Our FAQs are designed to help you learn more about planning your visit and conducting research in Special Collections.
If you are interested in finding materials on any topic relating to Chattanooga, the Tennessee Valley, or the University, we encourage you to begin by searching the following resources:
If you are unable to find the information you need and want to ensure you are not missing any potential resources, use our Ask an Archivist service to send a detailed description of your research need to Special Collections. Include relevant dates, locations, names, and formats desired. An archivist or librarian in Special Collections will respond to your request for information within 5 business days.
It is not uncommon for the historical record and archival repositories to have significant gaps. If you haven't already, consider contacting the librarians in the Local History unit of the Chattanooga Public Library. You could also trying searching ArchiveGrid, Digital Public Library of America, and Library of Congress Digital Collections, including Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.
Plan Your Visit
You have searched our Finding Aids, Digital Collections, CHC Online, Rare Books, and Scholar, and found some relevant resources that you would like to see in person. Here's what you need to know to make the most of your visit.
Special Collections strongly encourages appointments for all researchers, including students, faculty, and staff. We will give researchers who make appointments priority for limited seating in Special Collections. Otherwise, researchers will be served in the George Connor Reading Room (LIB 439) on a first come, first served basis. Researchers using Special Collections material may displace visitors who are not using materials housed in the repository.
- I am not a member of the UTC community. May I access your books and collections?
Of course! We welcome all researchers.
- Should I let you know I'm planning to visit?
Yes! Special Collections requires UTC students, faculty, and staff with a valid Mocs Card to request an appointment to conduct research with our physical holdings; however we strongly encourage you to Make an Appointment after reviewing our Finding Aids, CHC Online, and Rare Books in order to identify materials that support your research needs. This allows us to pre-pull materials before you visit and help you identify other sources to review.
- May I check out books and collections?
Due to the rarity, condition, and value of our collections and books, they do not circulate but may be accessed in our reading room.
- Am I allowed to bring drinks and snacks into the reading room?
In order to preserve our unique collections for future generations, eating, drinking, and use of tobacco products are strictly prohibited.
- May I take notes with my laptop?
Yes! we encourage all of our researchers to bring their laptops. UTC students, faculty, and staff may check out laptops at the UTC Library Check Out Desk.
- What about wireless access?
Campus wireless access for personal devices is administered through the UTC Information Technology Division and is available to current UTC students, staff and faculty. More information about guest access to the University wireless network is available from the Division of Information Technology’s Guests page.
- May I take pictures of collections with my personal camera?
Onsite researchers may use cameras, phones, tablets and other equipment to photograph material for study purposes. Portable scanners and other digital imaging equipment must be approved by our staff prior to use. Please note that we do not allow any of our rare and unique materials to pass through any kind of feed scanner. Cameras are available for check out by UTC students, faculty, and staff from the Library's Studio.
- Where should I park?
More information about visiting us, including driving directions, parking information, and campus maps is available on our Hours and Location page.
- How much time will Special Collections dedicate to my research question?
Special Collections offers one hour of research and reference services to distance researchers. In-depth research requires a personal visit. If you are not able to visit Special Collections to conduct research in person, you may consider hiring a student or professional who can conduct research on your behalf. Researchers are encouraged to use digital cameras, scanning apps, and other tools to make copies of our resources for personal use.
- Can I hire someone to conduct research in Special Collections on my behalf?
Yes. Upon request, Special Collections may recommend a UTC student to perform research on your behalf. These researchers are not employed by or accredited by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Special Collections is not able to answer questions about their availability, services, or charges.
- How many copies may I request?
Researchers may request up to 100 copies of archival material or 200 pages of books, which are provided by Special Collections free of charge.
- What if I need more copies?
You are welcome to visit Special Collections to make copies of materials using a camera or smartphone and our copy stand. If you are unable to visit Special Collections, you are welcome to hire a remote researcher to visit Special Collections on your behalf to make copies of the materials using their camera or smartphone. Upon request, Special Collections may recommend a UTC student to make copies on your behalf. These researchers are not employed by or accredited by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Special Collections is not able to answer questions about their availability, services, or charges.
- How long will it take for me to receive my copy request?
Copy requests are processed in the order they are received. It may take 28 business days to process your order depending on complexity and staff resources.
- How do I determine copyright for requested copies?
You are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of any materials you may wish to use, to investigate the owner of the copyright, and to obtain permission for your intended use. More information regarding your rights and responsibilities is available on Permissions and Copyright.
- How will my digital copies by delivered?
Once your digital copies are ready, we will send you a link from which you will be able to download copies to your own computer.
- Do you offer high quality prints or photocopies?
We do not provide print copy services.
- How can I conduct research with Chattanooga newspapers?
Special Collections does not house the Library's collection of local newspapers. We have some isolated bound issues, but for comprehensive coverage, you'll need to access our microfilm holdings available for use on the Ground Floor of the Library. To find the call number for the local newspaper you would like to view, use the Quick Search box on the Library's home page for "Chattanooga," and use the Format filter to limit your results to Newspapers. For help locating microfilm holdings and using the Library's microfilm readers, visit the Check Out Desk on the first floor of the Library.
