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State Historical Society of Iowa
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Reference Requests

The Historical Library and Archives Iowa History Research Centers are open every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. While the Research Centers do not require a scheduled appointment, scheduling an appointment in advance of your visit is highly recommended if you plan on accessing our State Archives and Special Collections materials. You may also schedule an appointment starting at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Please use our online form to book an appointment.

Staff also assist researchers who are not able to visit one of our centers in person when they use our Reference Request Form. In the form you can:

  • Ask specific questions about Historical Library and Archives collections.
  • Request copies of specific images, pages from documents, books, periodicals, manuscripts, images, audio and video recordings, newspaper articles, obituaries and much more.
  • Request reproductions of entire periodical articles or a book chapter. (Note: Allowable only if the item requested for duplication is not currently copyright protected.)
  • Indicate the time-sensitive nature of your request.

For questions that require in-depth reference beyond the resources of State Historical Society of Iowa Library and Archives staff, you may want to visit our Research Centers in person or consult the list of independent researchers. These individuals provide research assistance for a fee. While the majority specialize in genealogy, some conduct various types of historical investigation. We do not endorse any particular individual on the list. Any agreement with an independent researcher is solely between you and the independent researcher.

Fulfilling Your Request

After submitting the Reference Request Form our team will review your request and send an initial response within five business days. Because we receive a large volume of requests, it may be several weeks before we can respond to you. You will be notified if the information you are seeking cannot be found. Depending on the request’s complexity, you, or a representative on your behalf, may need to visit in person to conduct research.

  • Reference Fees – If your request requires extensive reference, additional charges may be incurred starting at $20.00. You will be provided with a cost estimate to approve prior to our staff beginning the work. Included in the fee are up to 10 complimentary photocopies and shipping.
  • Additional Charges – Additional charges may be incurred if extra or specialized work is associated with your request including, but not limited to, more photocopies, photographs and document scans.
  • Payment – Do not send payment until you are requested to do so by the staff. All payments are required in advance before work begins on your request.

Staff are unable to fulfill a reference request in the following instances:

  • When release of information or materials are restricted by United States copyright, Federal or State law or donor agreements.
  • When qualified staff and/or equipment to reproduce the material(s) is not available.
  • When the condition of the material(s) is fragile.

Additional Services

Independent Researchers

Historical Library and Archives staff are not able to provide any general, complex or broad-based reference services.  To answer these types of questions, you should visit one of the Research Centers in person or consult the list of independent researchers. Any independent researcher agreement must be solely between you and the independent researcher.