Use Collections

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

Access to the Reading Room

The Special Collections Research Center’s hours are Monday through Friday 10 AM to 4PM and Saturdays by appointment only. Saturday appointments are only available when classes are in session and must be made by the preceding Wednesday. Please contact us to schedule an appointment.

GW students, faculty, and staff who have a physical GWorld card enabled for campus access may visit the reading room without an appointment during our regular hours.

Non-GW individuals (alumni and visitors) can access the reading room by appointment only. All visitors, including alumni, must be escorted at all times while in the building. Please contact us to schedule an appointment.

All visitors must comply with GW's visitor guidelines for campus access.

Learn more about our current entrance policies for visitors.

Masks are required while inside any building on the GW campus.

How to Request Materials

  1. Request material before you visit.  The majority of the archival, manuscript, and rare book collections in the SCRC are housed offsite and require 3-5 business days for retrieval. See the subject guides to the collections or search the archives database to locate materials. 
  2. Select a reasonable amount of material. Staff will place requests for up to 10 boxes per patron per research trip. If you are planning a long term research visit and know you will need to see more than 10 boxes, please speak with the staff member handling your request to determine a timeframe for placing a second box order.
  3. Contact the SCRC to place your order.  You will be contacted by a staff member when your boxes have arrived and are available for your use.


The Special Collections Research Center is located on the 7th floor of the Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library: 2130 H Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20052. 

Gelman is located near the Foggy Bottom/GWU Metrorail stop (blue, orange, and silver lines) and the Farragut North station (red line).

Parking options on the Foggy Bottom Campus

Foggy Bottom Campus Map

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.
  • Bound items will be placed in book cradles when being used. 

For those patrons who are unable to visit, but have an in-depth research question, please see this list of local, independent researchers for hire, compiled by the U.S. National Archives.