If you are unable to physically visit an archives that holds the only copy of something you need, consider other ways to potentially access that information: call them, email them, write them a letter. Many archives will communicate with patrons who are unable to visit onsite. Recently I’ve obtained digital copies of materials by email communication with archival staff in Colorado and Nebraska.
A few reminders:
- Be polite.
- Try and be specific in your request.
- Do not send rambling emails with extraneous information–the archivist is there to help you find a document not a solution to your personal problems.
- View online inventories and finding aids, if available.
- Use online indexes and databases, if available.
- Be patient–you are not the only patron.
- Images or copies of records may not be free.
- Ask if there is something on the record you do not understand. The archivist may be able to give you a quick answer or refer you to someone else.
- The archivist is also under directive to preserve the records.