Guidelines for Archive Access

Our materials are unique, often old, and sometimes brittle or easily damaged. We request that you respect these User Guidelines to help preserve the documents for future use.

Before you come to the Archives

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

Search our online finding aids 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.

Please contact us at, (956) 882-7968 (Brownsville), or (956) 665-2726 (Edinburg) before you come.

When you arrive at the Archives, you will be asked to submit a Registration form and a photo ID before you are allowed to view any materials. To protect our documents, you will only be allowed paper, pencils, and a laptop or tape recorder in Reading Room.


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, or tape recorders into the reading room. The Archives will provide paper and pencils if requested. You will be provided with a place to put your backpacks, purses, binders, books, jackets, or any other personal items. Cell phone use is not permitted. Cell phones with the capability to take digital photographs may not be used to take pictures of material without staff approval. 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.

Rules for Handling Archival Materials

The archival collections 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. Every researcher is responsible for assisting in the preservation of our documents. The following rules are intended to protect and preserve our archival materials to ensure that the information they contain is available for subsequent visitors. Patrons who carelessly handle materials may be denied further access.

Maintain order

The order and arrangement of the materials may be 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.

Handle with care

Researchers are asked to respect the fragile nature of the research material, to handle it with care.

  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 the photographic image.
  3. Keep the folder flat on the table. Documents are not to be placed in a lap or propped against the edge of the table.
  4. Turn pages slowly and carefully, touching only the margins if possible to prevent soiling the surface of the paper.
  5. Do not lean on or put undue pressure on documents. Do not put pages of note paper, note cards, or other objects on top of original material to take notes.
  6. 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.

Copying Policy and Procedure

You are allowed to make copies using your own digital camera. A camera stand is provided. Flash is not allowed.

Copyright and Publications

It is the researcher's responsibility to conform to all legal, literary, property rights, libel laws and copyright provisions attached to the materials used. The Special Collections & Archives Department will not be responsible for the infringement of any such laws. If you wish to duplicate materials for use in a publication or on a website, please speak with library staff. You must sign Copyright Compliance and Provisions for Use Form where you agree to abide by any copyright laws, and agree to provide Special Collections & Archives with a copy of whatever you published (report, article, etc.)