Special Collections Access and Policies main content.

Special Collections Access and Policies

Special Collections may be contacted by phone (212)769-5420 or by email speccol@amnh.org.

Research Appointments

Conducting research in Special Collections is by appointment only and requires a formal Request for Access to AMNH Archives.


Please submit the application at least two weeks in advance. All research must be conducted by the researcher -- Special Collections staff do not provide this service, but are available to provide specialized advice on how to conduct research within the collections.

  • Please sign in at the front desk upon arrival and present a government-issued photo ID.
  • Hang outerwear and store all bags, briefcases, or purses in the designated lockers.
  • The Library reserves the right to inspect personal articles brought into or leaving the area.
  • YES  Use extreme care handling the collections; archival materials are fragile and irreplaceable.
  • YES  Only one folder from one box may be open on the table at one time.
  • YES  View one item at a time within its folder, flat on the table.
  • YES  Preserve the existing arrangement of all archival materials within folders and boxes.
  • YES  If any materials appear to be misfiled, call this to the attention of the archivist.
  • YES  Handheld photography without flash is permitted at the Library’s discretion.
  • YES  Pencils or laptops may be used for note taking.
  • YES  Let the archivist know if you leave the Reading Room.
  • NO  Do not leave archival materials unattended.
  • NO  Do not remove archival materials from your assigned location.
  • NO  Do not rearrange any archival materials, even if they appear to be misfiled.
  • NO  Do not set objects on top of archival materials.
  • NO  Do not trace from or write on archival materials.  
  • NO  Do not use pens, self-stick notes, tripods, or scanners.
  • NO  Do not eat, drink, or chew gum in the Library.

Public Access Policies

Permission to examine archival collections will be granted subject to whatever restriction may have been placed on the manuscripts by donors or on institutional records by their American Museum of Natural History department or office of origin. For additional information about possible restrictions please contact Special Collections.

ACRL/SAA Joint Statement on Access to Research Materials in Archives and Special Collections Libraries http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/jointstatement

Procedures Governing Access and Use of AMNH Archives

The researcher must complete the Request for Access to AMNH Archives describing the subject of research and the purpose of inquiry. The researcher will fill out a separate request for each research project. Requests to access AMNH Archives are evaluated by in terms of the seriousness and relevance of the request.

The researcher agrees to indemnify and hold harmless AMNH, its officers and employees, from and against all claims and actions arising out of the researcher's use of AMNH Archives.

Researchers may encounter records that contain private or restricted information about individuals or organizations. This information may not be conveyed by the researcher to anyone by any means.

Hand-held photography of AMNH assets, without tripod or flash, is permitted at the Library’s discretion for research purposes only and is allowed as a convenience for scholars.

Permission to access or photograph material located in AMNH Archives does not give the researcher permission to reproduce or publish the contents thereof. This material must not be transferred to another individual or institution without the written permission from the Library.

Permission to publish, broadcast, exhibit or sell duplicated material must be requested in writing to the Library documenting the use in context. Researchers wishing to quote from, or publish in full, any documents in the AMNH Archives must request and secure permission from the Library in advance. If AMNH does not own the copyright to the material, it cannot grant permission to copy or publish the material and therefore the researcher must secure permission from the author or their heirs.

In the interest of ongoing research, we require that a copy of any work quoting from or reproducing AMNH Archives be sent for deposit in the Library collection and that the work acknowledge the Library using our preferred citation.

Conditions for Reproduction and Licensing

Library materials may not be published, displayed, or transmitted in any way without permission from the American Museum of Natural History. Certain assets may be protected by copyright, trademark, or related interests not owned by the American Museum of Natural History. Responsibility for obtaining any and all permissions as may be necessary rest with the user. See Reproduction and Licensing for more information.

Permission to cite from the Archives and Manuscript Collections

To quote from the collections, please request permission in writing to Special Collections via e-mail (speccol@amnh.org). Include the source of the material and the name of the work to be published in your request. For proper citation, refer to our Preferred Citation for Archival Collections Document:


The researcher is responsible for conforming to copyright and other applicable statutes. The American Museum of Natural History is not necessarily the owner of copyrights of unpublished manuscripts in its collections and permission to publish must be obtained from the owners, the Museum, or otherwise.

Archives in Museum Scientific Departments

Please note that many of the Museum’s Scientific Departments maintain additional archival collections including field notebooks, personal papers, departmental records, photographs, slides, and digital images. To conduct research in Museum Scientific Departmental archives, please contact the specific Department directly. Go to Our Research for links to each Department's site and contact information.

Artifact or Specimen Collections

Visit Our Research for links to each Department's site and contact information if you need to conduct research within the Museum artifact or specimen collections. Please note that the Scientific Staff are not generally available to answer questions or identify artifacts of any kind, except during the Museum's annual "Identification Day." Please check our program listings for more details on Museum events.

Rare Book Collection

Please see our Rare Book Collection page for more information.