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Making a Visit to the Archives

Page history last edited by Kathryn Otto 9 years, 8 months ago

Home > Student/Teacher Section > Making a Visit to the Archives

 

Visiting the archives can be fun, but here are some things to keep in mind before and during your visit:Minnesota Historical Society

 

Look at the Website to Find Out About Policies, Procedures, and Collections

  • Many archives provide lists of their collections online with links to the finding aids, which will tell you what is in the collection. Usually the website will not have links to the actual primary sources, so you will need to visit the archives to see the original documents.

  • Some archives will pull materials from their storage areas only at certain times each day. Contact the archives before you visit to check what time researchers may ask for materials.

  • Many archives will allow you to bring in your laptop computer and a camera to make copies, and may even provide a wireless connection to the Internet.

  • While many archives welcome young researchers, others may require that you arrive accompanied by an adult.

 

Contact the Archives before the Visit

E-mail or call the archives that has primary sources that interest you for your project before your visit. Archivists are happy to help NHD students, and they can usually give great advice on the best materials in their archives that might not have been apparent from the finding aids or guides. The archivist will ask you a lot of questions about your project; tell him or her as much as you can about what you think you need for your topic. The archivist may tell you that even though the archives does not have a specific source you're looking for, there may be other sources that may be of interest to you. Ask if the archival material you want to use is stored in the same building as the archives itself, or if you need to request it so that it will be there on the day you want to use it. Also take this time to ask the archivist about their policies for researchers.

 

Visit the Archives

When you arrive at the archives you will likely be told of specific procedures you need  to follow and how you can use the finding aids to identify specific materials for your project. If there is a reference desk you will likely have to register, as all researchers are asked to do. This registration process will often require you to show a form of identification, such as a student ID, and fill out a form asking for your name, address, and research topic.

 

Conduct Your ResearchUniversity of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Some archives have special spaces, called reading rooms, for researchers. When you are in the reading room you may not bring in food and drink of any kind, your backpack or coat, or pens. You may use pencils (which the archives may supply) and bring in a notebook or binder. Turn the ringer off on your cellphone or put it on vibrate so as not to disturb other researchers; if you need to take or make a call, do so outside of the reading room.

 

Get Copies

Ask the archivist about getting copies or digital scans of the documents. There is usually a fee for copies. Make sure you know the cost, how you can pay, and how long it will take for the archives to scan or copy material. Many archives allow researchers to bring in their own digital cameras to capture images. Ask, in advance, if this is allowed.

 

Ask about Copyright Issues

Copyright is a form of protection of the works of an author or a creator of an original creative work to duplication, distribution or display by others. Copyright is a very complicated issue that may apply to materials used in NHD projects. It is possible that some materials you look at in the archives cannot be copied or scanned because of their copyright status. Make sure to ask the archivist in advance about the copyright for items of interest. You may be able to ask the copyright holder for permission to use the item.

 

Properly Cite the Source

For your process paper's bibliography you must properly cite the primary source. Make sure you include the collection name, its location in the collection (box and folder), and repository where you found the source.


Society of American Archivists Reference, Access and Outreach Section's National History Day Committee| Credits

The Society of American Archivists does not assume responsibility for the opinions and views published on this auxiliary site.

 

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