Information for Researchers

Our goal is to make your research experience as efficient, enriching, and pleasant as possible. We ask that you make an appointment at least two business days in advance to schedule your visit to the Center. We know that your time is valuable, and with some preparation, we will assist you in making the most of your visit. Please review the webpage and the variety of tools we make available to you to assist with your work. We hope that our facility and our dedicated and helpful staff will make your work more productive and meaningful. We look forward to assisting you with your research.

Please prepare for your visit to the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center by reading the list of Rules & Guidelines which govern the use of our materials. Please note that our rules are designed to protect the physical and intellectual property rights of our collectees.

How to Use the Howard Thurman & Sue Bailey Thurman Collections

If you wish to see the physical objects in the Howard Thurman Collection or the Sue Bailey Thurman Collection, the research process at the Gotlieb Center begins with a written query. We have a tremendous number of requests that come in daily and having your request in writing with all the details of your project and your contact information helps facilitate our response. Including the information from the online finding aid will help expedite the process. The Gotlieb Center provides reference services but does not provide research services.

Please email your reference query to If you are returning forms for approval or wish to contact us via post or fax, the contact information is as follows:

Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center
Boston University
ATTN: Public Service
771 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02215
FAX: 617-353-2838

Finding Aids
The digital, searchable finding aids for the Thurman Collections are located by clicking the SEARCH tab above. The Gotlieb Center does not publish or distribute copies of finding aids, however a scope and content description is published on our website.

Photocopies and Scans
The archival staff will review all requests for duplication of materials. The staff considers requests in adherence with the Gotlieb Center's policies on duplication and in adherence with the Copyright Law of the United States of America and related laws contained in Title 17 of the United States Code (specifically 107. Limitations on exclusive rights. Fair Use). With written permission from the collectee or their literary executor, we may be able to make photocopies or scans of material and send the copies to you. We have strict limits on the number of copies we will make for your project, please consult the Photocopy Policy for details. You will still be required to fill out the Application for the use of Manuscript Collections and other appropriate forms. You will be responsible for paying all charges and fees in advance, before receiving your copies.

Proxy Researchers
If you are unable to visit the Center in person, you may employ a proxy researcher. However, both you and your proxy researcher must complete the Application for the use of Manuscript Collections form in order to access the collections. The Boston University "Quickie Job" site allows you to post a research position if you would like to hire a Boston University to conduct your proxy research.

Rules & Guidelines

The Reading Room
Please register at the reference desk before entering the room. No bags, briefcases, coats, etc. are allowed in the reading room and will be locked in the secure cabinet. Cell phones are not permitted to be used in the reading room. Pencils only may be used for taking notes. Laptop computer and tablet devices are permitted. No scanners or photographic devices, including laptops and cell phones, are allowed under any circumstances. No type of imaging of photographing of materials or our exhibits is allowed in the Center. Anyone found violating this rule will be expelled from the Center permanently, without exception. There are surveillance cameras in use continually in the reading room and are viewed by security personnel off-site. All books, folders, and other materials will be examined by staff upon your entrance and before your exit.

Permission To Examine
Permission to examine manuscripts will be granted to a qualified scholar upon the completion of the form Application for the use of Manuscript Collections, providing there are no restrictions. This does not carry with it permission to publish such material in whole or part. Researchers will register at the reference desk and will provide one form of identification which will be held at the desk while manuscript material is being used. The use of manuscript material is restricted to the Gotlieb Center reading room. Researchers may use only one collection at a time. In certain instances, collections that have not been fully cataloged may not be available to scholars. Only one box at a time may be open and on the table. The arrangement of the folders within each box must remain the same.

Request for photocopying of material will be considered when such duplication can be done without injury to the material, and when it is in accordance with donor agreements and copyright restrictions. Photocopying of unpublished manuscripts requires written permission of the donor and/or creator of the material. Correspondence cannot be photocopied without the permission of both parties involved: the writer of the letter, and the recipient or owner of the letter. Unpublished material no longer governed by copyright will generally be permitted. Staff must approve all photocopying based on these considerations. Any copies made are for personal research only and are not to be reproduced or placed in another repository. Please be as selective as possible in making photocopying requests. There is a 75 page limit for large collections and a 30 page limit for small collections. Please use the Photocopy Request form, noting the number of copies required for each item, and return the form to the archivist. Please indicate item(s) by using acid-free strips placed in folder or book and return the item to folder where it was located. Your approved photocopy request will be completed when staff schedules permit. Very rarely can an order be completed on the same day. Copies can be mailed at the cost of postage and handling fee. Alternately, a telephone call can be made indicating that the copies are ready to be picked up. Copies cost twenty-five cents per page for on-site requests, and fifty-cents per page, plus shipping and handling, for off-site requests. We accept cash and checks made payable to Boston University, and credit cards for photocopy payments. Payment must be made before copies are made.

Permission To Publish
Researchers must notify the Center if they intend to publish material from a collection held by the Center. In cases where the Center does not hold copyright, scholars must submit the Notification of Intent to Publish form to the Center. It will also be necessary to obtain permission directly from the author or literary executor. Permission must be secured from Boston University to publish from manuscript collections the University owns, as well as those for which the Boston University has literary copyright. A specific written request for the right to publish may be made on the Permission to Publish application form. Boston University does not surrender its own right to grant permission to others to print the same material, nor does Boston University assume any responsibility for infringement or copyright laws or of the publication rights for the manuscript held by the writer, his heirs, executors or assignees.

If permission to publish is granted, the manuscript(s) or photograph(s) shall be cited as follows:

From the [collection name] Collection,
Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University

A copy of the published work should be presented to the Gotlieb Center when the work has been released by the publisher.

Research Room

Forms (Left-click to open, right-click "Save As" to download)