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General Information

Instructions for Manuscripts Users

*use small weights to hold volumes open (available at the Reference Services desk) *use pen; pens of any kind are prohibited
*sit at a specially designated manuscripts reading room table *take anything with you to the manuscripts reading room table, except paper and pencil, or a laptop, with which to take notes; a few loose research notes may be taken if absolutely necessary
*expect to receive only one folder or volume at a time; the remainder of the items requested will remain at the Reference Services desk *remove manuscripts from folders at any time; if errors of arrangement or identification are observed, please inform the Curator of Manuscripts; do not make any changes
*return manuscripts to the Reference Services desk whenever you wish to leave the table *pick up manuscripts and hold them while reading
*touch manuscripts as little as possible *lean on manuscripts
*keep folders flat on the table surface *trace or take notes on top of manuscripts
*keep bound volumes in a cradle  
*use an acid-free slip of paper as a reading guide, if necessary (available at the Reference Services desk)  
*maintain the existing order of the folder; if errors of arrangement or identification are observed, please inform the Curator of Manuscripts  

Photoduplication and Permission

Requests for photocopies of manuscripts will be considered if copying can be done without injury to the material and does not violate copyright restrictions. If permission for photocopying is granted, up to twenty exposures of single pages per day may be requested for the reader's personal reference use. However, no more than twenty pages of copies may be requested from a single manuscript volume, regardless of how many days a reader is at the AAS. Also, no more than twenty copies per day may be requested from a single collection, even if the collection is used by two or more researchers working together. These limits exist for preservation reasons, and may not be exceeded. "Photocopying Request" slips, available at the Reference Services desk, are used to flag pages within folders and volumes. A slip should be filled out and placed on top of each item or page to be copied.

At this time the AAS is unable to provide any scanning services. For preservation reasons, we do not allow handheld scanners in the reading room.

Permission to examine materials or receipt of photocopies does not constitute an authorization to publish them. Separate written application for permission for publication must be made to the curator of manuscripts.

Searching for Collections and Finding Aids

Approximately nine hundred collections are available for searching in the online catalog (MARK). The remainder of the collections may be found using the four volume set entitled, Catalogue of the Manuscript Collections of the American Antiquarian Society (Boston : G.K. Hall & Co., 1979). Please refer to both when searching for a person, subject, etc., and keep in mind that there may be some duplication of results.

After finding the collection or collections of interest, please proceed to the Manuscript Collection Descriptions binders housed to the right of the Reference Services desk. These binders contain a description for each collection, as well as a contents list, if necessary. The information in these binders is used in filling out the call slip.

Call Slips

When filling out call slips for manuscripts requests, write the "location" information in the call number area. Write the "collection name" on the author and title lines. Write the item(s) (e.g., one octavo volume; box 1, folder 3; folio volume 6) requested on the remaining lines. If you have any questions, see a member of our Reference Services Department for help.


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American Antiquarian Society, 185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, Massachusetts 01609

Last updated October 10, 2000

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