- Do you retain clippings files about local history?
Special Collections does not maintain clippings files covering local history; however, consider contacting the librarians in the Local History unit of the Chattanooga Public Library to access their excellent vertical files on a wide variety of people, places, and events in Chattanooga.
- How can I research more current newspapers online?
Try the Library's News and Newspapers research guide for details about our current subscriptions. To access this material, you must be affiliated with UTC.
Search Finding Aids
- What are finding aids?
Finding aids are detailed inventories, registers, indexes, and guides to describe collections of primary source materials. They provide a comprehensive overview of a collection's scope and contents. Additionally, they define the conditions under which a collection may be accessed or copied, explain its provenance, and contain histories of individuals and organizations connected with the collection.
- Why should I use finding aids?
You should use our Finding Aids to identify which files or items in a collection will be most useful. Be sure to record the Physical Storage Information for the material you would like to see, and ask staff in Special Collections to pull the box for you to enjoy in our reading room using our Make an Appointment form. For example, if you wanted to view the Chickamauga Dam and Wilkes T. Thrasher Bridge correspondence and records from the Marilyn Lloyd papers collection, you would request box MS-025 053.
- How do I search finding aids?
Visit our finding aids. Enter search terms, conduct an advanced search, or browse by collection title, subject, or name.
- How do I request archival materials?
Record the corresponding Physical Storage Information for the material you would like to see, and ask staff in Special Collections to pull the box for you to enjoy in our reading room using our Make an Appointment form. For example, if you wanted to view the Chickamauga Dam and Wilkes T. Thrasher Bridge correspondence and records from the Marilyn Lloyd papers collection, you would request box MS-025 053.
- Why don't all collections have a finding aid?
Like most archival repositories, we have a backlog of unprocessed collections that are not described in a finding aid. We have finding aids for many of our collections, and we are striving to have all of our finding aids online as soon as possible. If you are conducting research on topics related to the University Archives or Chattanooga History Collections, and are unable to find relevant content in our Rare Books, Digital Collections, CHC Online, or Finding Aids, use our Ask an Archivist service to inquire if we have materials related to your research topic.
Chattanooga History Collections
- Why don't all collections have a finding aid?
The Chattanooga History Collections (CHC) are the former collections of the Chattanooga History Center. Following the closing of the History Center in June 2017, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) and the Chattanooga Public Library assumed joint ownership of these collections.
- May I access the Chattanooga History Collections?
Yes! Materials in the Chattanooga History Collections are accessed upon request. It is your responsibility to thoroughly research our online discovery systems for relevant holdings. Begin by searching the following resources:
If you are unable to find the information you need and want to ensure you are not missing any potential resources, use our Ask an Archivist service to send a detailed description of your research need to Special Collections. Include relevant dates, locations, names, and formats desired. An archivist or librarian in Special Collections will respond to your request for information within 5 business days. Due to the rarity, condition, and value of materials in the Chattanooga History Collections, they do not circulate but may be accessed in our reading room.
- Where is the history museum?
Unfortunately, there is no history museum. Materials from the Chattanooga History Collections are periodically displayed in the George Connor Special Collections Reading Room (LIB 439) and Andrew Roth Grand Reading Room (LIB 402). Materials may also be displayed in the Local History and Genealogy department of the Chattanooga Public Library.
- How do I donate materials to the Chattanooga History Collections?
The Chattanooga History Collections consist only of the former holdings of the History Center. Special Collections considers donations that meet the standards outlined in our Collection Development policy. More information on the process for gifts and donations may be found on our Gifts and Donations page.
- How do I find historic photos of the University?
If you are searching for a photograph or image relating to the University, begin with our Digital Collections. Conduct an Advanced Search of all collections that begin with either "University of Tennessee at Chattanooga" or "University of Chattanooga" and supply a keyword or phrase that pertains to your subject. You can find instructions for conducting an Advanced Search on the UTC Digital Collections research guide. If you are unable to find any images pertaining to your search in Digital Collections, use our Ask an Archivist service. As you describe your question on the form, please state that you have already searched our Digital Collections. After submitting the form, a Special Collections staff member will consult our internal inventories and physical holdings of University photographs and respond to your inquiry.
- How do I find administrative records in the University Archives?
At present the only university administrative records available for full-text searching online are the University of Chattanooga Board Trustees Minutes in our Digital Collections. For all other requests please use our Ask an Archivist service and describe the nature of your question in as much detail as possible. A Special Collections staff member will consult our internal inventories and respond to you within three business days.
- How do I transfer records or documents to the University Archives?
For questions regarding the transfer of University Records, please use our Ask an Archivist service, stating the date coverage, type, and quantity of records. A Special Collections staff member will follow up with you about the possibility of a records transfer. Please note that all records transfers must meet the standards in our Collection Development policy.