The ACT Archives and Special Collections are open to the public, and freely accessible. ACT welcomes and encourages requests from anyone within or outside the MIT community.

Research appointments

The ACT Archives & Special Collections Reading Room is open to all, regardless of institutional affiliation, for use of our collections. Our collections are original, unique and/or rare.  We ask all users to help us keep the materials safe and secure by observing the following policies and procedures. All materials must be used within the Reading Room; items do not circulate. Many items are digitized and may be available to you online, if you are unable to come in person. Please contact the ACT Archivist to arrange an appointment or request digital copies of materials.

The repository is located at:
20 Ames Street
Building E15-235
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139

Map

Before you visit

  • Before planning your visit, please email the ACT Archivist to set up a time and date.
  • For questions about our materials or help researching specific people or topics, contact us at the Archive.
  • Archival materials should be requested a week in advance of your visit via email.
  • Review the items below to learn what is and isn’t allowed to be used during your visit.

Personal items which may be used:

  • Laptops and/or tablets
  • A bound notebook and/or book(s) for reference purposes (must be logged with staff at the service desk)
  • Camera and/or cell phone camera
  • Power cords and chargers
  • Personal notes (we encourage the use of paper provided at the Service Desk, all other loose materials will be stamped for admittance)
  • Pencils (provided)

 Items which may not be used:

  • Pens/ink
  • Backpacks, bags, cases, covers, envelopes or enclosures, eye-glass cases, folders, luggage, purses, and other containers (must be placed in a locker or on the coat rack)
  • Our reading room temperature fluctuates. Layers of clothing such as jackets, sweaters and scarves, may be advisable for comfort.

When you arrive

  • As a limited-access reading room, our entrance door is kept locked and you will need to buzz in to enter.
  • We’ll greet you upon entry and have you sign in. You must sign in and out with the date and time noted every time you enter or exit the reading room.
  • Eating and drinking in the Reading Room are not allowed. This includes water, candy, cough drops, and gum. Please dispose of open food and drink, including coffee cups, outside of the room.
  • Coat racks and lockers are available for use and clear plastic bags are available to help you carry personal belongings to your seat.
  • We provide and encourage the use of hand wipes before working with collections.

During your visit

  • The MIT “GUEST” wireless network does not require a password and is open to all on campus.
  • Please help us maintain a quiet environment by turning off the sound on your electronic devices; use headphones; take cell phone calls outside; keep conversations low or step outside.
  • Users may use cell phones or cameras without a flash to take photographs of collections materials for study, scholarship, or research purposes only, and as allowed by copyright law.
  • The use of personal scanners and camera stands are not allowed in the Reading Room without prior permission.
  • We will explain any special handling procedures for materials when items are served.
  • Materials may not be leaned on, written on, folded, traced from, or handled in any way likely to damage them. Users may be required to use microfilm, printed, or electronic copies of manuscripts or books when such copies are available.
  • Users will receive one box or item at a time. We ask that you use only one folder at a time from a given box and that the folders and folder contents not be reorganized.
  • Let us know if you need anything to help facilitate your work. We maintain tools for use such as magnifying glasses, ruler, tape measure, lightbox, or other equipment as we have many such items available for use.

Use of MIT-owned materials

Permission to examine collection materials in person or remotely (by receiving transfers of digitized materials) does not imply or grant permission to publish or exhibit those materials. Permission to publish, exhibit, or otherwise use collection materials is granted on a case by case basis in accordance with MIT policy, restrictions that may have been placed on materials by donors or depositors, and copyright law. To request permission to publish, exhibit, or otherwise use collection materials, contact the Archivist. When permission is granted by MIT, patrons must comply with all guidelines provided by ACT for citations, credits, and copyright statements. Exclusive rights to examine or publish material will not be granted.

Fees:

ACT reserves the right to charge an hourly rate for requests that require more than three hours of research on behalf of a patron (remote requests). Collection materials may be scanned and made available upon request, but digitization of certain materials may incur costs. Additionally, requests to publish, exhibit, or otherwise reproduce and display collection materials may incur use fees.

Citations and Copyright

  • Cite a manuscript or archival collection, see example below.*
    • [Identification of item], [Date of Item], [Collection title], [Box number], [Folder number], [Folder title]. ACT Archives and Special Collections, MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Learn about publication and permission information – visit the MIT Libraries’ Copyright Permissions Policy.
  • Request a high resolution image to use in publication. Contact the ACT Archivist to request images for publication.

*Please note that some collections may not yet have been processed and may undergo weeding and rearrangement after your use.