Access to Records
The Reference Unit of the Archives assists researchers in using the collections. Reference services are available on-site or by telephone, mail or e-mail. An online catalog and numerous unpublished finding aids index and describe the materials in the many public records series, manuscript collections, and the genealogical collection.
Records at the State Archives are available in accordance with the laws of Florida and the operating rules of the Archives. All public records are open for use except for those specifically restricted by law or rule (relevant laws and rules are available at the Reference desk). Some personal papers or manuscript materials donated to the Archives may be subject to special conditions or restrictions imposed by the donor(s).
Obtaining Copies of Archives Materials
State Archives staff can provide copies of most of the materials in the Archives' collections on demand. Large copy orders might not be completed on the day requested. Records will not be reproduced if, in the opinion of the Reference staff, it might cause physical harm to the materials. All copying will be done by the Reference staff. Copy orders must be received no later than 15 minutes prior to the Archives closing for the day. Payment must be received before copies are delivered.
Photographic reproductions of most items in the Florida Photographic Collection are available for a nominal fee. Services include archival black and white negatives and prints, sepia toning, high resolution scans, and Betacam SP, SP and VHS video duplication.
The fee schedule for duplication of paper records, microfilm, audio and video recordings, and photographs is available online and from the Reference staff.
Visiting the Archives
The State Archives search room is open to the public at no charge during all Archives operating hours. Researchers are encouraged to check with the Archives to verify operating hours and records availability prior to visiting. Researchers must be 16 years of age or be accompanied by a responsible adult researcher. On their initial visit to the Archives, researchers will be asked to complete a registration form and obtain a research card. Some form of identification is needed to complete the registration process. On subsequent visits, patrons need only bring their research card to check in at the Reference desk.
In order to help protect Florida's historical records, researchers are asked to follow standard archival procedures by bringing into the search room only pencils, note cards, loose blank paper, spiral notebooks without material in the pockets, ring binders without material in the pockets, and light wraps such as shawls and sweaters into the search room. All material brought into the archives will be examined upon leaving. Researchers may bring their own tape recorders, laptop computers, mini-copiers, or other equipment into the Archives provided the Reference staff determines that the equipment will not pose harm to historical records or fragile books. The following items are strictly prohibited: any form of ink or ink pens, briefcases, bags, purses, envelopes or other containers, or any material that might be confused with archival holdings. Lockers are available to researchers needing to store these items while visiting the Archives.
Original records must be returned to Reference staff not later than 10 minutes prior to closing. Books and microfilm must be returned not later than 5 minutes prior to closing. All patrons must have removed their belongings from the lockers and have exited the Research Room by closing time.
Tours of the State Archives facility can be arranged for educational and civic groups and interested individuals. All visitors are required to check in and out with the Reference staff.
Patrons unable to visit the Archives to conduct their own research may contact the Archives to request the Archives staff to conduct limited research for specific information. Archives staff will search indexed records and books for a maximum of thirty minutes per request. Due to the limited number of staff, the Archives cannot: search records that are on microfilm or that are readily available from other sources (such as census records); conduct detailed genealogical searches; summarize, interpret, or transcribe documents; or provide a list of records for all persons bearing a particular surname. If such research is needed, researchers should plan to visit the Archives in person or make arrangements with a private researcher. A list of researchers will be provided upon request.
The Archives provides professional technical assistance for local government and archival and historical agencies, including workshops on the establishment and maintenance of archival and records management programs.
(See also Frequently Asked Questions about Donating to the State Archives)
The State Archives accepts the donation of historically significant Florida records that fall within our collecting policy. To help preserve our state's documentary heritage, we encourage citizens to contact the Archives to discuss donating your historical records to the Archives where they will be professionally preserved and made available for future generations to study. Archives staff will be happy to visit you at your home or organization to review your materials if such travel is feasible. You are also welcome to make an appointment to bring historical materials to the Archives for review, or to send copies of such materials to the Archives for evaluation.
The Archives cannot appraise donated materials to determine their fair market value since the Archives is considered an interested party in the transaction. Such evaluations do not meet the IRS definition of "qualified appraisal." To qualify as acceptable for income tax use, the appraisal must be performed by an objective, qualified appraiser, unconnected with either the donor or the institution, hired for this purpose by the donor. In addition, the Archives cannot provide tax advice or interpretation of the tax laws to answer individual questions. Donors should consult an expert tax advisor for specific questions on the use of gifts or property for charitable contribution deductions.
The Archives can assist a donor by providing the names and addresses of qualified manuscript appraisers, if a professional appraisal seems desirable or necessary.