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Step 6: Researching at the Archives

After contacting the archive department and planning your trip and arriving at the archives, you are AT LAST ready to conduct your research! There are usually extra rules that archives have that you must follow. These are to protect the one-of-a-kind materials they specialize in, be prepared for these regulations.

Rules and Regulations

You must often register with an archives upon your first arrival. This is for security purposes.

Pens are not allowed in most archives. They can leave permanent marks on archival records.


Do not bring food or drinks (even spill proof bottles)


Being able to photocopy records allows you to work more quickly during your visit. You can spend time skimming collections looking for important documents and making copies, allowing more time to read them more carefully at home. Not all collections can be photocopied, however. Some papers and records are too fragile to be copied safely. Be prepared to take notes if photocopies are not allowed.

Final Thoughts

The archivist's continued assistance will be essential in completing your research. Using archives can be challenging, even for college students and professional researchers, so you will need guidance in advancing your project. How to conduct archival research is complicated and cannot be taught in these pages. Rely on the archivist and your teacher to hlep you make sense of the primary sources you find. Good luck.


1. Preliminary Research and Choose your Topic
2.Develop Research Question
3. Contact the Archivist
4. Decide if Archive Use is Appropriate
5. Plan a Trip to the Archives
6. Researching at the Archives