Conducting Research

The Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center, home of Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, welcomes students, faculty, staff, and the general public to conduct research within our collections. In order to ensure the best experience during your visit please review the following information regarding our research policies.

Information for Researchers


All researchers must register and present photo identification prior to their initial use of Archives and Special Collections materials. Visit to register. Upon registration, researchers are asked to agree to terms and conditions for research.

Hours and Appointments

Current hours are found on the top right side of the website under Hours. During the fall and spring semesters, Archives and Special Collections is open weekdays from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm, except for designated Purdue University holidays. During the summer months the Archives has reduced hours. Contact the Archives if you have questions about summer hours. Appointments are strongly recommended at least 48 hours in advance to ensure availability of collections .

Permissible and Impermissible Items in the Reading Room

Researcher's belongings will be put away before they can access collection materials. No pens, markers, or other potentially harmful writing utensils are allowed; only pencils may be used for taking notes. No smoking, food, chewing gum, or beverages are allowed in the reading room. Researchers may bring pencils, notes, and/or laptop computers into the reading room. All other belongings, including coats, books, briefcases, purses, and other items will be stored away from the research area.

Accessing Archives and Special Collections Materials

Although materials in the Archives and Special Collections are accessible to Purdue faculty, students, staff, and the general public, only Archives and Special Collections personnel may retrieve materials. The Archives holdings are non-circulating and do not leave the building under any circumstances. Researchers may only use one box of materials at a time, and remove only one folder at a time from each box.

Handling of Materials

Archives and Special Collections materials are rare, unique and original, and must be handled with care. They must not be marked, torn, cut, folded, leaned on, handled poorly, or otherwise damaged. Do not trace archival materials, or take notes on top of them. Never adhere post-it notes, paperclips, or other potentially harmful items to collection materials. Notify staff of any items that require preservation attention. Always maintain the existing order of materials within each folder and box. Never rearrange or alter the location of archival materials. Do not separate materials from their folders. Use gloves when handling photographs or other fragile materials as directed by staff. Material may not be removed from the archives research area. Archival materials are never loaned and are not to leave the premises under any condition.

Restricted Items

Certain collections, parts of collections, or items may be restricted by law or by donor. Restricted materials may not be accessed without written permission from the donor or his/her estate. Archives and Special Collections may restrict use of unprocessed collections and materials of exceptional value or fragile condition. Whenever possible, facsimiles of rare and/or fragile materials will be provided for use by researchers.

Using Archives and Special Collections Materials

Copyright Notice

The Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction as long as the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user 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.
  • Reproductions must be for personal or research use only. Special permission is required to publish or further reproduce the materials in the collections.
  • Only up to 10% of a collection or monograph still under copyright may be reproduced.
  • It is the user’s responsibility to obtain the University’s and/or other copyright holder’s permission before using the material for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.

Publishing Archival Materials

Written permission must be obtained before publishing archival materials. In giving permission to copy, quote from, or publish, the Archives does not surrender its own right to publish such material or to grant permission to others to do so. Archival material will not be reproduced in violation of copyright laws. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain permission to publish. Researchers assume full responsibility for the use of material obtained from the Archives and conformity to the law of defamation, privacy, and copyright. The researcher shall indemnify and hold harmless Purdue University and its employees from any claims arising as a result of his or her use of the material obtained. In the event that the donors have retained literary rights to their materials, the researcher must obtain written permission from them before publication of any such material. If portions of the archives are reproduced in published or unpublished sources, citations must include: "[Collection Identifier, Collection Title]. [Folder #, Box #]. Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries." One copy of any published work that includes materials used in the Archives and Special Collections must be presented to the unit at no cost. If you anticipate publishing any original material from the ASC collections, visit the Digital Reproduction Request information page.

Photocopying of Archival Materials

Archives and Special Collections offers digital photocopy services under the following conditions.
  • Archives and Special Collections staff may refuse photocopy requests of rare, fragile, or oversize materials. Alternative reproduction solutions (e.g. photographs, scans) may be possible in these circumstances.
  • Content from books will only be reproduced by staff and only if the Head of the Archives or the Head of Reference inspects the item and agrees that duplication of the item will not violate copyright law and condition of the item is good enough that a duplication process will not cause harm.
  • Photocopying requests are filled by the Archives and Special Collections staff, and may require time to process.
  • Photocopies may not be further reproduced.
  • Supplying a photocopy is not authorization to publish.
  • A maximum photocopy order of 100 pages may be placed at one time. Upon consultation, Archives and Special Collections may grant permission to exceed this limit.
  • Researchers can receive up to 50 photocopies at no charge.
Purdue Employee & Student Fee General Public Fee
Photocopy $0.25 (U.S.) $0.40 (U.S.)

Photographing of Archival Materials

Archives and Special Collections allows researchers to bring in and use personal cameras (regular or digital) under the following conditions.
  • Photography must be for personal or research use only; special permission is required to publish or further reproduce the materials in the ASC collections in print, on the Internet, or for exhibition purposes.
  • No flash photography can be used.
  • Items photographed must be loose (unbound) manuscripts in good condition without donor restrictions.
  • No tripods, supports, special lighting, or other photographing apparatus may be brought into the reading room except with advance special permission from the Head of Archives and Special Collections. Visit the On-Site Filming and Professional Photography page for more information.
  • Researchers will not prop items up or lean on items during the photographing process. Staff may, in some instances, be able to provide physical supports for items while they are being photographed.
  • Researchers who are photographing materials will be respectful of other researchers and not disrupt the quiet study environment of the Reading Room.
  • Archives and Special Collections staff will supervise the photographing process and reserve the right to refuse permission to photograph materials if researchers abuse these rules.
  • Researchers are not at any time allowed to bring in personal scanners.
  • General photography of the physical space is allowed.