Research

Covid-19 Updates

The Institute Archives and Special Collections serves not only Rensselaer students, faculty, and staff but any researcher interested in the rare and unique materials housed within the Institute Archives and Special Collections.

Access to the Archives

The Institute Archives and Special Collections reading room is open to all researchers. Appointments are required and can be scheduled by contacting Archives staff.

Please review the information below regarding our reading room, staff services, and additional information to help guide the research process.

Archives staff will assist with locating relevant collections within the limits of our service. Once those limits have been reached, researchers are responsible for identifying the specific materials they would like to see.

Please note that collections held by the Archives do not circulate. In some instances, publicly available digital surrogates of items or collections may exist. Research can often be initiated, or even completed, using online resources.

Access and Use Policies

Appointments are required to visit the Archives; we cannot always accommodate unscheduled researchers in our reading room, and staff are not always available during normal reading room hours when no researchers are scheduled. Most of our collections must be retrieved from closed stacks or from offsite storage, so we encourage all researchers to make appointments as far in advance as possible to ensure reading room service and to make the best use of their visit.

Archives welcomes researchers to identify collections for use in the Archives reading room and perform their own research. Researchers working in the reading room who would like to take photographs of materials for personal use, must review the Reading Room Camera Use Policy. Please consult the website for reading room hours and email us to arrange an appointment to visit the reading room.

Research Appointments

For the campus community, the Archives general business hours are Monday – Friday, 9-12 and 1-4.

According to time limits, Archives staff will:

  • Identify relevant collections, or portions of collections, for reading room use or digitization
  • Assist researchers in finding rare books, manuscripts, and archives that relate to your research topic.
  • Find rare books, manuscripts, and archives that relate to your research topic.
  • Assist with digital resources managed by the Institute Archives.
  • Build skills to interpret rare books and primary sources.
  • Determine how to use and cite rare books and primary sources.

Services we do not provide:

  • Research in the Institute Archives for patrons.
  • Research elsewhere such as other repositories or online for patrons.
  • Research beyond the scope of the Archives’ collections. Members of the Rensselaer community can contact Rensselaer Libraries staff for general research help.
  • The Archives does not offer self-service printing and photocopying. 

The Archives welcomes groups to visit the Archives with at least two weeks prior notice. The Archives especially welcomes Rensselaer class visits and are pleased to support instruction in research methods using primary source materials.

Planning Your Visit 

Class Visit and Instruction

The Archives maintains an active digitization program. Depending on considerations of restriction, format, condition, and extent of the request, the Archives may provide digital surrogates of certain materials. Advance notice is required and estimates for digitization time will be provided when a request is initiated. Digitization requests are typically processed within 1 month, depending on the extent of the request, and may take longer. Please contact us to initiate a digitization request.

The Institute Archives and Special Collections provides duplication services of most materials in our collections. All duplication requests are subject to the following conditions:

  • Curatorial approval
  • Physical condition of the item
  • Donor-imposed restrictions
  • Limited staff time and resources

About Reproductions and Ordering 

  • All orders are processed in the order they are received.
  • Approximate turnaround periods vary based on material format and demand, but plan on three to four weeks.
  • We are unable to provide technical or graphic editing assistance once you have the files.
  • All orders must be paid for in advance.
    • Staff cannot fulfill requests until payment is made.
    • Payments can be made by check ONLY, at this time.
  • Reproductions are for private use only unless explicit permission has been given by an archivist and all necessary.
    • Publication (in any format, including print, audio, video, or digital) requires advance written permission and incurs additional fees (see below).

See Reproduction Fees

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