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State Historical Society of Iowa
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Iowa History Research Centers

Whether you are an author, educator, student, reporter, curator, archeologist, preservationist, historian or genealogist, the Library and Archives Research Centers can help you achieve your research goals by providing access to 209 million documents, photographs, newspapers and more.

Begin your research by browsing the various collections, visiting the online catalog or learning about reference request services


Starting Saturday, July 13, the Iowa History Research Center days and hours of operation in Des Moines and Iowa City will be changing to the following new schedule:

Wednesday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The Research Centers do not require a scheduled appointment. However, scheduling an appointment in advance of your visit is highly recommended if you plan on researching our State Archives and Special Collections materials. You may schedule an appointment starting at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

  • Holiday Schedule for 2024
    • Closed Aug. 31, Nov. 9, Nov. 28-30, Dec. 25, 2024
    • Closed Jan. 1 & 18, 2025

State Historical Building
600 E. Locust St.
Des Moines, IA 50319
(515) 281-6200

Centennial Building
402 Iowa Ave.
Iowa City, IA 52240
(319) 335-3926

Collection Retrieval Schedule

Library collections including materials on microfilm and most books are browsable on the shelves. Patrons who are interested in accessing our State Archives and Special Collections or Library materials that are not on the open stacks are encouraged to make an appointment and advise staff two business days in advance about the materials they would like to research. Staff will advise patrons if it’s feasible to review all requested collections during a scheduled appointment. State archives materials are only available in Des Moines. Materials requested in advance by appointment will be ready when at the scheduled time. The retrieval schedule for materials requested the same day is as follows: 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. 

Policies & Procedures

The State Historical Society of Iowa team will assist you in the Library and Archives Research Center by directing you to pertinent collection guides, recommending sources of information, filling reproduction orders and scheduling additional research appointments. 

For the safety and well-being of other patrons and staff prior to your visit, if you are feeling unwell, please stay home and contact staff to reschedule your appointment. In preparation for your visit, following are the Library and Archives Research Centers safety guidelines, use policies and procedures, and a few tips to ensure you have a great research experience. 

Please contact us if you have any questions about your visit.

  • Make an appointment for your Library and Archives Research Center visit at least two days in advance and communicate to staff which collections from State Archives and Special Collections you need to research during your visit. For more information on our holdings please visit our collections page, general catalog and the library catalog.
  • Wearing a face mask during your visit is optional. Face masks are available at the reference desk.
  • To help preserve Iowa History Collections, wash your hands with soap and water rather than using alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
    Upon arrival, check in at the welcome desk.
  • Store your coat, purse, briefcase, fanny pack, equipment case or other similar items in one of the lockers provided. Lockers in Des Moines do not require quarters. Lockers in Iowa City take two quarters that are automatically refunded when you return the key. As a security measure, all personal notes and equipment are subject to search when you leave the center.
  • Bring a pencil. Pens or markers of any type are not permitted in the center. Pencils are provided.
  • Food and beverages are not allowed in the Library and Archives Research Center. In Des Moines a break area and vending machines are located on the 1st floor.
  • Smoking is prohibited in State Government Buildings and on the State Capitol Complex.
  • The materials you’ve requested will be ready for you to access in the Library and Archives Research Center.
  • Staff will reserve collections for patrons who have made appointments to use collections on a single day or across multiple and consecutive days.
  • Patrons should leave collection materials on the assigned table when finished and staff will reshelve.
  • Photocopy service is provided by staff. Copies of maps, manuscripts, photographs and state archives materials are available unless prohibited by state law, copyright or curatorial restrictions.
  • You may use an audio recorder, laptop, tablet or camera (without the flash). Please check with the staff to ensure your equipment doesn't inconvenience others. Microfilm readers in Des Moines and Iowa City have the ability to save materials to a flash drive.
  • All collections must stay in the Library and Archives Research Center and cannot be checked out or taken to another area of the building.
  • Collections from our other Research Center are sometimes available through interorganizational loans.

Visiting the Des Moines Research Center

The State Historical Building Accessibility & Pre-Visit Information provides detailed information to help prepare for your visit to the Des Moines Research Center.

Visiting the Iowa City Research Center

The Centennial Building Accessibility & Pre-Visit Information provides detailed information to help prepare for your visit to the Iowa City Research Center.


The State Historical Society of Iowa welcomes archives collection tours and Library & Archives Research Center orientations. To schedule a tour or orientation, please contact us.