Manuscripts & Archives

Filming at Manuscripts and Archives

Thank you for your interest in filming collection material at Manuscripts and Archives (MSSA) for your upcoming production. Please contact Public Services (Attn: Supervisor) at least three months in advance of your intended shoot in order to determine if your plans are feasible given the department's constraints.

Your first official step will be to secure permission from Yale University Library administration in order to film within Sterling Memorial Library. Please review the Library’s policies concerning Photographing or Filming in Library Buildings. There you’ll find the Application to Film at Yale which you’ll need to complete and send to Library Administration to review. Staff within Library Administration will then contact us concerning your application’s status.

Before Your Visit to MSSA

  1. MSSA can accommodate filming in its reading room on select Wednesday mornings between 8:30 AM-10:30 AM; this is the only time during the week that MSSA has staff present to supervise your use of collection material while the reading room isn’t open to researchers. If you know approximately when you will be traveling to New Haven, we will be happy to determine the reading room’s availability.
  2. All members of your film crew must complete an online Yale Special Collections registration.
  3. Determine from looking at finding aids at Archives at Yale or item records in Orbis the specific MSSA materials you intend to use. Once you have registered as indicated above, you may order materials in advance of your visit. However, a member of your team, not MSSA staff, will need to investigate the materials in person to select and flag what you intend to shoot at the item level. In some cases, this step may take several hours. If you cannot complete this research yourself in advance of your filming, please consult our Hire Research Assistance page. We are also happy to furnish you with current list of local freelance research assistants; please inquire for this at You may find more information about requesting materials at Yale’s Special Collections by consulting this guide.
  4. The charges associated with filming at MSSA are $225.00 for the first hour and $175.00 for each additional hour which must be paid prior to filming. Please contact in the days prior to your filming to be issued an invoice. There are additional licensing fees which may apply if the items you film are under Yale University copyright. We will be happy to work with you to determine if Yale holds copyright to the material that you select for your film; note, however, that media licenses cannot be written at the time of your visit. For more general information about seeking permissions, please see our Permission to Publish page.

On the Day of the Shoot

Our reading room is located in the Wall Street wing of SML, across the hallway from the Memorabilia Room and Lecture Hall. Regardless of which entrance to SML you use, when you reach the Nave walk through the student exhibit corridor (the opposite direction from the Starr Reading Room) past the Selin Courtyard and continue to the end of the hallway. We're the last door on the right before you reach the emergency exit doorway. Ask the security guards at either entrance to SML if you're unsure how to find us. 

  1. Upon entry into MSSA, each member of the crew will complete the registration process. Each must present to our staff a currently valid passport, or in lieu of that, two other forms of identification as specified in the chart our Registration Process page. To complete the registration, we will also take a security photo of each crew member.
  2. Please Note:
  • You may not film any MSSA staff member without that individual’s permission.
  • Materials must be filmed on a reading room table surface; you may consult with a staff member for assistance with supports, foams, and staff-approved weights if needed.
  • You may not remove material from Mylar or otherwise bypass materials’ conservation measures.

All filming equipment must be broken down and removed from the reading room by 10:30 AM sharp. If you wish to stay past 10:30 to photograph (not film) materials, you may do so as individual researchers abiding by typical reading room conventions; you will not be permitted to work as a film crew past 10:30 AM. Note that we cannot store your film equipment if you stay past 10:30 – it will need to be returned to your vehicle.

Manuscripts and Archives values your production’s broadening the reach of our collections and we thank you for helping to maintain their physical integrity.

Please note: When providing permission to film its collections, Manuscripts and Archives is not supplying permission to publish or otherwise distribute such material. Yale University provides access to these materials for educational or research purposes only. You are solely responsible for making legal assessments of and securing any necessary permissions to the collection materials that you intend to use for purposes other than personal research.

Last modified: 
Friday, February 28, 2020 - 1:36pm