What is the best way to gain access to a country's national historical archives?

In other words, how do you get permission to view certain historical archived documents such as letters, maps, city records, details of ceremonial processions, memoirs, etc., dating back hundreds of years ago? These would be articles typically held in some sort of government building or state office, rather than... show more In other words, how do you get permission to view certain historical archived documents such as letters, maps, city records, details of ceremonial processions, memoirs, etc., dating back hundreds of years ago? These would be articles typically held in some sort of government building or state office, rather than in a public museum. Do you have to prove it's for educational research or show certain credentials? (Directly contacting various official government websites has not been helpful because the responses are polite but hedgy.)
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