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Visitor Policy

Visiting Collins Hall
U.S. Army Center of Military History

Since 1998, the Center of Military History has been located in Building 35 on Fort McNair. In December 2002, the building was named Collins Hall, in memory of Brig. Gen. James L. Collins, Jr., the Chief of Military History from 1970 to 1982.

Collins Hall houses the Center's library and research collection as well as its historians, curators, editors, and archivists. The Army Art Collection is located in a separate building on 14th Street, Northwest in DC. Photo, U.S. Army Center of Military History
102 4TH AVE BLDG 35
FORT MCNAIR DC 20319-5060

Visitor Hours:

Monday through Friday
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Library is closed on Friday Afternoons.

CLOSED Weekends and Federal Holidays

Visitors: The Center of Military History welcomes public use of its reference facilities. The Center's top priority, however, always remains providing support to the Army Staff and the Army's senior leadership.

All visitors are advised to write or call the Center of Military History prior to visiting Collins Hall. Outside researchers can only work at the Center between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Upon entry to Collins Hall, please check in at the security window. The security officer will contact your POC to escort you inside.

Unfortunately, the Center is not staffed to provide dedicated customer service or support to outside researchers. The Center's historians are often away from Collins Hall conducting research or official travel. Without prior coordination, there is no guarantee that the appropriate staff member will be available. Moreover, visitors are strongly encouraged to confirm their appointments twenty-four hours in advance of their projected visit to ensure that the resource material and/or historian remains available.

Library and Research Collection: The primary function of the Collins Hall library and archives is to support the Center's historians and staff. In addition, both the library and archives provide service to the Army staff, Congress, and other governmental agencies as well as offices of the other uniformed services. While the library welcomes public use of its reference collection, its priority remains service to the Army. All outside researchers preparing to come to Collins Hall are strongly encouraged to pursue preliminary exploration in appropriate public or university libraries so that they can make efficient use of the Center's reference collections.

The Collins Hall library has a specialized collection that consists mainly of books and studies that deal with American military history. It has a strong collection of World War II, the Vietnam War, and published unit histories. For the most part, however, its holdings are similar to those of a university library with a good military history collection. The Collins Hall library does not lend its material to non-staff members.

The Center's archives support on-going staff actions and studies. The archives consist of three major types of materials. First, it has unpublished monographs and studies completed by CMH historians, including final drafts of the official histories. Second, it maintains the Command Histories for the Army's Major Commands and Corps from the mid-60s to the present. The commands' staff historians prepare these histories annually. Third, the archives retains materials collected by the various Military History Detachments that supported the historical effort for the Army's operations over the last decade and a half. Of this final category, some of the material remains sensitive and classified.

Neither the library nor the archives maintain personnel records or unit operational records. The former are maintained at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, while the latter are maintained at the National Archives and Records Administration in the DC area.

To coordinate a visit to the library or archives, outside researchers-both official and unofficial--should submit a request via email through the CMH Answers email address on this site:

Please plan well in advance. Due to limited staffing it may take a few days to respond to your request.

Organizational History Files: Outside researchers may use the working files of the Force Structure and Unit History Branch. These files contain documents and material that support the development of unit Lineage and Honors Certificates: They do not contain operational or organizational reports of a unit's participation in military campaigns and operations. Due to limited staffing, visitors who want to use these files are strongly urged to make their appointment well in advance to ensure that the appropriate historian is available to provide assistance. Branch files cannot be used without staff assistance.

Cost of Copying

For researchers who want to make copies of the materials at Collins Hall, the first 15 pages are free. After that, we charge 15 cents per page. We cannot accept cash, so we will need a check or money order made out to the Department of the Treasury.

The Center, however, allows--even encourages--researchers to use cameras or scanners to make their copies.

Fort McNair is located at 4th and P streets, SW, near the Waterfront Metro / Marina. Visitors without military decals must use the 2d Street Entrance to enter the post. All visitors will be required to show valid photo identification, and their vehicles are subject to search.


Parking on Fort McNair:

Fort McNair's parking is limited, and at times parking near Collins Hall is not possible. However, even the longest walk will be less than fifteen minutes. Please observe all parking regulations and respect reserved parking.