Research and Collections

The Cornwall Historical Society’s library operates differently than most public or university libraries. While we strive to provide researchers with access to the contents of all our collections, the preservation of our unique materials is our primary concern. To that end, we enforce strict security protocols. Please familiarize yourself with our library policies and procedures so that you can make the most of your visit to the library.

Visiting the CHS

The Cornwall Historical Society is free and open to the public. All visitors wishing to use the library must schedule a research appointment. Appointments can be made via telephone, by calling 860.672.0505, or e-mail. At each visit, researchers will be required to sign-in. First-time researchers will be required to register to use the library and present a valid government-issued photographic ID upon arrival.

Personal belongings are discouraged in the library. Researchers are welcome to use laptop and tablet computers and digital cameras. Laptop and tablet computers are welcomed to enable researchers to take notes. Therefore, if possible, researchers are strongly urged to bring personal notes in electronic form on a laptop or tablet computer. Researchers are discouraged from bringing notebooks, folders, or loose leaf notepaper into the library. In situations when a researcher requires the use of personal notes, CHS staff will copy up to 20 pages of notes onto CHS approved paper for use in the library. Researchers taking manual notes may use pencils. All other writing implements are strictly forbidden under all circumstances in the library.

Researchers may not bring outside books or manuscript material into the library. Exceptions may be made at the discretion of the Curator. All materials of this type will be subjected to inspection before being removed from the library. Backpacks, briefcases, purses, computer or other bags, notebooks, binders, and outer clothing are highly discouraged in the CHS library. Outer clothing like sports coats, sweaters, and scarves may be worn in the library but, once removed, must be hung on the coat rack. Loose clothing may not be draped on chairs or laid on work-spaces in the library.

Researchers may use cameras to create reference images of materials in our collections. Researchers may photograph most materials in our collections. Materials protected by copyright and materials in collections with use specific restrictions may not be photographed. Researchers must ask permission and obtain a form before photographing any CHS owned material. The camera’s flash and all sounds must be turned off before use in the library. Tripods, lighting enhancements, and scanners (both flatbed and hand-held) are not permitted. At the discretion of the Curator, these items can be used under direct supervision on an appointment basis. There is a $45.00 per hour set-up and supervisory fee. Any requests to take photographs may be denied if doing so will jeopardize the safety of our collections or disrupt the climate of the library.

Access to Materials 

The Cornwall Historical Society is a closed-stack non-circulating library. A request for access should be submitted in writing or by email. Researchers are encouraged to identify which materials they would be interested in viewing by using our finding aids. To ensure long-term preservation of manuscript materials CHS researchers are required to use the photocopied or digital version of material from our collection when a surrogate copy exists. At the discretion of the Curator, original items may be viewed in lieu of their surrogate copy under direct supervision.

Research Assistance

The Cornwall Historical Society offers research services by mail or email for those unable to visit CHS. There is no charge for this service. However, due to time and staff limitations, it may take up to two weeks for staff to respond. When submitting an inquiry, please send us a detailed email with your name and contact information. All requests are answered in the order they are received.