This site provides researchers with guides and inventories for the archival and manuscripts collections. The guides describe the origin, extent, dates, contents, context, topics, and arrangement of archival materials and special collections, allowing users to identify materials relevant to their research. Additional guides will be added as time permits.
About our Collections
The Institute Archives and Special Collections at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute collects Institute records possessing permanent administrative, legal, fiscal, and historical value. This material includes records of academic and administrative offices, and student clubs and organizations. Our Special Collections are composed of manuscript collections, rare books, pamphlets, and artifacts related to nineteenth and early twentieth century science and technology. Subject areas include civil engineering, especially bridge, canal, and railroad design and construction; mechanics and mechanical engineering; geology; chemistry; physics; mathematics; and architecture. Among the department's collections are the materials of John and Washington Roebling, Eben Norton Horsford, Amos Eaton, George Low's NASA papers, and the Gerald and Sue Friedman History of Geology Rare Book Collection.
Guidelines for Contacting the Archives for Research
Collections are non-circulating and must be used in the repository's reading room. Viewing a collection in its entirety will require visiting the repository.
The Archives schedules research use of the collections by appointment. Please schedule on-site research with an archivist well in advance of your visit. Contact us to discuss your research. Due to the volume of email reference queries, please expect a week or so for a response from an Archivist. For the campus community, the Archives general business hours are Monday - Friday, 9-12 and 1-4.
Other Important Online Tools
Rare Books catalog
Search here for rare books and undergraduate theses (1855-1910). This portion of the Rensselaer Libraries' catalog includes only materials housed in the Institute Archives and Special Collections department.
The Archives provides access to selected individual images and graphics from either the photograph collection or items contained within collections.
Rensselaer Digital Collections
Consists of materials of intellectual, historic and cultural value to Rensselaer in a wide variety of image, audio, video and text formats. Notable collections within this database are RPI histories, Rensselaer alumni magazines, and the Rensselaer Polytechnic. Access to some items requires authentication with an RCS (Rensselaer Computing System) or RAA (Rensselaer Alumni Association) username and password.