Visiting the Vertebrate Paleontology Archives

The Vertebrate Paleontology Archives are generally open to bona fide researchers who are affiliated to a recognized academic institution. Approval by Museum staff is required. Normal opening hours are weekdays, 10 am to 4:30 pm, excluding these public holidays:

Vertebrate Paleontology Archives Access Guidelines

Visitors will conduct research in the reading room of the Gottesman Research Library and Learning Center; visitor access to the Vertebrate Paleontology Archives room is not permitted.

Before applying for a research visit, please review and agree to the Access Guidelines, which apply to the use of materials from both the Museum Archives and the Vertebrate Paleontology Archives.

Scholar’s Room Conduct
(The Scholar’s Room is located in the Gottesman Research Library)

  • 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. 
  • Pencils or laptops may be used for note taking. 
  • Let the desk attendant know if you leave the reading room. 
  • Do not leave archival materials unattended. 
  • Do not remove archival materials from your assigned location. 
  • Do not use pens, self-stick notes, or tripods. 
  • Do not eat, drink, or chew gum in the Library.   
  • The Library is under video surveillance at all times. 

How to Handle Archival Materials

  • Use extreme care handling the collections; archival materials are fragile and irreplaceable.
  • Only one folder from one box may be open on the table at one time. 
  • View one item at a time within its folder, flat on the table. 
  • Preserve the existing arrangement of all archival materials within folders and boxes. 
  • If any materials appear to be misfiled, call this to the attention of the archivist. 
  • Do not rearrange any archival materials, even if they appear to be misfiled. 
  • Do not set objects on top of archival materials. 
  • Do not trace from or write on archival materials. 

Photography Policy

  • Handheld photography without flash is permitted at the Department’s discretion.
  • Do not photocopy archival materials without prior approval from the Department of Vertebrate Paleontology.
  • Photography of maps is not permitted.
  • Do not remove clear sleeves or any mounts. 
  • Do not remove paper clips or staples.  
  • Do not hold material or apply pressure while photographing. 
  • Do not photograph entire collections. 
  • Do not photograph the reading room, staff members, or patrons. 

In accordance with the Library’s policies, researchers will be asked to refrain from photography if the activity is disturbing others or poses a risk to materials. 

Researchers agree to use photographed material for private research only; publication quality scans of materials may be produced by the Department on request, at the expense of the visitor. Permission to publish, display, distribute or quote from materials in the Vertebrate Paleontology Archives must be granted in writing by the Department of Vertebrate Paleontology or Global Business Development. Please contact the Director of Collections, Archives and Preparation for use permission.

See the Library’s policies on Copyright, Permission, and Citation for more information. 

The Department requires use of the following preferred citation when archival records are reproduced or referenced in a work:

  • Author of document; or author and intended recipient of letter
  • Title of document (or brief description).
  • Date of document or letter. 
  • Name, and classification number of collection; box and folder number.
  • American Museum of Natural History Vertebrate Paleontology Archive.
    • Example: Osborn, Henry Fairfield, Letter to William Diller Matthew, June 15, 1927. Henry F. Osborn Papers, VPA 125, Box 4, Folder 6, American Museum of Natural History Vertebrate Paleontology Archive.
    • Example: Brown, Barnum, “Rhodes and Other Dodecanesia,” 1927. Barnum Brown Papers, VPA 114, Box 10, Folder 80, American Museum of Natural History Vertebrate Paleontology Archive.
    • Example: Kaisen, Peter C., Photograph of elk antler in Alaska, 1930. Ted Galusha Collection, VPA 120, Box 1, Folder 1, American Museum of Natural History Vertebrate Paleontology Archive.

Applying to Visit

Applications to visit the archives must be made in writing at least six weeks in advance of the visit; please do not make travel arrangements to New York City until we have approved your visit. Every attempt will be made to accommodate your preferred visit dates, but those dates are subject to staff availability.

First-time visitors should make their request via a letter with an institutional letterhead.
In addition, students should provide a letter of reference from their graduate or undergraduate advisor, also on institutional letterhead.

Letters of application and reference should be directed to Kiana Clark.

The request should specify the following (all fields are required; please copy and paste this numbered list into the body of your email/letter and complete the required information):

  1. Full Name:
  2. Email:
  3. Institutional Affiliation:
  4. Title/Position:
  5. Address:
  6. Telephone Number:
  7. Subject of Research. Include archival collection(s) and date(s) to be consulted, if possible, please search relevant terms in the online database:
  8. Requested Visit Date(s):
  9. Purpose of Inquiry. Include title and publication date of your project, if applicable:
  10. Please check the box below to acknowledge your agreement to abide by the Vertebrate Paleontology Archives Access Guidelines as described above:

[ ] I have read and agree to abide by the terms outlined by the Vertebrate Paleontology Archives Access Guidelines. I understand and acknowledge that my failure to follow these terms may result in the termination of my research privileges.