Record Access and Obtaining Copies

I. Obtaining Copies of Documents

The fee for copy work is $.50 per page, which must be paid in advance of the service. Copy work may be requested in person, by phone, or by mail.

To request copies by phone: Call the appropriate divisional office (shown here): You will need to provide a case name and/or number and, if known, a document number. The Clerk's Office will calculate the cost and notify you by phone so you can arrange payment.

To request copies by mail: Send letters of request to the appropriate divisional office (shown here): Your request should include a case name and/or number, document number if known, your name, and daytime telephone number. If you know the number of pages, you should submit a check for the cost. If you do not know the number of pages, the cost of the copies will be calculated and you will be notified by phone. Payment must be made prior to the copies being prepared and mailed.

II. Access to Closed Court Records

For more than 50 years, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and its predecessors have provided comprehensive records management services to the Federal Government. The first Federal Records Center (FRC) opened in 1950. Since then, the NARA Federal Records Center system has grown into a national network of 17 regional facilities, storing and providing access to over 25 million cubic feet of records.

Closed records for the Southern District of West Virginia are shipped for storage to two facilities in Philadelphia, PA. Both facilities house closed records for federal courts in DE, MD, PA, VA and WV. Our court’s records that were retired before 1972, with some exceptions, are stored at the Regional Archives facility on Market Street. Our court’s records that were retired after 1972, with some exceptions, are stored at the Mid-Atlantic Region’s Federal Records Center on Townsend Road.

You may retrieve court records stored at the facilities in three ways:

Order case records for review through the Clerk’s Office: Upon your request and receipt of the retrieval fee, the Clerk’s Office will order closed case records housed at either facility and request shipment to one of our divisional offices for review at our public counter. Please note that the retrieval fee applies to each case record and does not include the cost of any copies you may request. Click here for details.

Order copies of closed case records directly through the NARA: Upon your request and receipt of the fees, the NARA will copy a closed case record (not specific documents) or a set of documents preselected by the NARA (e.g., criminal preselected documents include the commitment/probation order and the indictment) housed at either facility. Requests may be made by submitting an NARA Order for Copies of Civil Cases or an NARA Order for Copies of Criminal Cases via fax or mail, via telephone, or online. Click here for details.

Review a closed case record by visiting the Regional Archives Facility on Market Street: If you are in the area, you may review a closed case record by visiting the Regional Archives Facility on Market Street, where you may obtain a copy of specific documents from the record. Click here for details.

NOTE: As of 6/30/2011, the Mid-Atlantic Region’s Federal Records Center (FRC) located on Townsend Road in Philadelphia, discontinued its on-site court record review services to the public.

For additional helpful information regarding searching government records in general, please visit the NARA website:

http://www.archives.gov/midatlantic

Order a Closed Case Record for Review through the Clerk’s Office

When ordering a case record through the Clerk’s Office, you must:

Make a request that includes the following:

  • your name;
  • your address;
  • your daytime telephone number; and
  • the case name and/or case number.
  • Submit the request, with a $53 check or money order made payable to Clerk, U. S. District Court, to the appropriate divisional office shown here.
  • When notified that the case record has arrived (usually within ten working days), appear at the Clerk’s Office to review the record.
  • Select any documents you would like to have copied; the copies will be made upon advance payment of the following fees:
    • $ .50 cents for each page copied
    • $ 7.50 for each document certified

Order a Copy of a Record or a Preselected Set of Documents from a Closed Case Record Directly from the NARA

When ordering a copy of a case record or a preselected set of documents directly from the NARA, you must:

Contact the appropriate divisional office shown here to obtain the following information:

NOTE: A separate form is required for each record requested.

Mail the completed form to:

Philadelphia Federal Records Center
14700 Townsend Road
Philadelphia, PA 19154

FAX the completed form to:

215/305-2038 or 215/305-2039

To request the copy via telephone, contact the NARA Research Room staff at: 215/305-2001 -- M-F, 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM (closed on Federal holidays)

To request the copy online, visit the following website: https://eservices.archives.gov/orderonline

Fees are payable in advance and include:

  • Entire case file - $90
  • Entire case file certified - $105
  • Docket sheet - $35
  • Docket sheet certified - $50

For the NARA Reproduction Fee Schedule as of 2/1/2011, visit:

http://www.archives.gov/research/order/fees.html

Review a closed case record by visiting the Regional Archives Facility on Market Street

When planning a visit to the Regional Archives facility on Market Street, you (the visitor) must:

Contact the appropriate divisional office shown here to obtain the following information:

  • City in which the court is located
  • Case record name
  • Case record number
  • Accession number
  • Agency box number
  • FRC location number 

Contact the Archives in advance to verify that the record is available and to schedule an appointment:

Mail:

National Archives
900 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Tel: 215/606-0100

FAX: 215/606-0116

E-mail: Philadelphia.archives@nara.gov

Correspondence must include your name address, telephone number, and e-mail address.

You may need to obtain an NARA researcher identification card upon arrival. To request a card, you must provide official identification with a photograph, such as a driver’s license, passport, school, or business ID, and complete a form that includes your name, address, telephone number, and a brief descript of your research.

The Archives provides self-service paper copiers and microfilm copiers. It also provides a fee-based copying service. Staff may restrict copying if the records are fragile or have other limitations.