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Modern Manuscripts - FAQ

 

The answer to many commonly asked questions dealing with Historical & Special Collections can be found on our Reading Room Policies page. The following FAQs address questions specifically regarding the use of manuscripts.
Whom should I contact about accessing manuscripts?

Are the collections stored on-site?

Do I need to contact Historical & Special Collections in advance if I would like to consult manuscript boxes?

How much material can I request at any one time?

If a manuscript has been microfilmed or digitized can I still access the original?

Is it possible to have photocopies made?

What permissions are required to quote from or publish a manuscript from the Harvard Law Library's collection?

How should I cite manuscripts?

Whom should I contact about accessing manuscripts?  

Please e-mail specialc@law.harvard.edu to set up an appointment. Be prepared to provide details about your research project, the collections you are interested in, and the dates and times that you would like to visit. Specific modern manuscript questions can be sent to: 

Are the collections stored on-site?  

No. Due to very limited on-site storage space, most of our collections are stored off-site at the Harvard Depository.

Do I need to contact Historical & Special Collections in advance if I would like to consult manuscript boxes?  

Yes. We require at least two business days' notice to recall boxes from the Harvard Depository. Please email specialc@law.harvard.edu to set up an appointment and request material.

How much material can I request at any one time?

We can retrieve a maximum of 10 boxes per day per researcher from off-site storage. Due to limited on-site storage space, we must limit the total number of boxes held on site for any one researcher. There is no set maximum but we routinely request that researchers send boxes back before requesting additional boxes.

If a manuscript has been microfilmed or digitized can I still access the original?

No, if a manuscript has been microfilmed or digitized (or if any facsimile is available) researchers must use the facsimile.

Is it possible to have photocopies made?  

Requests for photocopies, microfilm, photographs, slides, scans, and transparencies are considered on a case-by-case basis. Permission depends upon the physical condition of the material in question, and should not be assumed in advance.

Please refer to our Reproduction Services page for more details.

What permissions are required to quote from or publish a manuscript from the Harvard Law Library’s collection?  

Permission to publish portions of manuscript collections must be obtained from the Curator of Modern Manuscripts, Harvard Law School Library, Langdell Hall, Cambridge, MA 02138. Appropriate forms may be obtained from

Authors are reminded that, except in the cases of collections where the Library holds copyright (formerly called literary property rights), permission must also be obtained from the holder(s) of this right. 

How should I cite manuscripts?  

We are frequently asked to provide recommendations regarding what collection information to include in footnotes that reference our manuscripts.

Publishers, professional journals, and graduate faculties may prescribe their own style. Whatever sequence you decide upon, however, should be used consistently throughout the same work. We ask at a minimum that identification consist of the date and title of the item, name of the collection, location in the collection (if applicable), and the name of the repository.

  • Citations from the Modern Manuscript Collection:

    Roscoe Pound to Louis Brandeis, December 28, 1936, The Papers of Louis Brandeis, Harvard Law School Library, Box 10, Folder 12.

    Report to the Law School Faculty, May 1954, The Papers of Erwin Griswold, Harvard Law School Library, Box 54, Folder 4.

  • Citations from the Small Manuscript Collection:

    Rosika Schwimmer to Oliver Wendell Holmes, December 2, 1902, The Letters of Rosika Schwimmer, Small Manuscript Collection, Harvard Law School Library.

  • Citations from the Early Manuscript Collection:

    Moore, Francis, Sir. Reports of Cases in the King's Bench, HLS MS 2071, p. 23, Harvard Law School Library.

    Aspinwall, John. Treatise on Forest Law, HLS MS 102, ff. 112-122, Harvard Law School Library.

    Magna carta cum statutis, HLS MS 10, fo. 25r, Harvard Law School Library.

  • Citations from the English Deeds Collection:

    Quitclaim by John Lenew, Colchester, Essex, 10 May 1408, Deed 125, Harvard Law School Library.

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