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The answer to many commonly asked questions dealing with Special Collections can be found on our Reading Room Rules page. The following FAQs address questions specifically regarding the use of manuscripts.
We recommend that researchers intending to visit contact a member of the Manuscripts staff in advance to make arrangements for your research visit. Please be prepared to provide details about your research project, the collections you are interested in, and the dates that you would like to visit. Appropriate staff to contact:
No. Due to very limited on-site space most of our collections are stored off-site at the Harvard Depository.
Yes. We require at least one-and-a-half business days' notice to recall boxes. Boxes requested by 3:00 PM should be available by 2:00 PM the following business day.
We can retrieve a maximum of 10 boxes per day per researcher from off-site storage. Due to limited on-site storage space, we must also limit the total number of boxes held on site for any one researcher. There is no set maximum but we routinely request that researchers send boxes back before requesting additional boxes.
No, if a manuscript has been microfilmed or digitized (or if any facsimile is available) researchers must use the facsimile.
Requests for photocopies, microfilm, photographs, slides, scans, and transparencies are considered on a case-by-case basis. Permission depends upon the physical condition of the material in question, and should not be assumed in advance.
Please refer to our Reproduction Services page for more details.
Permission to publish portions of manuscript collections must be obtained from the Curator of Modern Manuscripts and Archives, Harvard Law School Library, Langdell Hall, Cambridge, MA 02138. Appropriate forms may be obtained from
Authors are reminded that, except in the cases of collections where the Library holds copyright (formerly called literary property rights), permission must also be obtained from the holder(s) of this right.
We are frequently asked to provide recommendations regarding what collection information to include in footnotes that reference our manuscripts.
Publishers, professional journals, and graduate faculties may prescribe their own style. Whatever sequence you decide upon, however, should be used consistently throughout the same work. We ask at a minimum that identification consist of the date and title of the item, name of the collection, location in the collection (if applicable), and the name of the repository.
Roscoe Pound to Louis Brandeis, December 28, 1936, The Papers of Louis Brandeis, Harvard Law School Library, Box 10, Folder 12.
Report to the Law School Faculty, May 1954, The Papers of Erwin Griswold, Harvard Law School Library, Box 54, Folder 4.
Rosika Schwimmer to Oliver Wendell Holmes, December 2, 1902, The Letters of Rosika Schwimmer, Small Manuscript Collection, Harvard Law School Library.
Moore, Francis, Sir. Reports of Cases in the King's Bench, HLS MS 2071, p. 23, Harvard Law School Library.
Aspinwall, John. Treatise on Forest Law, HLS MS 102, ff. 112-122, Harvard Law School Library.
Magna carta cum statutis, HLS MS 10, fo. 25r, Harvard Law School Library.
Quitclaim by John Lenew, Colchester, Essex, 10 May 1408, Deed 125, Harvard Law School Library.
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