Using the Archives
The Rinzler Archives is currently closed for renovations to improve storage conditions for our collections and to ensure their preservation long into the future. Before planning a visit, please consult this site for our anticipated reopening date. Although our physical collections are currently inaccessible, we offer digital versions of many of our collections online and will continue to assist researchers with reference inquiries, rights and reproductions requests, and other collections-related matters.
The Rinzler Archives is a public resource. We invite artists, musicians, community members, and other researchers to visit the archives, consult with curators and archivists, and request reference copies of collection items for your research and personal use.
Our reading and listening room is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on federal holidays. Booking an appointment is necessary to provide the best research and reference services and to ensure that the collections are available for your use, as some items are stored offsite.
Reading and Listening Room
Visitors are welcome to listen to and view our digital and digitized audiovisual collections. When making an appointment to visit, be sure to tell us if you plan to listen to sound recordings or view video tape, as we will need to ensure that digital reference copies of our fragile recordings are available before you arrive. Transcripts are available for many of our holdings.
Visitors may also view photographs, slides, and contact sheets from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival as well the collections of Diana Davies, Robert C. Malone, and Robert Yellin.
In addition to our own collections, visitors are welcome to explore our library of commercial LPs, 45s, 78s, cassettes, and CDs from other record labels. These collections can be accessed on their original formats provided that playback equipment is available.
A library of serials and monographs related to folklore, ethnomusicology, anthropology, musicology, and the music business is also available. Use of our photocopy machine is free.
Online Access to Collections
More than 80,000 historical and contemporary items from Rinzler Archives collections are available in the Smithsonian’s Collections Search Center. Find complete collection descriptions in finding aids and inventories in the Smithsonian Online Virtual Archive, which often include digital surrogates. The commercial recordings in our collection are distributed by Smithsonian Folkways: access samples, download entire tracks or albums, and read original liner notes.
Duplication and Licensing
To request copies of photographs, documents, audio, or video in our collections for research or personal use, please use our Archival Research Materials Order form. To license materials for publication, please submit an Archival Materials License Request form, or contact us for further information.
The Rinzler Archives does not own or control the intellectual property rights to every item in our collection. Duplication of some audiovisual materials may require permission from the performer or interviewee in the recording. Your use of collection items is contingent upon obtaining final permission for use from the rights holder. Requests for copies of archival material are considered on a case-by-case basis, subject to copyright and other restrictions, the availability of digitization equipment, and staff resources.
|Processing fee for all orders
|New JPEG, TIFF, or DNG scan
||$10 per image
|New Low-resolution Scan (PDF)
|Previously Digitized Image
||Processing fee only
|Image Licensing for Commercial Use
||$50 per image in publication interior and website/online/digital/film applications; $150 per image publication cover
|Image Licensing for Nonprofit Use
||$25 per image in publication interior and website/online/digital/film applications; $75 per image in publication cover
|Re-Use of Previously Provided images
||$20 for entire order
|New AV Digitization (all formats)
||$40 per item
|Previously Digitized AV materials
||Processing fee only
|AV Licensing for Commercial Use
||$200 per item
|AV Licensing for Nonprofit Use
||$100 per item
|Re-use of previously provided AV material
||$20 for entire order
|Previously Digitized Items
||10 business days
|Items Requiring Digitization
|Permission to Re-use Materials
||5 business days
||Double the cost of order
We grant exceptions to these fees for past Festival participants and their immediate family; current Smithsonian fellows (limited to ten undigitized images/year and five undigitized AV items/year), students (limited to five undigitized images/year and two undigitized AV items/year) who provide proof of status, records creators, and other individuals on a case-by-case basis, depending on the nature of their project.
The Rinzler Archives is committed to providing opportunities for source communities to meaningfully engage with the collections in our care. Please refer to our Shared Stewardship of Collections policy for information.
TV and Film Production Guidelines
The Smithsonian has developed guidelines to be used by television and film producers in working with Smithsonian units. The guidelines describe key areas that should be addressed when working with Smithsonian archival units and special collections. Specific guidelines for Smithsonian Networks producers are also available.
The Rinzler Archives helps to build cultural understanding by illuminating the history of public folklore and folklife in the United States, documenting and contextualizing the work of key individuals involved in the Center’s history, and continued documentation of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. We support the acquisition of cultural heritage documentation actively commissioned and/or produced by the Center’s cultural sustainability programs in Armenia, Bhutan, and ethnic Tibetan communities in Western China, and maintain the linguistic documentation produced through its groundbreaking interdisciplinary program, Sustaining Minoritized Languages in Europe (SMiLE). In addition, the Rinzler Archives continues to build on existing strengths and opportunities:
- Ethnographic field notes, recordings, and other documentation resulting from fieldwork and other professional activities of Center staff
- Materials that document the folklife and sounds of America’s diverse communities
- Professional papers of current and former Center staff, fellows, research associates, contractors, Festival participants, and community activists who have a relationship with the Center
- Oral histories of individuals associated with present collections, including creators, fieldwork collaborators and interlocutors, and performers
- Audiovisual and business records from record labels whose commercial recordings are made available through Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
- Materials that complement existing record label collections (e.g., field recordings, personal unpublished papers of artists)
Individuals who wish to discuss a possible donation to the Rinzler Archives are encouraged to contact interim archives director Robert Leopold.