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Archival Institutions

Archival institutions have different registration and security procedures.  In most institutions, there will be a place to store coats, briefcases, large bags, packages and winter footwear.  Some institutions charge a user fee and some require the purchase of a special card that works in their photocopier.  In all archives, use pencils not pens and the use of tape recorders and computers may be restricted to certain places.  Eating and drinking may be permitted only in certain areas and never near records.  After registering and stowing away coats and briefcases, briefly explain to the staff your research needs, the name of the person you are researching, the county in which they lived, the period in which they lived, and the type of data you are looking for.  The staff may make suggestions to direct you to the most useful finding aids, printed sources, original records, or to another record or resource that might answer the questions being posed.

In archival institutions, some material is in its original form and some is on microfilm.  You may make photocopies for a nominal charge.  Handle historical documents with great care because they are usually very old and fragile.  Do not use a fountain pen or any other type of pen near records.  Use a pencil for making notes.  Place individual sheets of paper and maps on a flat surface and do not fold corners or moisten fingers when turning pages of a book or manuscript.  Do not open old books completely or you may damage fragile bindings.