This guide offers an introduction to using University Archives collection materials. It includes procedures for visiting the Department as well as instructions for identifying, accessing and working with Special Collections materials.
The Department of Special Collections and University Archives acquires, preserves, and makes available materials of enduring historic value to support the research needs of Stanford students and faculty, and the larger community of scholars. Collections include personal papers of scientists, artists, political activists, and writers; photographs; manuscript drafts; rare books; audio visual materials and more. For more information visit the Special Collections and University Archives website.
Access to collections is provided through Stanford Libraries' Catalog, SearchWorks.
Stanford University instructors interested in teaching with Special Collections materials should consult the Teaching with Special Collections LibGuide.
University Archives materials must be requested several days in advance of your planned visit. Researchers must make an appointment with our Special Collections Reading Room to access the requested archival materials.
The Special Collections Reading Room is located on the second floor of the Green Library Bing Wing.
Consult current guidelines before visiting Special Collections.
Special Collections Public Services staff are:
Special Collections materials are located in remote facilities, and patrons must request materials two full business days before planned date of use. In some cases, paging may take up to a week. All materials can be paged online.
Paging materials must take place via the Libraries’ online catalog, SearchWorks, which may also provide links to finding aids (detailed collection guides) hosted by the Online Archive of California (OAC), and offer links to related online content.
Limiting SearchWorks results to Library -> Special Collections is the most effective way to narrow a search for materials in Special Collections.
For archival and manuscript collections, start your search with SearchWorks, then use the Online Archive of California (OAC) to search across or within finding aids, to determine the specific boxes from a collection that you wish to examine. The Online Archive of California provides helpful information about searching finding aids.
This video example demonstrates how to use SearchWorks to identify, locate and request materials in a manuscript collection. Please note that each collection or item is unique and a variety of strategies can be used to search for materials. Contact Special Collections via email with questions about using SearchWorks.
Reading room staff provide patrons with information about handling Special Collections upon their arrival.
For additional information about how to handle Special Collections materials view videos created by Stanford Libraries' Conservation Services Department.
Please follow these general guidelines to ensure that collections are cared for and will be available for future users:
Books and bound volumes
While the Department of Special Collections and University Archives is the repository for collections, we are not necessarily the copyright holder. It is the responsibility of the researcher to procure copyright before the Department of Special Collections provides their permission, as well as proper credit and citation language. The Library of Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office are good resources for questions concerning copyright.
The Public Services Division provides PDF scans, high-resolution tiffs, and digital surrogates of media: audiocassettes, VHS tapes, DVDs, CDs, and reel-to-reel tapes. Visit the Special collections website for more information on Requesting copies.