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Remote Research in the Archives

The archivists at The New School created this guide to help you navigate the world of researching archives from the safety of your home. We hope you can use these tips into the future when more archives -- including The New School Archives -- re-open for

Contacting an Archive

Archives are open, even if you cannot visit them. Many archivists are working from home, and some are even working in their offices. Depending on where they are located, some archives may be hosting limited researcher visits. Remember to check the archives’ website to learn about the opening status of the archives. 

Follow the instructions on the website for contacting the archives. Some researchers think that by searching out a specific employee, they will obtain a faster response. This is not an effective method, and may result in a longer response time. If there is a form to complete, fill it out and then follow up if you do not receive a response within one week. Some archives provide information on response times on their websites. Unlike many libraries, most archives do not have weekend or evening hours. 

 

When initiating contact, it is helpful to inform the archivist about your research project as specifically as possible. Tell them about where you have looked for information and what led you to contact their particular archive. If there is a specific collection you are inquiring about, state this in your message, along with any other relevant information or links. Don’t assume the person reading your message knows the contents of their archives inside-out!

 

Some archives may be able to provide you with digital images, either taken with a phone or using a scanner. You may need to pay for the archivist’s research time, and/or scanned images. At The New School Archives, we conduct up to one hour of free research, after which we charge $50 per hour. Researchers associated with The New School are entitled to a limited number of free scans, but we charge non-New School affiliated researchers. You can read our pricing schedule here. Look for information on an archives’ website about digitization policies before submitting a request. 

 

If you are affiliated with a university, college, school, museum, or other institution that employs a librarian or archivist, you can ask them for assistance making scanning or research requests from other archives. They may be able to submit inter-library-loan (ILL) scanning requests on your behalf, or assist you in locating alternate materials. Don’t hesitate to ask for their help!