Planning an Archive Trip

Some tips for planning an archival research trip

Weeks or even Months before:

Contact the archives

  • To tell them what you’re interested in looking at
    • They can tell you if the material is open to researchers or restricted (or if you need to apply to gain access)
    • To tell them the dates of your trip
      • They may be able to pull some of the material you’re interested in for your arrival so that you can get started right away on day 1 rather than waiting for the material to be retrieved
      • This is also helpful in cases where material is stored off-site and needs to be brought in

Research the archive

  • Where are they located? What room in what building accessible by what elevator?
    • Often this is fairly straightforward. But places like the Weill Cornell Medical Center Archives are only accessible by one elevator (in a building with multiple elevators) that you need to call using a phone in the hall.
  • What are their hours? Do they close for lunch? Are the hours the same every day?
  • What are the photocopying policies/cost?
  • What are the policies re: the use of digital cameras?
  • What are the retrieval hours of the archive?

Prepare your “Toolbox”

  • Also: turn off the “beep” on your camera, and the auto-correct function on your word processing program

The Night Before

  • Charge your laptop battery
  • Charge all of your camera batteries
  • Confirm that you know where you’re going and when the archive opens

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