Using our collections

Public services

The Field Reading Room is open to all students, scholars and members of the general public who wish to use our materials. You do not need an appointment to come to Special Collections but you do need to page your materials in advance.  All users must register upon their first visit to Special Collections and University Archives:

Members of the Stanford community: Members should show a current Stanford I. D.

Non-Stanford users: Please bring a current government or university issued photo I.D.  For non-Stanford visitors wishing to make subsequent visits to Special Collections, a new pass will have to be obtained from Green Library for each day of access. To obtain a pass, please consult with a Green Library portal monitor. 

Request materials in advance

Since all of our materials are located in remote facilities, patrons must request materials two full business days before planned date of use. In some cases, paging may take up to a week. All of our materials can be paged online.  

Paging materials must take place via the Libraries’ online catalog, Searchworks, which also provides high level information about all of our collections. Searchworks may also provide links to finding aids (detailed collection guides) hosted by the Online Archive of California, as well as offer links to related online content, if any exists.

We recommend starting your search with Searchworks, then using the Online Archive of California to search across or within finding aids, to determine the specific boxes from a collection that you wish to examine. The Online Archive of California provides helpful information about searching finding aids. Remember that all requests to access materials must be made from within Searchworks.

Researching in the Field Reading Room

Make sure to review our reading room policies before you visit so you will know what to expect during your time with us. If you are not able to travel to campus to view materials, you may wish to consult our duplication page.


Photocopying is done by Special Collections staff only. The department reserves the right to refuse photocopy requests if the materials are fragile or may be damaged by the duplication process. Providing reproductions does not constitute permission to publish or reproduce images in print or electronic form. For more information regarding our duplication services, please our section on requesting copies. Please note that we do not reproduce entire books or manuscript boxes (or substantial portions of either) unless authorized.

Permission to publish or broadcast

Formal written permission is required from the Department of Special Collections and University Archives prior to publishing or rebroadcasting any item or work, in whole or in part, held by the Department. For permission to publish or quote from any of our materials, please submit your request to the department. More information can be found on our permissions page.

Not sure where to begin?

Access our basic guide to finding Special Collections & University Archives materials using Searchworks and the Online Archive of California.

Never used archival materials before?

Consult the Society of American Archivists' publication, Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research for useful tips.