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We welcome Princeton University students, faculty, staff, and visiting researchers to explore the holdings of the Department of Special Collections. The information on this page will help you get started with your research.
Please note: At this time, due to COVID, the Special Collections reading rooms are only open to members of the Princeton University community who have access to campus buildings. As of August 30, 2021, there is no need to make an appointment. We look forward to the day when we can again welcome all researchers back to the library.
You can start your research through our various online discovery tools. We’ve highlighted the most commonly used tools here:
- Use the Finding Aids Database to locate archival material. Use the Online Catalog to locate printed material and other special collections items. Many of our digitized materials can be found in these resources.
- DPUL and PUDL are also both great ways to browse some of our digitized collections.
- Looking for a senior thesis or dissertation? It may already be digitized and available through DataSpace or ProQuest. If it’s not already digitized, you can place a request through the Senior Thesis Order Form.
Once you’ve discovered the materials that are relevant for your research, we offer several access options.
Email Reference: You are always welcome to send us a message through our Ask Us! form. If you have a simple question or just require information verification, drop us a note and we can help you find the answer.
Digitization: You can place a digitization request for most materials in the collection via our Ask Us! form. Details about our digitization program can be found on our Digitization and Publication Services page. This is also where you will find our Copyright, Credit and Citation Guidelines.
Virtual Reference: You are welcome to request a virtual consultation with a staff member who can review collection materials with you over Zoom. Consultations are limited to 1 hour. This is a great way to get a sense of what’s in the collection or to help you narrow down a digitization request. You can request a virtual reference consultation by contacting us through the Ask Us! form.
For Fall 2021, members of the Princeton University community who have access to campus buildings are welcome to use the Special Collections reading rooms. We ask that you complete the online registration form to set up your Special Collections Research Account, if you do not already have one. This account is how you will request material to the reading room. As of August 30, 2021, there is no need to make an appointment. While you can register and request materials upon arrival in Special Collections, we recommend doing so in advance of your visit.
Requesting Materials: You can use the finding aids database or library catalog to find and request materials. You may request as many items as you’d like and keep them in your account. Materials will be paged upon your arrival to the reading room, and you can let staff know at that time the order you’d like to review the collections. You’ll be able to have 1-6 items at a time at your reading room desk depending on the format. Staff will review with you how best to handle each item during your visit.
To learn more about what to expect during your research visit, please review our Reading Room Guidelines. You are welcome to take your own digital images of most of the collections. More details can be found on the Digital Camera Use in the Reading Room page.
If you have any questions or concerns during your visit, do not hesitate to speak with a staff member or send us a message through the Ask Us! form.