Covid-19 Update for Gutman Library Special Collections

Gutman Library Special Collections has resumed limited in-person visits by appointment to our reading room. Librarians are reaching out to researchers with pending requests to schedule visits. Following the HGSE Policy on Visitors, we are open only to faculty, students, and staff with a current Harvard University ID. Please submit questions or concerns via our Ask Us form.


To use our collections, you must register as a researcher by setting up a HOLLIS Special Request Account. This account allows you to:

  • Submit requests automatically via links in our online catalog, HOLLIS 
  • Submit requests from our off-site collections before you visit
  • Submit orders for reproductions including digital scans of special collections materials
  • Track the status of your requests
  • Access detailed information about past requests
  • Gain access to all Harvard Library’s special collections repositories that use HOLLIS Special Request

Discovering Our Collections

Just getting started? See our Collections Overview for links to collection descriptions with tips for searching cataloged collections in HOLLIS.

Questions? Use our Gutman Ask Us form. For in-depth assistance, make an appointment with Special Collections & Research Librarian Carla Lillvik.

Visiting Special Collections

Before you visit

1. Request materials 

2. Schedule an appointment  

  • Plan ahead! All visits to Special Collections require an appointment.  
  • Appointment times are limited and subject to staff availability. We will do our best to accommodate your needs. 
  • Note: due to a renovation, currently we can accommodate only one researcher at a time. 

3. Review handling guidelines 

When you visit

  • You must follow Harvard University's indoor mask protocol. 
  • Proceed to the main desk on Gutman’s 2nd floor and let staff know that you have a Special Collections appointment. 

In Gutman Library

When you arrive on the 2nd floor, Special Collections staff will:

  • Greet you and help you to store coats, backpacks, purses, and other materials not needed for research.
  • Orient you to Special Collections procedures and review handling guidelines. Note: due to a renovation, we do not have a formal reading room, but will provide a comfortable space for you to view materials.

During your visit:

  • You’re welcome to bring pencils, laptops, tablets, phones (in silent mode), digital cameras, and other materials to assist in your research.
  • Personal books or papers are allowed only if these items are necessary for immediate research.
  • We do not permit the use of pens, tripods, scanners, camera flashes, special lighting, or any other equipment that rests directly on collection material or may pose a risk of damage.  
  • The HGSE campus provides wireless access. Use these instructions for connecting to the HGSE network.   
  • For information about taking photographs at the library see Making and Requesting Copies

Making and Requesting Copies

In Gutman Library

  • You're welcome to photograph most materials. Some collections may be subject to donor stipulations that limit or prohibit photography. Researchers are asked not to take pictures of other patrons or the library. Laptops and tablets are permitted; flatbed scanners are not.

Submitting requests through HOLLIS Special Request 

Requests for digital images 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. On-site researchers may take digital photos to assist with note taking. 

  • Use the copy form in HOLLIS Special Request to make all requests. Learn more about making copy requests with HOLLIS Special Request.   
  • A Special Collections staff member will review your request and be in touch with you about fees and a timeline. We reserve the right to deny reproduction requests due to copyright concerns, donor restrictions, condition of the materials, or other reasons.  

Teaching with Our Collections

To work with us to incorporate our Special Collections into your teaching, please use the Special Collections and Archives Class Request Tool.