Archives as Data

This guide provides guidance on how to use archival data, including how to extract data sets from archival materials.

Preparing for your visit

We invite you to prepare for your visit to Special Collections by consulting the subject guidespolicies and procedures, and manuscript finding aids.

Please contact Special Collections in advance of your visit. Many collections are stored off-site and require 24 hours advance notice for access.

Policies and Procedures

Special Collections is open to students, faculty, and staff of the University, to researchers from other colleges and universities, and to the general public. The department can provide limited assistance by mail and e-mail. 

Note: Special Collections is interested in learning about the use of materials from the collections. Prior to publication in print or online, display, performance, or distribution, please complete and submit a Notification of Intent to Publish form. Researchers are responsible for determining copyright status of materials intended for publication and securing applicable rights and permissions prior to publication.

Reading Room Procedures

Special Collections is open to all researchers interested in its collections, subject to the regulations outlined below. Procedures derive from these basic concerns as well as industry best practices: quality of service to researchers, security and preservation of the materials, courtesy to other researchers, and compliance with university and library regulations.

  • All users must register annually and provide a current ID, with photograph.
  • Donor-imposed restrictions and processing status may limit access to collections, the availability of reproductions, or the ability to publish. Researchers agree to abide by any and all restrictions, as communicated by staff when materials are requested for use.
  • Researchers may bring loose paper or notebooks (upon inspection), pencils, laptop computers, tablets, and cell phones into the Reading Room. All other belongings must be placed in a token-operated storage locker.
  • Electronic devices brought into the Reading Room should be muted, and cell phone calls should be taken outside.
  • Special Collections materials are housed in closed stacks and may be used only in the Reading Room. Researchers complete call slips to request materials, which are retrieved by the staff.
  • Many materials are stored off site; one week advance notice is required for retrieval. Materials may be held upon request for up to one week after your initial visit.
  • Food and drink are not permitted in the Reading Room.
  • Follow all handling procedures outlined by staff.
  • Use pencils to take notes; pens are not permitted in the Reading Room. Pencils may be obtained from staff.
  • Researchers agree to follow policies and procedures governing duplication requests.
  • If you intend to publish materials from Special Collections, submit a Notification of Intent to Publish form.
  • Some materials may include sensitive or confidential information protected under federal and/or state privacy laws and regulations. Researchers who find sensitive personal information, including but not limited to social security numbers and student records, in any collection should notify a staff member.

Notice concerning copyright restrictions: The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified by law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a duplication order, if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.