American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes


Access to the Archives

Access Policy

The Archives of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) is committed to the principle of providing maximum access to its research materials and to making them available to all users on equal and fair terms. However, it is the responsibility of the Archives to balance the researcher’s need for access with the needs for the privacy and confidentiality of persons and institutions whose activities are reflected in the materials. Consequently, the use of some materials in the Archives may be subject to restrictions.

Both legal and ethical considerations enter into the decision to restrict access. Records may be restricted until the passage of time is such that, in the judgment of the Archivist or other competent authority, the interests in favor of access outweigh those in favor of privacy and confidentiality. These records include:

  • Those that contain sensitive personal information
  • Relatively recent organizational records that were not created to be made public

Specific restrictions are noted in the descriptive records for the materials. These restrictions do not apply to regular employees of the College in the performance of their normal work.

Any person may apply to use archival records in the Archives. If the application submitted by the person is not sufficiently precise to permit identification of the records sought, the Archives shall ask the applicant to clarify the application and shall assist the applicant in doing so, for example, by providing finding aids to the archives.

Use of Materials

Materials are for research purposes only. If you intend to use an image of material in the Archives in a publication, either in print or online, please notify us and credit the “Archives of the American College of Surgeons.”  Note that while the materials (photos, documents, publications, etc.) are the physical property of the Archives, intellectual property rights, including copyright, belong to the creators or their legal heirs and assignees. If you are searching for the rights holder, we will be happy to supply you with any information we have about the creator. If the creator is the College, please apply to the College for permission to publish the image in your work. When citing materials, please include enough detail to make it possible to find the original source document in the Archives.

Research Requests

Unless the request is brief and can be answered quickly, fees for staff time and duplication costs may apply. Priority of access to the Archives collections is a member benefit. All fees are waived for members of the College.

The Archivist is available to answer questions about:

  • Conducting research using the ACS collections
  • The history of the College
  • The preservation of historical material
  • Donation of material to the ACS and other repositories

College policy requires that requests from legal researchers be accompanied by the following information: Name of firm and attorney, name of the client your firm is representing in this case, whether or not your request is in connection with litigation, and, if so, the case name and jurisdiction of the litigation (for example, Smith v. Jones, Circuit Court of Cook County, IL).

Your Research Visit

Research visits may be made by appointment only. Please submit a completed Researcher Registration Form and the date(s) you would like to visit.

The Archives is located at College headquarters, 633 N. Saint Clair St., Chicago, IL. Please check in at the reception desk on the 26th floor when you arrive. You will be shown to the Archives reading room. Your briefcase, backpack, and other containers will be stored while you use materials in the Archives. You will be asked to acknowledge receipt of a copy of the Research Room Rules and fill out the registration form if you have not already done so. Research assistance will be given as available by limited staff. Unprocessed materials are generally not available to researchers.