The Archives & Special Collections is open to the public -- to students, faculty, outside researchers, and members of the community -- regardless of institutional affiliation. The department follows the Guidelines Regarding Security and Theft in Special Collections developed by the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College & Research Libraries to ensure the long-term preservation and availability of our holdings. It also adheres to the Guidelines for Access to Original Research Materials, a joint statement of the American Library Association and the Society of American Archivists. In accordance with these guidelines, we will “not deny access to materials to any researcher, nor grant privileged or exclusive use of materials to any researcher, nor conceal the existence of any body of material from any researcher, unless required to do so by statutory authority, institutional mandate, or donor or purchase stipulation.”[1] The same policies apply to any born-digital or electronic records held by the Archives & Special Collections. We provide access to research materials in all formats according the ALA-SAA “equal terms of access” principle.[2]

Access Restrictions: Some material held by the Archives & Special Collections is not immediately available to researchers because of legal requirements or institutional mandates. Normally, restrictions on access to any body of material will not be for a period of more than thirty (30) years.[3]

The majority of the holdings of the Archives & Special Collections are physical books, manuscripts, records, and other materials that must be consulted in the Reading Room on the A-Level of Frost Library. Tangible materials in our collection are housed in closed stacks and do not circulate.

A growing number of items from our collection have been digitized and digital surrogates can be freely accessed via Amherst College Digital Collections.

Patrons who wish to use tangible material on site must complete a patron registration form, present a valid photo ID, and agree to follow the department's Terms of Access and Use in order to use the collection. Some material is stored at a remote location and must be requested 24 hours in advance. For those researchers unable to visit, a limited number of copies may be made available for research use, as physical condition, access restrictions and staffing permit. Material in the Archives and Special Collections is not normally available through Inter-Library Loan.

[1] ALA-SAA Joint Statement of Access: Guidelines for Access to Original Research Materials, 1994. “Institutional mandates” are stipulated by the Amherst College Board of Trustees

[2] ALA-SAA Joint Statement of Access.                              

[3] Minutes of the Amherst College Board of Trustees, April 21, 1979. Exceptions to be stipulated by the Amherst College Board of Trustees.


Patrons who wish to obtain photocopies of materials in Archives and Special Collections must submit a written request with complete details about material to be copied. Photocopies are intended for personal research only and cannot be published (in print or online) without the written consent of the appropriate copyright holder.

All photocopy requests must be reviewed by Archives staff. Some materials are too physically fragile to withstand photocopying.

Thesis Reproduction
Theses (with the exception of bibliographic references) cannot be duplicated without express written consent of authors. Researchers wishing to obtain a copy of a thesis must complete a request form detailing the intended purpose and use of the thesis. Please contact Archives and Special Collections for further information.

Digital Images
Patrons interested in obtaining digital images of materials in Archives and Special Collections adhere to the same policies and restrictions governing photocopy requests. Digital images are intended for personal research only and cannot be published without the consent of the appropriate copyright holders. 

Personal Digital Cameras
Patrons may be allowed to use personal digital cameras to take their own photographs of books and archival materials. Just as with photocopies and digital images, patrons must obtain permission from the Archives staff prior to shooting any digital images. These images are also intended only for personal research use and cannot be published without consent of the appropriate copyright holders.

Audio and Video Recordings
Patrons interested in making audio or video recordings of materials held by Archives and Special Collections should contact the Archives staff well in advance.

Duplication fees

Photocopies: Amherst College community $0.15 per page; all others $0.25 per page

Digital images: $5.00 per image

Postal orders: $5.00 handling and postage surcharge

Use Fees
We do not charge any use fees. Patrons are responsible for securing copyright permission prior to publication of any material held by the Archives & Special Collections.

Public Domain Materials: We do not charge any fees or claim any control over material in our collections for which copyright has expired.

Publication Requests
Although we do not charge publication fees, we ask patrons to notify the Archives prior to publication of any material held in our collections to insure accuracy of citations and credit lines. In some few instances, Amherst College holds the copyright for materials in our collections. Otherwise, it is the patron's responsibility to obtain permission from the appropriate copyright holder. The WATCH File, maintained by the University of Texas at Austin, is a valuable tool for identifying copyright holders.