, for recent case files located in the Commission office. The written request must be received by the Commission staff at least two days in advance of visit. The request should include the address of the project being researched and the proposed date and time of the office visit. Researchers may initiate a request by telephone to ask questions or seek clarification about a specific project. A request made by telephone must be followed up with a written request in order to view the files. (See Contact Us for full contact information.)

Reviewing Minutes and Transcripts

The Commission of Fine Arts maintains a complete set of meeting Minutes (the official record of the meeting) from 1910 to the present. The Commission also maintains transcripts (an unofficial record of the meeting) for most meetings from 1949 to the present -- please call to verify availability of a particular date. Minutes and transcripts may be reviewed by appointment during regular business hours except on days the Old Georgetown Board and Commission of Fine Arts meetings are held. Photocopies of minutes and transcripts may be obtained upon request. (See Copying Costs.)

Minutes from January 2003 to the present are available in electronic format in our online archive.

Reproducing Documents

The Commission of Fine Arts offers broad public access to its resources - including photographs, drawings, and official government documents - as a contribution to education, scholarship, and access to public information. The submission of documents to this agency for review constitutes permission to use the documents for purposes related to the activities of the Commission, including display, reproduction, publication, or distribution. If a researcher requests reproduction of any materials, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions when publishing or distributing materials found in the Commission's collections.

Copying Costs

Payment for copying is required upon receipt of copies and the preferred method of payment is cash. We will accept payment by check only if the cost is over $10.00. We do not accept payment by credit card.

Letter, B&W

$0.50

Legal, B&W $0.75
11x17, B&W $1.00
Letter, color $0.75
Legal, color $1.00
11x17, color

$1.50


The Commission office does not have the equipment or resources to reproduce items larger than 11x17 inches (such as architectural drawings). If necessary, staff can arrange to have large format material reproduced by a third-party vendor, with the researcher assuming the cost.

Scanning and Electronic Reproduction Costs

Scans and electronic versions of images and documents in our collections are also available. The cost of scanned images is $.50 per scan. Electronic versions of documents (such as minutes or transcripts) cost $.50 per page, for documents of 100 pages or more. If electronic items are delivered on a CD, there is a $5.00 charge for the CD media. Conversely, we will accept an empty writable CD in lieu of the $5.00 charge. As with photocopies, the preferred method of payment is cash. We will accept payment by check only if the cost is over $10.00. We do not accept payment by credit card.

The Commission office does not have the equipment or resources to reproduce items larger than 11x17 inches (such as architectural drawings). If necessary, staff can arrange to have large format material reproduced by a third-party vendor, with the researcher assuming the cost.

Recordings and Transcripts of Meetings

Public meetings of the Old Georgetown Board and the Commission of Fine Arts are recorded digitally, and a written transcript is produced for the Commission meeting only. Researchers may have access to the recordings no sooner than two business days after meetings. Recordings may be reproduced, if the researcher provides a writable CD, or reimburses the Commission $5.00 for the cost of using one of our office writable CDs. To arrange to listen to, or reproduce a recording, please contact the staff.

The transcript of the full Commission meeting is available after the Minutes of that meeting are approved, usually the following month. For example, the transcript of a meeting held on 21 January 2010 would become available approximately two days after a meeting held on 18 February 2010, during which the minutes of the January meeting are approved. Transcript pages may be reproduced, per the copy policy stated above. Please note that the transcript does not constitute the official record of the meeting.

Location of Case Files

The Commission office houses recent case files for Federal and District (CFA), Shipstead-Luce (SL) and Old Georgetown (OG) projects. These case files are kept for approximately four years. All previous case files are sent to the Washington National Records Center in Suitland, Maryland and the National Archives in Washington.

Reviewing files stored at Washington National Records Center

Case files approximately four years or older are transferred to the Washington National Records Center (WNRC) in Suitland, Maryland. The Commission of Fine Arts retains legal custody of these files, though WNRC has physical custody. After ten years at WNRC, all case files are transferred to the National Archives.

Researchers may access case files stored at WNRC by going to their facility in Suitland, but the Records Officer at the Commission of Fine Arts needs to authorize access beforehand. Please contact the Records Officer at (202) 504-2200 to make arrangements. For more information see Washington National Records Center.

Reviewing files at the National Archives

Once case files have been transferred to the National Archives, the Commission no longer has legal custody, and requests to review the files must be made through the Archives. Researchers may contact the Finding Aids Room at the National Archives at (202) 357-5411. The Commission of Fine Arts case files are located in Record Group 66. Records are pulled five times daily and researchers need a research card to view the records. Research cards may be obtained in room G29. For more information, see National Archives.

Last Modified: September 20, 2010