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Special Collections & University Archives: Research Services & Guidelines

In an effort to keep our patrons and staff members safe from the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), Special Collections & Archives will be closed to the public until further notice, which includes the temporary suspension of in-person research consultations and visits. 
During this time, our staff will happy to assist you by email

Copyright Considerations

The University Library does not own the copyright in much of the material in its collection and is therefore unable to grant copyright permission to publish those items. It is the researcher's responsibility to determine copyright and other possible restrictions on reuse (e.g. publicity, privacy, moral rights) and to obtain proper permission when publishing or distributing materials found in these collections.

Researchers must make their own assessments of rights in light of their intended use. Please see our Digital Collections Rights and Usage Statement for more information.

Research Consultations

Research consultations are available by appointment only in Brownsville and Edinburg for researchers and visiting scholars, who are interested in our collections. Please read our guidelines below before requesting a research assistance.


Before Your Visit

Preparation for your Visit

Check published sources to gain as much information about your topic as possible, including names, dates, and places.

Search our online finding aids (for archival materials) and online catalog (for books, newspapers, maps) to find out what resources we have. If you don't find what you are looking for, we have additional collections which have not yet been described online.

Background Research

To maximize your time at Special Collections & University Archives background research will be conducted by library staff ahead of your visit. Therefore, the more information you can provide in advance, the better, i.e., full names, dates, places, and specific documents. If you can provide us with box information from the finding aid, that is even better. This will allow you to use your time wisely when you are here, and may prevent you from making unnecessary trips.

Feel free to call 956.882.7968 (Brownsville) or 956.665.2726 (Edinburg), or email us at for further assistance.

During Your Visit

When you arrive at the Archives, you will be asked to submit a Registration form and present a photo ID before you are allowed to view materials. You will only be allowed paper, pencils, cell phones, cameras, laptop and audio recorders in the Reading Room to ensure the security of materials. Therefore, non-approved personal belongings will need to be stored during your visit.

Researcher Registration

Researchers are required to register on their first visit. You must agree to abide by these guidelines and policies before you are given any materials. You will be asked to show photo identification, and fill out a registration form.

Personal Belongings

For the safe-keeping of our documents, patrons are only permitted to bring paper, pencils (no pens), laptops, cameras, and audio recorders into the reading room. We will provide paper and pencils if requested. You will be provided with lockers to put your backpacks, purses, binders, books, jackets, or any other personal items. Cell phone use (other than camera use) is not permitted. Archival materials may not be removed from the Reading Room. All personal items used in the Reading Room are subject to being searched as you leave.

Archival materials are shelved in closed stacks. A staff member will bring the materials to you. All materials housed in Archives are to remain within the Reading Room. At no time are materials allowed outside of the Reading Room.

Our materials are unique, often old, and sometimes brittle or easily damaged. Therefore, every researcher is responsible for assisting in the preservation of our documents by adhering to our policies for careful handling and care of research materials. Patrons who carelessly handle materials may be denied further access.

Maintain Original Order of Materials

The order and arrangement of the materials are important to a researcher. Follow these rules to maintain that order:

  1. Only one folder may be removed from a box a time.
  2. Use a document marker to hold its place in the box.
  3. Pages will stay in order if turned like the pages of a book.
  4. Items are not to be removed from the folder.
  5. If you find any problems (such as pages out of order, torn or marked pages), notify a staff member. Do not try to fix or rearrange the items yourself.
  6. If you find any materials that are stapled together, please notify a staff member. Do not try to remove any staples yourself.

Careful Handling

Researchers are asked to respect the fragile and often ephemeral nature of the research material by handling it with care to prevent harm and ensure preservation

  1. Documents must be handled only with clean, dry hands.
  2. For particularly vulnerable materials such as historical photographs, staff will provide cotton gloves. At all times, please avoid touching the surface of any photographic image, slide, or other graphic material.
  3. Keep the folder flat on the table. Documents are not to be placed in a lap or propped unless instructed to do so by staff.
  4. Turn one page at a time slowly and carefully, touching only the margins if possible to prevent damaging, tearing, or soiling the surface of the paper.
  5. Do not lean on or put undue pressure on documents.
  6. Do not put pages of note paper, note cards, or other objects on top of original material to take notes.
  7. Do not use post-it notes, fold pages, trace, add or erase marks from materials, or handle in any way likely to result in damage.
Failure to comply with these rules may result in denial of access to the collections. Theft or mutilation of the holdings is a crime that may be prosecuted. These rules are enforced to ensure the protection of the unique materials.

After Your Visit


Please use the following format for citation of archival materials used in research and publication:

[Title of Collection]; [item description], [dates]. [Number of Collection], Box [#], Folder [#], [name of item, e.g. Photograph of McAllen, 1951]. University Library, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, [Edinburg or Brownsville], Texas. 

Licensing and Reproductions

If you would like to use one or more of Special Collections & University Archives' resources for publication, whether in print or online, you must fill out a licensing and reproduction form. Please complete the Agreement for Use of Reproductions of Materials and email it as an attachment to Feel free to contact us for additional assistance or to address your questions and concerns.