Materials in Historical & Special Collections are open to all researchers regardless of academic affiliation. Researchers without a Harvard University ID must check in at the Law School Library Circulation Desk in order to proceed to Historical & Special Collections.
The Root Room, the Historical & Special Collections Reading Room, is located on the 4th floor of Langdell Hall. All researchers must have a current registration form on file; registration forms are valid for the fiscal year (July 1 to June 30) in which they are issued. For those researchers without a registration form please be prepared to show a photo ID.
If you are considering a visit to Historical & Special Collections, please contact us in advance so that we can discuss your research needs.
For more information, please see:
Phone: (617) 495-4550
Fax: (617) 495-8588
Mail: Historical & Special Collections
Harvard Law School Library
1545 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
The Historical & Special Collections Reading Room is open by appointment only.
Appointments are available Monday – Friday, 10:00am – 5:00pm.
Request an appointment
Please see the Historical & Special Collections’ home page for any changes to our hours.
The Root Room
4th floor, Langdell Hall
1545 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
The Harvard Law School has written instructions for travel by car, but we recommend taking public transportation. Langdell Hall is a ten minute walk from the Harvard Square Red Line T stop and fifteen minutes from the Porter Square commuter rail. Massachusetts Avenue is serviced by the #1, #77, and #96 bus lines. For more detailed information regarding public transportation, see the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) website.
Most on-street parking in the area is reserved for city residents with Cambridge vehicle registrations. On-street metered parking in Harvard Square is scarce.
Visitors may park on campus by purchasing a permit through the Harvard Campus Services website. The weekday daily visitor’s rate is $16 per permit. Parking can be reserved up to a week in advance of your visit. Please reserve parking for your visit as soon as possible as parking spaces close to the Law School fill up quickly during the school year.
Click here to purchase a daily visitor parking permit and then follow the instructions below.
- Click “Visitor” at the bottom of the Daily Visitor Parking Permits Online Purchase System page.
- Enter your log-in information if you have used the system before, or register if you have not.
- When purchasing your permit, select “Visitor to Campus” from the drop-down menu and enter “7700” in the department code field.
- You will be prompted to choose a parking lot. The closest lots to the Law School Library are located at 10 Everett Street and 52 Oxford Street.
More information about visitor parking on campus can be found here.
Can anyone access Historical & Special Collections?
Yes, materials in Historical & Special Collections are open to all researchers regardless of academic affiliation. For access to the Law School Library general collection, please consult the library’s Access Privileges Department.
Are laptops and scanners permitted in the Reading Room?
Laptops and tablets are permitted; flatbed scanners are not. For further information, please see our Reading Room Policies.
Is there wireless access for my laptop?
The entire Law School campus is wireless accessible. Visitors to campus may access wireless Internet by using the “Harvard Guest” network. Please see Information Technology Service’s website for detailed information on guest wireless instructions. There is also a public desktop computer available for use, but researchers are not permitted to consult Historical & Special Collections material while seated at the desktop computers.
Do I need to request items in advance of my visit?
Yes, researchers must request material in advance of their visit as the reading room is open only by appointment. Appointments for modern manuscripts and visual materials require two business days advance notice; all other materials may be requested one business day in advance.
How much storage space is available to researchers?
Each researcher is provided with a small locker for the day. We suggest researchers make arrangements for storing larger items elsewhere, as we cannot be responsible for items that do not fit in the lockers. All bags and jackets must be placed in the locker. For preservation purposes, the Root Room is maintained at a set temperature that at times can feel cold. For your comfort, we recommend bringing a light sweater or sweatshirt.
Are there specific rules for the handling of materials?
All materials consulted must be handled with great care. Researchers handling materials carelessly will be denied further access to the collections. All incoming researchers will be asked to read and sign a copy of our Reading Room Policies, which include detailed information on proper handling procedures.