Special Collections Access main content.

Special Collections Access

Request Access to AMNH Archives

Conducting research in Special Collections is by appointment only. Please submit your application at least two weeks in advance. A Special Collections Librarian will contact you to confirm your appointment date and time.

Many of the Museum’s scientific departments maintain additional archival collections. To conduct research in other Museum archives, please contact the specific department directly. Go to Our Research for links to each department's site and contact information.

Please contact us if you have any questions about gaining access to Special Collections or finding archival materials.

Special Collections Policies


  • Conducting research in Special Collections is by appointment only.
  • 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.
  • The Library's reading room is under video surveillance at all times.
  • Permission to examine archival collections will be granted at the discretion of the Library. Some materials may be restricted.

Reading Room Conduct

  • 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.
  • Handheld photography without flash is permitted at the Library’s discretion.
  • Pencils or laptops may be used for note taking.
  • Let the archivist know if you leave the reading room.
  • Do not leave archival materials unattended.
  • Do not remove archival materials from your assigned location.
  • 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.  
  • Do not use pens, self-stick notes, or tripods.
  • Do not photocopy or scan archival materials.
  • Do not eat, drink, or chew gum in the Library.  


Handheld photography without flash is permitted at the Library’s discretion. 

  • Do not photocopy or scan archival materials.
  • 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.

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. 

Reproduction and Licensing

Permission to publish, display, or distribute photographed or digitized materials from Special Collections must be granted by the Library or Global Business Development. 

See Reproduction and Licensing for more information.

Permission to Cite

Permission to quote from, or publish in full, any archival materials found in Special Collections must be granted by the Library. Please request permission to Special Collections by e-mail. Include the source of the material and the name of the work to be published in your request. 

In the interest of ongoing research, we require that a copy of the work be sent for deposit in the Library collection and that the work acknowledge the Library using our preferred citation.

Preferred Citation for Archival Collections

From Central Archives, Department Records, and Manuscripts Collection:

  • Author of document; or author and intended recipient of letter,
  • Date of document or letter.
  • Name, and classification number of collection;
  • American Museum of Natural History Library.

From Photographic Print Collection:

  • Name, and classification number of photographic print collection;
  • Image number (if available);
  • American Museum of Natural History Library.


  1. Central Archives example: Boas to Putnam, September 11, 1896. Central Archives, 1297.2; American Museum of Natural History Library.
  2. Departmental Records example: Bishop, February 10, 1950. Departmental Records, 068; American Museum of Natural History Library.
  3. Manuscript Collection example: Matthew to Osborn, January 9, 1911. Henry Fairfield Osborn Collection, MSS.O34; American Museum of Natural History Library.
  4. Photographic Print Collection example: Shippee-Johnson Collection, PPC.S82; neg. 32764; American Museum of Natural History Library.


The copyright law of the United States (title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specific conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” If a researcher 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 copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law. The researcher agrees to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the American Museum of Natural History against all claims, demands, costs and expenses incurred by copyright infringement or any other legal or regulatory cause of action arising from the use of Library materials.