To Bring to the Archives
1. Archives can be very cold. The temperatures are set for optimal record preservation and not for human comfort, so come prepared by wearing layers. I always bring a sweater with a hood for keeping my ears warm.
2. Many archives have strict hours. And often times they are odd (read 10-11 am and 4-6 pm). Bring a watch and a detailed task list for yourself to get maximum results from your visit.
3. A magnifying glass or reading glasses for tiny and difficult to decipher script. After a few hours with hand written records and you will be glad you brought it.
4. Turning page after page of brittle, dry paper can do a number on your skin. Come prepared with a little hand cream and you'll be good to go.
5. Most archives, if they allow copies at all, only take quarters. Come prepared with a coin purse full of change and you won't have to make any lunch break runs to the corner store for change. If possible, learn the archives' photocopying policies before you even begin your research. Know the costs, procedures, forms and restrictions before you even show up so that you can be ready.
6. If your records are in book form - copies are usually out of the question. But non-flash photography is often welcomed. Bring along a light-weight digital camera or wand scanner to take photos of those the records you find for later reference. Just be sure to record the source information in a notebook so that you can cite your sources later.
7. A cheery notebook that has space for doodles, to-do lists and notes as you spend hours alone in the archive.