Doing Archival Research

Advice about Requesting Copies

The majority of sources held by manuscript repositories and archives are unique or rare. Therefore, requesting an item via Interlibrary Loan is not often an option. Requests for reproductions of published material can go through our ILL office but, due to varying reproduction policies at different repositories, it is often quicker to contact the curators directly with your request.

  • Ask whether the collection is available digitally or on microfilm.
  • Be aware that some materials may be too fragile, old or large to reproduce easily.
  • Ask for a cost schedule before requesting copies. 
    Scanning and photography will ordinarily cost more than photocopying. Photocopy charges may increase if the request exceeds a page limit established by the repository. Some repositories require pre-payment; others will invoice you.
  • Be very specific about what material you want copied and how you would like it reproduced.
  • Do not expect immediate turn around on your copying order.
    Depending upon reproduction backlogs your request may take several weeks or even months.