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State Historical Society of Iowa
Records Storage

Iowa Open Records

The Department of Cultural Affairs provides access to public records created by the department itself as well as records created by other state agencies that are in the legal and physical custody of the State Archives.

You may submit a formal request to examine and copy a public record by accessing the Open Records Portal.

If you're a news reporter requesting access to current Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs agency records, please email your request directly to the public information officer, submit it through the U.S. Postal Service or call 515-725-1141.

For all other requests for historical and governmental records in the State Historical Society of Iowa collection, please use the online research request form, mail the request through the U.S. Postal Service, call 515-281-6200 or visiting the Research Center at the State Historical Building of Iowa, 600 E. Locust St., Des Moines, Iowa, 50319.

The government records information you seek may already be accessible on the State’s Open Records Portal. Before submitting a request, please use the Open Records Portal to determine if the records you seek have already been published.

When submitting a new request for open government records, be sure to clearly define the subject matter in the records you would like to see. Please use search terms that are as specific as possible. For example, “I would like copies of all correspondence between [SPECIFIC EMPLOYEE] about [SPECIFIC SUBJECT] from a [START DATE] to [END DATE].” Our staff will first review the submitted request and then follow up as necessary to help you find the most relevant information possible.

You can expect to receive a response to your initial request within three business days, and most requests are completed within 20 business days. If the process takes longer than that, our staff will update you about our progress.

Any expenses associated with an open records request shall be paid by the person who requests them, according to the following guidelines:

  • Our staff will generate an estimate of all costs and obtain your authorization before fulfilling your request.
  • You may be asked to pay for your search before our staff starts to work on it.
  • Our staff will provide 1 hour of complimentary service to search the records, assemble them and then review them to determine if the records can be released as is or if some information will need to be redacted in order to comply with Iowa Code Chapter 22.7.
  • Any additional staff time beyond 1 hour will be charged at a rate of $20 per half-hour.
  • Our staff usually delivers electronic records digitally and will generally photocopy paper records only.
  • The first 10 copied/scanned pages of records are free of charge. Any additional pages are $0.25 per page.
  • The open government records request process and fees are separate from other types of patron reference or research requests sent to the State Historical Society of Iowa, including basic reference requests and photo image copies for historical and non-governmental materials.

If you have any questions about submitting an open records request, please direct them to our staff through Research Center request form. We will do our best to help you navigate your research.