Visiting The Filson:

Library and Special Collections Reading Room Rules:

  • All researchers must complete a daily research request form, listing personal information and signing to agree with our rules and regulations.  For a copy of the form, please CLICK HERE.  The form is a fillable PDF format that allows you to type in your information and print it to bring with you during your research visit, or you can also type in your information and email it to the Filson ( Feel free to complete the form in advance to save time the day of your research.
  • Much of the material in the Collections Department is housed in closed stacks. Researchers may request particular items by submitting an appropriate photo ID and call form (on the back of the research request form) to the reference desk on the second floor. Staff will bring the material to the appropriate reading room (Library or Special Collections).
  • All materials must be read in the research room only and may not be taken from the reading room.
  • Only pencils, loose sheets of paper, laptops/tablets, and cameras are permitted in the reading rooms; you will be provided a locker key to house your other personal items. Your materials may be checked when you leave the reading rooms. Please CLICK HERE for a list of items restricted from our reading rooms.
  • Please refrain from cell phone use in the reading rooms.
  • Research material will not be pulled after 4:00pm.
  • Food and drinks are not allowed in the reading room.
  • Use of digital cameras is authorized on a limited basis; use of scanners is prohibited.  See below for applicable costs regarding digital photography.


Handling Materials:

  • The researcher accepts the responsibility of handling all materials carefully. Manuscripts and books must not be written on, folded, traced over, or handled in any way that may cause damage.  Researchers working with photographs may be asked to wear gloves.
  • When working with foldered or boxed items, maintain the order of the material. DO NOT shuffle or otherwise rearrange the order of the manuscripts and photographs.
  • Keep the materials flat on the table. DO NOT lean on them or hold them in your hand to read.
  • Proper bibliographic and footnote credit is required. Permission to use quotes from manuscripts or to reproduce photos and prints must be obtained from the Curator of Collections. The preferred form of citation for manuscripts is: specific cite of material as appropriate, collection title as appropriate, The Filson Historical Society, Louisville, KY.
  • For photos and prints, citing The Filson Historical Society is usually sufficient.
  • The researcher is responsible for acquiring any necessary permissions regarding copyright.

Photocopies and Digital Photography:

  • Ask the staff what procedures to follow regarding photocopies and digital photography.
  • Special Collections Reading Room:
    • a photocopy request/digital photography form must be submitted.
    • Photocopies are 25 cents per page for letter and legal size, 50 cents for oversized paper; Filson staff makes all copies. Copies will either be available at the end of the researcher’s visit or can be picked up or mailed at a later date, depending on staff's availability to make copies at the time of your visit. An hourly fee  will be applied for copy orders of over 100 pages.
    • Digital photography by researchers is free. Users must include a strip identifying the materials as the Filson's; in addition, a use form must be completed (click here for a fillable PDF form). Staff will provide the strip identifying the material as coming from the Filson to be included in each shot.
    • All copies and digital images are to remain in the exclusive possession of the researcher and may only be used for research purposes.
  • Library Reading Room:
    • Photocopies are 25 cents per page for letter and legal size, 50 cents for oversized paper; patrons may make their own copies.
    • Digital photography by the patron incurs no fee.

    Remote Research:

    We understand that not everyone can visit the Filson to conduct research. The Filson staff can review materials for a charge. Given our reference demands, we are only able to take on a maximum of two hours of research on behalf of remote patrons, at the charge of $50 per hour. Filson members are charged a reduced rate of $35 per hour. The charge for photocopies or PDF scans for remote patrons is $0.25 per page, plus a $5.00 processing fee per each 50 pages of copies. Please email with any requests!