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Guidelines for Use and Citations

The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) and its collections are open to the GW community and the public. The SCRC is committed to being an innovative and inclusive academic special collections through the open sharing of resources, non-restrictive access policies, and collecting practices that prioritize adding a wider diversity of perspectives to the historical record.

The Special Collections Research Center of the George Washington University Libraries was formed in 1968 to protect, preserve, and make available the library’s rare and unique historical materials. Today, the collections include strong representation in social justice, labor history, history of education, and 20th century Washington, DC history. Holdings include approximately 62,000 literary, historical, rare, and antiquarian volumes; 27,000 linear feet of manuscripts and University records; 400,000 photographs; 50,000 audio recordings; and numerous other documents and maps.

 

General guidelines

  • No food or drinks of any kind are allowed within the Special Collections registration area or the reading room, regardless of their container.
  • Coats and bags of any kind (including purses) are to be left in a locker.  
  • Only pencils may be used when working with Special Collections materials.
  • Researchers are permitted to use personal laptops.
  • Researchers are permitted to take images of materials using digital, video, or film cameras, as long as no flash or other extra lighting is used. Special Collections reserves the right to regulate or prohibit researchers' photography in order to protect materials.
  • Materials may not be removed from the public area of Special Collections.

Reproduction of materials

  • Requests for reproductions (high-res and PDF) must be approved by Special Collections staff.  Permission may be denied due to copyright restrictions or the condition of the materials.
  • SCRC staff will assist researchers with all aspects of placing a request for reproduction, including the preferred way to indicate specific items for scanning from within their original folder and box and the form(s) needed to ensure delivery of the digital files. See more information on our Copies and Reproductions page. 
  • Researchers are permitted to take images of materials using digital, video, or film cameras, as long as no flash or other extra lighting is used. Special Collections reserves the right to regulate or prohibit researchers' photography in order to protect materials.
  • Researchers are prohibited from using all models of scanners, whether flatbed or personal/portable/handheld and additional lighting.  

Citing Manuscript Materials

  A well-crafted citation should lead your reader directly to the exact document or item cited. As such, the following elements ought to be included in your citations:

  • Document title/name (you will often have to impute this information if the document is not titled)
  • Author(s)/creator(s)
  • Document date, if available
  • Series, box, and folder number
  • Collection number and name
  • Repository name: Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Libraries
  • Location: Washington, DC. 

Example: Letter from James Oglethorpe to the Trustees, 13 January 1876, Series 1, Box 4, Folder 3. RG0001 Records of the Board of Trustees, Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Libraries, Washington, DC.

Permissions and Copyright

Materials reproduced for researchers by the Special Collections Research Center are provided for private study, scholarship or research under the fair use provision of the law (17 U.S.C. § 107). Any use other than private study, scholarship or research may be subject to copyright restrictions.

Researchers should be aware that many items in the SCRC are still under copyright. In many cases, the Special Collections Research Center is owner of the physical object only. Researchers are solely responsible for securing any necessary permission from copyright holders if they wish to publish, exhibit, perform, broadcast, post online, or otherwise make the materials available.

For permission inquiries, please email Special Collections at speccoll@gwu.edu.

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