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Consulting the Archives

If you would like to see an item or items from our archive collections, you will need to make an appointment with us (archives@rcseng.ac.uk) to consult them in the Archive Study Area at London Metropolitan Archives.

To help you prepare for your appointment, please read through our brief guides below on how to get the most from your visit.

Before Your Visit

Selecting your material

Before making a visit to the Archive Study Area, you will need to consult our online catalogue to select your material. You can order up to ten items or boxes (depending on size) of material per appointment.

Making an appointment

  • You will then need to contact us to make an appointment - preferably by email at archives@rcseng.ac.uk.
  • Please quote the reference numbers for each item (prefixed by RCS- or MS) you would like to see and check our opening hours before getting in touch.
  • Please note that although the LMA is only open Monday-Thursday, RCS staff are usually Monday-Friday.
  • We require at least five full working days' notice of an appointment, so that we can ensure that the correct material is ordered and retrieved for your appointment.
  • We will always acknowledge receipt of enquiries and appointment requests so if you do not hear back from us please get in contact again.

On the day

You will need to bring two forms of ID in order to complete your registration for a History Card. For further details, please take a moment before your visit to read through our information for researchers and advice about what to expect in the reading room. If you have not used an archive before, you might also want to read our tips for new researchers below.

Tips for new researchers

If you are new to archival research, you may wish to consider the following when making an appointment to visit the reading room:

  • Archives and manuscripts usually consist of unpublished material not created to be used subsequently as a research resource.
  • It may take you longer than you anticipate to find the information you're looking for so please be realistic about how much material you can look at during one visit.
  • Handwritten material may be difficult to read. It is often not indexed or arranged in a user friendly way.
  • You will find it useful to have done as much research and background reading as possible before you come to the archives.

During Your Visit

The archives are now viewed in the Archives Study Area at the London Metropolitan Archives (appointments were previously based in the library at the College in Lincoln's Inn Fields).

When you arrive at the London Metropolitan Archives

  • Please let the staff at the front desk know that you have a research appointment in the Archives Study Area.
  • If it is your first visit to the LMA, you will need to bring two forms of ID to complete your registration for a History Card (at the Information Area desk).
  • Only essential belongings should be brought into the reading room (usually any research notes, pencils and paper or a laptop to take notes). You will be directed to the cloakroom on the mezzanine floor (where lockers, seating, snacks and water are available).
  • Limited power sockets and wireless internet access are available to researchers using laptops or other devices in the Archives Study Area. Please do not rely on having access to either for the duration of your visit!

Handling the archives

Because most of the material housed in the archives is original or rare, and often fragile, a number of regulations govern their use. The handling guidelines are on display in the Archives Study Area and LMA staff invigilate the use of all material in that room. The observance of these rules is necessary for the long-term preservation of our unique holdings.

Photography of the archives

The archives cannot be photocopied but limited personal photography is permitted of certain collections in the Archives Study Area in line with LMA's policy. This must be arranged in advance of your visit so that a staff member can explain any restrictions to you. Charges and details can be found on the LMA website. You will be asked to fill out a copyright declaration form (which includes listing each photograph you take) during your visit. Alternatively you can place a reprographics order to have copies made on your behalf (LMA have a copying service).

Facilities

  • There are toilets available outside the Archives Study Area (on the first floor) and there is a water cooler and snack machines in the cloakroom (on the mezzanine floor).
  • Sockets for personal laptops are available next to some tables in the Archives Study Area but please do not rely on being able to plug your device in.
  • Wireless access is also available (but can be weak).  
  • PCs are available for use in the Information Area (outside of the Archives Study Area) with LMA catalogues, collections information and internet access available to the public.

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