Handling archival restrictions in historical research?

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In our July “how can we help you?” thread, Tom asks:

I am investigating a philosopher’s intellectual history. A particular university archive (whom I am working with) restricts access to this deceased philosopher’s records for 80 years after their attendance, but this person’s records are only 70 years old now. This information would be very useful for me, but I would have to wait another 10 years, therefore postponing my progress significantly. These situations vary by institution, but does anyone have any advice on dealing with archives who keep their 70 year old records very highly protected? Would it be unreasonable to try to petition them to grant an exception? All people involved have been dead over 30 years now, so there don’t seem to be any ethical issues. However, I also don’t want to be a bother or to cause trouble. Thanks, Marcus!

This is an interesting query, but sadly I know nothing about this kind of stuff. It would be great to hear from historians who work with archival records on how you handle these kinds of situations. What options are available to Tom?

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More

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