Special Collections Copying

General Information

Special Collections offers a variety of photographic and digital services for visitors who may review the fee schedules for reproduction services and permission to use images in advance of making a request. Permission to reproduce, publish, or exhibit copyrighted materials or restricted materials must be obtained from the Director of Special Collections and/or the copyright holder.  If used in a published work in any format, including web pages, the material must be appropriately cited.

The staff of Special Collections reserves the right to refuse to copy any part material on the basis of its condition or the donor’s restriction.  Many items in Special Collections are simply too fragile to be copied or photographed.  All reproductions will be done within Special Collections. When planning your visit to Special Collections, we encourage you to bring a camera to allow you to leave with images for use in your personal research.

Theses and Dissertations

Copyright to honors theses, master's theses, and doctoral dissertations is owned by the authors.  Copies of all theses and dissertations produced by College of William and Mary students are available for use in the Special Collections reading room. Copies of master's theses and doctoral dissertations are also available in Swem Library's stacks with those written by Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) students also available at the Hargis Library at VIMS. A growing number of honors and master's theses and dissertations are available through the W&M ScholarWorks or the Proquest Dissertations & Theses Database (link for W&M only). When a work is available electronically, a link is provided in Swem Library's catalog.

Requests for copies of master's theses and doctoral dissertations for borrowing should be made through your local library's interlibrary loan department. If your library has a subscription to the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Database and the William and Mary thesis or dissertation is available via the database, this option may meet your needs. Consult your local library to determine if it has a subscription to this database. UMI Dissertation Publishing (part of ProQuest) also offers the option to purchase master's theses and doctoral dissertations. Note that the William & Mary has been publishing master's theses and doctoral dissertations through UMI Dissertation Publishing since 1967, so earlier works may not be available via Proquest.

To request a personal copy of master's theses and doctoral dissertations not available via Proquest or honors theses not available via the William & Mary digital archive, contact Special Collections. Note the Special Collections copyright statement  below. Requests for a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use" require the permission of copyright owner.  Special Collections staff will facilitate these requests.


The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.  Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproductions.  One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship or research.”  If a user makes a request for or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement.

Swem Library's guide to copyright provides useful information on the topic.

Copyright to the First and Second Series of the William & Mary Quarterly is held by Earl Gregg Swem Library. Requests should be directed to Special Collections. Effective December 2011, the First and Second Series of the William & Mary Quarterly is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Name of collection, Special Collections, Swem Library, William & Mary.

Personal Cameras and Scanners

Please check with a Special Collections staff member before taking any photographs. Flatbed or hand-held scanners are not permitted. Certain restrictions apply:

  • All cameras must be hand-held. 
  • The photographer's feet must remain on the floor at all times; the use of tripods, chairs, stools, ladders or other devices to adjust the angle of photography is not permitted.  
  • Only still photography cameras may be used.  
  • All photographs must be taken using available light within the reading room. The flash option on the camera must be turned off, and no additional, separate lighting may be used.  
  • Manuscripts, maps, broadsides and other single sheets must be kept flat on the table during photography. Books, bound manuscripts, and other bound materials must be photographed while in a cradle.  
  • Photographs may be taken for research purposes only. 

This policy is intended for individual researchers doing their own research. For-profit enterprises such as television networks and film production companies should contact the Director of Special Collections.

Ordering Information

All orders should be placed through your Special Collections user account.