The Emerson College Archives and Special Collections (ECASC) welcomes students, faculty, staff, and members of the public who wish to access our materials. Below we have listed the information necessary for patrons to plan a successful and safe visit to the archives.

Our staff are also available to provide limited remote assistance to researchers if in-person access to the archives is impossible.

Before making an appointment to visit the archives, and for more information on remote research, please read the resources and guidelines below. 

Hours, Appointments, and Research Assistance

ECASC is fortunate to have acquired a large number of institutional and special collections since its founding in 1984. The volume of this material has required us to store collections offsite and it can sometimes take two days or more to retrieve items. We therefore ask all patrons to make an appointment for in-person visits at least 24 hours in advance.

Our available in-person appointment hours are:

Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.***

*** Please note that during the summer we close at 2:00 p.m. on Fridays.

Staff will provide remote assistance during our standard work hours. This includes conducting limited research for patrons and, if appropriate, providing copies. Read more about our services and restrictions below in the Remote Access, Restrictions, and Copyright section of this page. 

To make an appointment or request remote research assistance, please email archives [at] (archives[at]emerson[dot]edu) or call us at 617-824-8301. Please give us as much information as possible about the research you are looking to do. By providing us with details about your research topic we can help you to find useful resources, and specifics about the boxes/resources you have already identified will allow us to retrieve those materials more quickly. 

Please include the following information when you contact us:

  • Name
  • Preferred Method of Contact
  • Emerson Affiliation, If Any
  • Research Question / Request for Service or Appointment
  • Other relevant information: Course name, assignment, project timeline, due date,

Guidelines for In-Person Use of ECASC Materials

Many of the collections held by ECASC are irreplaceable and/or fragile. We have developed a set of guidelines for use of our materials to help ensure that collections are not damaged during the research process. Some of the most important of these rules are listed below, and a detailed list is provided to patrons when they arrive at the Archives.

What You Can Bring to the Archives

Patrons may bring computers, cell phones, and cameras into the research room but must ask ECASC staff for permission before taking photographs of historical materials. No food, beverages, or gum may be out when patrons are using our collections. Researchers should bring pencils to the archives, as the use of other writing implements (pens, markers, etc.) is not permitted. Service animals are allowed in the archives, but no other animals are permitted. Masks must be worn at all times while on Emerson College grounds. 

How to Handle Materials

Patrons’ hands should be clean and lotion should not be applied immediately before handling collections. Fragile items should be handled with extreme care, and materials should always be laid flat on the research table rather than propped up or placed in the patron’s lap. Do not write on, fold, fasten, or place post-it notes on any archival materials. Do not trace materials or place paper/cards on top of materials when writing notes. Archives materials should not be removed from the archives research room. Materials should be kept in the order presented, and patrons should use “out” cards to mark the appropriate location of materials removed for viewing. Patrons may be required to use gloves for some types of fragile materials.


Patrons may take photographs or make other copies of ECASC materials only after receiving permission from an authorized staff member. Portable scanners may not be used. Patrons may also request photocopies of materials for a small fee. Permission to access, photograph, and/or copy ECASC materials does not constitute permission to publish. For more information about reproductions, permissions, and copyright, please see the Permissions, Reproductions, and Digital Access section below.

Restricted Items

Materials may be restricted for reasons related to legal and privacy concerns, item fragility, terms specified by the donor, or for other reasons. Staff will furnish information regarding the restriction of materials as requested.

In-Person & Remote Class Instruction

ECASC staff is happy to work with Emerson College faculty to develop instruction sessions and assignments involving archival and special collections. We ask that faculty contact us in advance so that we have enough time to properly plan these activities. See below for more information regarding the instruction services we offer and how much lead time is required.

We offer:

  • One-time in-person and zoom sessions introducing archives and special collections to students. Please contact us at least one month in advance so that we can plan for these sessions.
  • In-depth classroom instruction and support for assignments in-person, on zoom, and/or through other online platforms. This includes scheduling students to visit the archives for research appointments. Please contact us before the semester begins to allow for proper collaboration and planning.
  • Assistance with assignment creation using archival and special collections held within the Emerson Archives or other institutions. Please contact us before the semester begins to allow for proper collaboration and planning.

Archives staff may be able to provide digitized copies of materials for use by students and faculty, or to show physical materials live during an online presentation. Please see the Permissions, Reproductions, and Digital Access section of this page for detailed information. For more ideas regarding the use of archival and special collections in your online and in-person classes, please see the ECASC’s Archives & Primary Sources guide.

Permissions, Reproductions, and Digital Access

ECASC may offer publication permissions, temporary digital access, and/or reproductions of ECASC materials as long as there are no legal, donor-specified, item fragility, or other restrictions. Patrons must follow the instructions in the sections below.

Rights Disclaimer

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, USC) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, archives and libraries are authorized to furnish a photocopy or reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement.

In some cases, Emerson College may own physical or digital objects without owning all the associated rights. It is the direct responsibility of the patron to determine if copyright, publicity rights, privacy rights, etc. protect the item(s) requested. The permission granted by ECASC to view and/or reproduce archival materials does not constitute seeking permission from the owner(s) of these rights. 

Reproduction Requests

The Archives has developed a set of guidelines regarding copy requests we will and will not accept. Please note that these guidelines apply for both digital and physical copies unless otherwise stated.

  • All researchers seeking digital and/or physical copies of archival and special collections will be required to read, complete, and sign the Request for Reproductions/Application for Permission to Publish Form* before receiving access to material.
  • Patrons may take photographs of ECASC materials only after receiving permission from an authorized staff member. Portable scanners may not be used.
  • The archives will not provide full copies of copyrighted materials for which the archives does not hold a license or full copyright.
  • The archives will not typically fulfill requests for entire or significant portions of collections.
  • At this time we can only digitize VHS, Umatic, DVCAM, and cassette audiovisual materials. 
  • Fees may be associated with some copy requests. For more information, please see the Fees section below.

*Please contact us at archives [at] (archives[at]emerson[dot]edu) to obtain a copy of the form.


ECASC may offer publication permissions of ECASC materials as long as there are no legal, donor-specified, or other restrictions. Patrons must submit a completed Request for Reproductions/Application for Permission to Publish* indicating how materials will be used and by whom, as well as agreeing to abide by ECASC’s terms and conditions. We will respond with any questions still needing to be answered, information about associated fees, and next steps.

*Please contact us at archives [at] (archives[at]emerson[dot]edu) to obtain a copy of the form.

Temporary, View-Only Digital Access

To provide increased access to your collections, ECASC may provide temporary, view-only access to some of our holdings that are not publicly available online. All requests to receive this type of access must be submitted through the Digital Researcher Agreement*. For approved requests, ECASC will provide access for a single weekday (Monday through Friday) during our normal business hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.. For more information, please see the terms laid out in the agreement. 

*Please contact us at archives [at] (archives[at]emerson[dot]edu) to obtain a copy of the form.


ECASC charges fees for some research and reproduction services as well as for publication permissions. We have developed a fee structure for patrons to review. If you have any questions, please contact us at archives [at] (archives[at]emerson[dot]edu) or 617-824-8301.

Please note that all requests for reproductions and permissions must be made using the Request for Reproductions/Application for Permission to Publish*.

*Please contact us at archives [at] (archives[at]emerson[dot]edu) to obtain a copy of the form.