Research Remotely: Using the Archives Anywhere & Everywhere

Although the Archives & Special Collections is closed to in-person research due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our staff are still available to provide remote assistance to researchers.  For more information about how to access the Emerson College Archives & Special Collections (ECASC) remotely, please view our resources and guidelines below.

Research Assistance

The archives staff are available to assist you with reference requests 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.  This includes requests for classroom instruction, digitization, and research questions.  Please do not hesitate to contact us at archives [at] or to contact staff members individually. Please note that we are prioritizing requests from the current Emerson community (faculty, staff, and students), so there may be a delay in our response particularly for external requests.

Please include the following information when you contact us:

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

If you are looking to view physical records, please see the Remote Access, Restrictions, and Copyright section below.

Online Resources

The Archives has digital resources publicly available to help patrons conduct research remotely:

  • Digital exhibits, timelines, and collections related to Emerson history as well as digitized special collections focusing on such subjects as journalism, American comedy, and theatre.
  • A database with guides to many of our collections that can help you to easily search for materials that might be useful to your research.
  • Lists of physical and digital collections at other institutions that might be useful to individuals seeking to conduct research using our materials.

Remote Access, Restrictions, and Copyright

ECASC will make every effort to provide fair access to our physical collections while we are working remotely.  Although we are not accepting in-person appointments, when possible we will provide digital access to requested materials.  Access to some materials is restricted due to privacy concerns, donor agreements, copyright issues, or other reasons.  Please see Archives’ Access and Restriction Policy and College Copyright Policy for more information.

Guidelines for Staff Fulfillment of Copy 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 view-only or downloadable access to archival and special collections will be required to read, complete, and physically sign the Request for Reproductions/Application for Permission to Publish Form before receiving access to material.
  • The archives will not provide full reproductions of copyrighted materials for which the archives does not hold a license or full copyright.
  • The archives will not fulfill requests for entire or significant portions of collections.
  • The archives will not copy an entire unpublished manuscript or proof.
  • In general, patrons are limited to 25 watermarked scans or paper copies per reference request.  Exceptions may be made for special circumstances.
  • At this time we can only digitize VHS, Umatic, and cassette audiovisual materials.  Approved requests will be limited to one hour of content.
  • Please allow 2 to 4 weeks for approved copy requests to be fulfilled.
  • Fees may be associated with some copy requests.


ECASC may offer publication permissions and/or digital reproductions of ECASC materials as long as there are no legal, donor-specified, item fragility, or other restrictions.  Patrons must submit a completed Request for Reproductions/Application for Permission to Publish Form 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 Note:  It is the direct responsibility of the researcher 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.

Remote Class Instruction

ECASC staff is happy to work with Emerson College faculty to develop online instruction sessions and assignments involving archival and special collections.  We offer:

  • One-time 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 through Zoom and other online platforms.  Please contact us at the beginning of the semester to allow for proper collaboration and planning.
  • Assistance with assignment creation using archival and special collections held within the Emerson Archives or other institutions.

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 Remote Access, Restrictions, and Copyright section of this page for detailed information.  For more ideas regarding the use of archival and special collections in your online classes, please see the library’s guide for distance teaching.