For most of our visitors, visiting an archive is a rare and unusual experience. Although archives bear superficial similarities to libraries, our approach to providing access to the materials under our care is very different. For one thing, although a library book can be checked out, items held in an archive often cannot leave the premises. That means any work you need to do with an item from our collection will need to be done in our Reading Room, which is located in JSAC-1255.

Because of the rarity, fragility, and nature of our materials, there are a few guidelines to bear in mind. We also have some policies you should be aware of. If this is your first time visiting us, please review this page carefully and e-mail us when appropriate.

Before you visit

99.9% of the Archives collection is now off-site as Gallaudet University prepares to replace the Merrill Learning Center. Because of this, most materials must be requested at least two business days in advance to allow time for delivery.

To help facilitate the smoothest possible experience for you, we need to ask that you contact us at least two weeks in advance of your visit. The advance-notice requirement is not a hard-and-fast rule, and we will not deny anyone entry because of short notice. However, you will risk wasting your time because the materials you want are not available, or we have not had time to ensure that an Archives staff member is available to open the room and assist you with the materials.

Additionally, it is very possible that the material you seek is already available in one of our digital collections. Contacting us well in advance allows us to help you maximize your time as much as possible.

When you contact us, please be prepared with the best list you can develop of the materials you want to see, and with your planned research schedule.

This is important because our current hours are limited due to the need to manage staffing both on campus and at our off-site storage location. We are available at other times, but to make this possible, we need to coordinate our schedules.

Additionally, your research schedule should include an estimate of what you will be viewing on each visit. This is because due to space limitations and a high level of interest in our materials, we have implemented the following policies:

  • The number of boxes a visitor can have an active request for at any moment is limited to:
    • 10 document cases, OR
    • 5 standard-size record boxes, OR
    • 5 flat boxes of any kind.
  • We will only hold requested materials for a maximum of two weeks. If you are not able to be present within that period, the materials you have requested will be returned.
  • All requests must be placed a minimum of 2 business days in advance of their anticipated use.

We often work with researchers from all over the United States and the world who travel great distances to use our materials and have limited time to do so while they are here, so those researchers will often receive priority and some flexibility regarding the above policies.

Regardless of your personal situation, we always strongly encourage you to communicate and to plan for more time than you think you need.

During your visit

Because of the fragility and rarity of our materials, we ask that during your visit, you abide by the following guidelines:

  • No food or drink is permitted in JSAC-1255.
  • Bags and other personal items should remain on the floor, not on the table.
  • No pens are permitted. We are able to provide number 2 pencils on request.
  • Cloth gloves will be provided to handle photographs, older documents, and rare books.
  • Care must be taken when handling paper-based items.
  • Scanning for paper-based documents and microfilm is available, but will be supervised or assisted when necessary.
  • No flash photography allowed. You may use your phone camera if the flash is turned off (not on Auto).

Contact Us


King Jordan Student Academic Center 1255

(202) 250-2604

** By Appointment Only **

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