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


Access to the Archives

Members of the American College of Surgeons

Priority of access to the Archives collections is a member benefit. All fees for staff time and duplication costs (see “Fees” section below) are waived for members.

Additionally, the Archivist is available to answer questions about:

  • Conducting research using the ACS collections
  • The history of surgery and the history of the College
  • Assistance with grand rounds on historical topics
  • The preservation of historical material
  • Donation of material to the ACS and other repositories


Due to limited staffing resources, some restrictions on hours, reference service, and duplication services may apply. Nonmembers may access the research room by submitting the Researcher Registration Form explaining the specific nature of the research and what they hope to find along with their complete contact information. Upon approval, an appointment for a visit may be made. (See also “Fees” section below.)

Your Research Visit

Research visits may be made by appointment only. The Archives is located at College headquarters, 633 N Saint Clair Street, Chicago, Illinois. 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.

  • Research assistance will be given as available by limited staff
  • Unprocessed materials are generally not available to researchers
  • No materials can be removed from the Archives room or loaned out
  • Use pencils and not pens; do not mark or erase any documents
  • Do not alter the order of the folders in the boxes or the order of the documents in the folders
  • Do not reshelve any boxes
  • Use the adhesive notes provided to mark pages you would like to have copied. Archives staff will do all photocopying and scanning of reasonable amounts of material, as time permits, and if condition of the records allow

Fees for Duplication and Staff Time

Researchers may request images of Archives materials to be used in their publications; however, copyright restrictions apply and are the responsibility of the requestor. We ask that the author cite the Archives as the source of the image (see “Citation Guidelines” below).

Members of the American College of Surgeons

Members are not charged for staff time or duplication of materials. However, we invite you to help maintain the Archives program and services by making a contribution of any size to the Archives/PUF Fund, #3324.


Unless the request is brief and can be answered quickly, a $25 reference fee will apply. Also, costs incurred by the Archives and other reasonable charges may apply. This will cover such things as:

  • Photocopies or scans of documents
  • Scans of photos
  • Format transfer and/or copies of video and audio recordings
  • Postage (If the researcher is unable to supply a FedEx account no., an additional handling fee will apply.)
  • Rush orders

For research taking more than one hour, the fee will be $25/ hour, pending availability of staff. Fees may be paid by check or credit card, and prepayment is requested.

Citation Guidelines

When citing materials, please include enough detail to make it possible to find the original source document in the Archives. The exact citation form will depend on the style guide you are using, but be consistent when citing similar types of items. Details will vary, but the following three elements should be included:

  • Specific identifying information, such as author, title, date, type of item
  • Location information, such as reference number (RG_/SG_/S_/SS_), box number, and folder number
  • Repository name and location: Archives of the American College of Surgeons, Chicago


American College of Surgeons Board of Regents, Minutes, Nov. 13, 1913, p. 34-38, RG4/SG4/S2, box 1, Archives of the American College of Surgeons, Chicago.

Crowell, Bowman C., to Frederic W. Bancroft, April 25, 1941 [carbon copy]; RG5/SG5/S1, box 2, folder 1; Archives of the American College of Surgeons, Chicago.

Grimm, Eleanor K. [Notebooks], RG5/SG7/S2, Vol. XIII, Reel C-5, p. 7, Archives of the American College of Surgeons, Chicago.

Itinerary, South-Western trip, [1922]. Martin Memoirs, RG0/SG0/S1, box 27, Archives of the American College of Surgeons, Chicago.

Privacy and Confidentiality

In keeping with the Society of American Archivists’ statement on Privacy and Restricted Information, the need for openness must be weighed against the need to respect privacy rights of either those who created or are the subject of documentary materials of long-term value, especially those who had no voice in the disposition of the materials. Without some restrictions on access to recent and sensitive materials, individuals may be harmed, so in the process of processing records, archivists may remove some records for a period of years or the life of the individual in question. Privacy protects not only good reputation, but also any personal information that individuals want to keep from being known. Confidentiality refers to private communications and is restricted to them alone, and unauthorized inquiry into the content of the communication is forbidden. Although confidential communications in the course of business may not be protected by law, fairness requires observation of the implied confidentiality

When sensitive records are encountered by the researcher, which may have been missed by the processing archivist, the archivist may request that the researcher sign a waiver agreeing not to use or publish personal information. Such materials may need to be withdrawn from access for the lifetime of the individual whose privacy rights are breached. While some information considered confidential might assist researchers in carrying out studies that may have profound social implications, the need to protect individual rights must be honored.

Access to historic records for those having a claim against the American College of Surgeons may be denied.

Use of Materials

Please note that while photos and other materials may be the physical property of the Archives, intellectual property rights, including copyright, belong to the creators or their legal heirs and assigns. Copyright restrictions may apply; researching them is the responsibility of the requestor.