First try the search box on the right; this searches all of the collections information and oral history interviews we have at the Archives of American Art.
For an alphabetical list of collections and interviews by name of their creator, see Research Collections. If you are looking specifically for images, try the Image and Media Gallery and Fully Digitized Collections.
If you need further assistance, use the Ask Us form to email our Reference Services staff.
Each collection is different. The description on this website should indicate whether part or all of the collection has been scanned and is available online, or whether it is available on microfilm.
- All Online: Fully Digitized Collections can be viewed wholly online, ordered by box and folder, just as you would find them in our reading room.
- Partly Online: The Image and Media Gallery displays a selection of documents and records which have been digitized and individually described.
- Microfilm: You may use microfilmed collections at the Archives’ research centers in Washington, DC or New York City, or at one of four affiliated research centers around the country. For details, see Hours & Locations. If you cannot visit a research center, ask your school or public librarian to borrow the microfilm from us. Direct your librarian to: www.aaa.si.edu/askus/interlibrary-loan.
- Original Materials: Use of collections that have not been microfilmed or digitized requires a visit to our reading room in Washington, D.C. Space is limited, so please submit your request as far in advance of your planned visit as possible. To request a reading room appointment, click on the “Reading Room” button on the collection page, under “Make a Request.” If you do not have a research request system account, please choose “First Time Users” on the login page. Once you have registered, you may review your requests for reading room appointments by logging into your research account at https://aeon.aaa.si.edu.
If you still have questions about how you can access a specific collection, please submit an inquiry (including the URLs of any relevant web pages) to the Reference Services staff via the Ask Us form.
Interviews conducted as part of the Archives of American Art’s Oral History Program are listed alphabetically under Oral History Interviews. In addition, the Archives has a number of interviews that were conducted by someone not affiliated with the Archives and later donated to us. At the bottom of these pages, a section called “How to Use this Collection” explains the options for access.
Each interview in our collections has a summary description on this website, accompanied by a transcript when available. Complete audio recordings of interviews are not currently available online; however, some interviews do include MP3 audio excerpts. Complete audio recordings may be available for in-person listening, by appointment, at the Archives’ Washington, D.C. Research Center.
Excerpts from interviews can be made available for use in publications and exhibitions pending approval. Polices, procedures and fee information for reproductions of audio excerpts are available at Use of Audio Recording Excerpts from Oral History Interviews.
If you have questions about how you can access a specific interview, please submit an inquiry (including the URLs of any relevant web pages) to the Reference Services staff via the Ask Us form.
No, we are not permitted to give appraisals nor advise you on how much an object or collection may be worth. We recommend you consult the guide to Researching Your Art, from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
You can see a list of the types of materials we are looking for at Donating Papers to the Archives of American Art, as well as information on how to get in touch with the curatorial staff.
Our microfilm collections are owned either by the Archives of American Art or by another organization or individual. In a research paper, citations should read as follows:
- If owned by the Archives: Collection name, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. [Microfilm reel numbers].
- If owned by another organization: Collection name. Owned by [Organization name]; microfilmed by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. [Microfilm reel numbers].
- If owned by an individual: Collection name. Owned by [owners name]; microfilmed by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. [Microfilm reel numbers]
For detailed instructions as well as reproduction fees, see Image Rights and Reproductions.
Yes, we have an active program of loaning documents to other institutions. See Borrowing Documents for Exhibitions.
Excerpts of interviews can be made available for use in publications and exhibitions pending approval. Policies, procedures and fee information are available at Use of Audio Recording Excerpts from Oral History Interviews.