State Archives  > Hours, Directions & Fees > Research Room Procedures
Research Room Procedures

All Visitors

  1. You need to register only once. The first time you use the Research Room you will be asked to complete a registration form and show identification that indicates your permanent address. Once you have registered you will not need to do so again until the registration form expires. Currently, registration forms do not expire.
  2. Children are welcome. Those under 14 should be accompanied by an adult.
  3. Feel free to bring certain digital devices.
    1. You may use a laptop computer. There are outlets available throughout the Research Room.
    2. You may use a digital camera without a flash. If you wish to publish (in print or online) any of your pictures, you must complete a Use of Reproductions form (PDF) to acknowledge that you are responsible for securing copyright permissions. The Archives does not own every document or image in its collection, and reproducing a copyrighted image could expose you to liability. The Use of Reproductions form provides further information.
  4. Certain items cannot be accommodated in the Research Room. Our primary goal is to protect the records, so certain things are not permitted into the Research Room.
    1. Personal belongings are not permitted in the research area. Coats, hats, handbags, purses, knapsacks, laptop bags, other types of bags, and other personal belongings must remain outside the research area. Coat racks and keyed lockers are provided immediately outside the research room. Lockers require you to insert one quarter, which is returned when you retrieve your belongings.
    2. Food and drink are prohibited.
    3. You may not use personal copiers, scanners, tape recorders, or other recording devices in the Research Room.
    4. You must use pencil in the Research Room.
  5. You may not remove original documents or microfilm from the Research Room. If you attempt to do so, you will be prosecuted under Act 95 (1982), the Libraries/Archives Security Act. Your folders, notes, and notebooks will be inspected by an Archives staff member before you leave the Research Room.
  6. As you research, be aware of Fair Use and Citation Elements listed below.
  7. You may bring one notebook or folder of notes into the main research room. All other items must be deposited in a locker or on the coat rack in the lobby.

If You Use Original Records

  1. Certain original records have been microfilmed and will be provided in that format. If a record is especially fragile or valuable, you will be asked to use a microfilm copy of the record. If your research requires you to see the original record, your request must first be approved by an Archives administrator authorized to do so. We may ask you to put your request in writing.
  2. Certain original records cannot be copied. Certain records—especially those with fragile bindings, very large materials, and light-sensitive photographs—are too fragile or unwieldy to be photocopied without damaging the item; a few may not be able to be scanned. The Archives reserves the right to refuse to copy such materials. The Archives staff will work with you to explain the prohibition and to explore alternatives.
  3. You may request multiple containers and/or volumes at one time (limited to what will fit on one cart). Complete a separate Call Slip for each container or volume you wish to see. The Research Room attendant will help you complete the Call Slip if you have questions.
  4. You will be asked to help us protect the historical records by following a few simple rules. Remember that our goal is to preserve these records for hundreds of years; even modern records can be damaged by mishandling.
    1. Keep original records flat on the desk at all times.
    2. Open only one folder or volume at a time.
    3. Do not rearrange materials. If you believe there is a problem with the arrangement, notify the Research Room attendant.
    4. Do not place your writing materials on top of the records, or make tracings or rubbings, or stack records on top of each other.
  5. If you want to see restricted records, you must make an appointment. Some records in the Archives are restricted by law, as noted in the finding aids. If you want to see such records you must make an appointment so that the proper clearances can be obtained in advance. Call the Reference Section at 717-783-3281 for more information.

Fair Use and Citation Elements

Fair Use

The State Archives does not own the copyright or the publication rights to every document in its collections. If you publish or quote from any records at that archives, it is your responsibility to comply with any donor restrictions and with the Fair Use provisions of the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code).

Citation Elements

If you quote from records you find at the State Archives, please include as many of the following elements as possible in your footnote and bibliographic citations. This will help us find the item when someone sees your citation and wishes to view the original record:

  • Title of the item
  • A specific page, entry, or file number
  • Series title and number
  • Record Group (RG) or Manuscript Group (MG) number and title
  • The words: Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg


Hickory Ridge Colliery, January 1904-November 1904, p. 34. Pay Roll Ledgers (series #463m.1); MG-463, Susquehanna Coal Company Records, 1901-1915. Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg.

In this example,

  • Title of the item: Hickory Ridge Colliery
  • A specific page, entry, or file number: January 1904-November 1904, p. 34.
  • Series title and number: Pay Roll Ledgers (series #463m.1)
  • Record Group (RG) or Manuscript Group (MG) number and title: MG-463, Susquehanna Coal Company Records, 1901-1915
  • The words: Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg.