The Theosophical Society in America


Access to the Archives

The Theosophical Society in America wants its archival materials to be used by members, academic researchers, and members of the general public. The Archivist is responsible to establish means of access to archival collections that meet the needs of these constituencies while maintaining meeting legal obligations, donor preferences, and the preservation needs of the collections.
Archival collections are stored in closed stacks in controlled environments, and are not open to browsing except under very special circumstances.

Read more: Access to the Archives

Copyright, Privacy, and Confidentiality

The Theosophical Society in America respects laws regarding copyright, privacy, and confidentiality. Users of the Archives are instructed on the need to comply with all relevant laws. However, the Archives assumes no responsibility for abuse of literary or copyright restrictions by users of research materials. Some archival materials may be restricted for legal reasons such as an ongoing lawsuit. Names and other identifying information will have to be redacted in medical cases and some financial papers.


Fees may be charged for photocopies, scans, and research efforts, and also for use of reproductions in commercial publications. Fees are re-evaluated periodically and kept in a range that is considered reasonable for similar repositories.
: Letter or legal size photocopies cost $.25 each. Images can be printed on 11” x 17” pages for $.50 each. In some cases, long documents can be copied in a batch using our large photocopiers, at a lower cost per page. It may not be possible to photocopy fragile items. Photocopying of library materials such as books and periodicals is invoiced through the Henry S. Olcott Memorial Library at the rate of $12 for the first 15 pages.

Scans of photos or documents that are 9” x 12” or smaller cost $2.00 each. Larger items up to 11” x 17” cost $5.00 each. Scans can be provided in PDF, JPEG or TIFF format. In some cases, long letter size documents can be scanned as PDFs using large automated photocopiers, at a lower cost per page. It may not be possible to scan fragile items.

Reproduction for publication:
Digital images can be provided in JPEG or TIFF format. The author or editor should acknowledge the source with the phrase “Courtesy of Theosophical Society in America Archives”. No fee is charged for 1-5 images to be used in an academic publication, in exchange for a copy of that publication to be added to our national library. Otherwise, images will cost $30 each.

Reproduction for commercial use:
Digital images can be provided in JPEG or TIFF format.  Images for advertising and other non-editorial uses such as book covers, posters and brochures will require a fee of $60 per image.

Audiovisual materials:
Providing CDs or DVDs of audiovisual materials is possible in some cases. Ask the Archivist to estimate the cost of reproduction and shipping.

Researchers who cannot come to our campus to work in person may request our Archivist to do the research work on their behalf. The charge will be $25 per hour after the first hour, plus any relevant fees for photocopying or scanning.

Shipping costs will be calculated on a case-by-case basis, and will be provided in advance.

Digital cameras and personal scanners:
Use of personal equipment such as a digital camera may be permitted in our reading room, but the researcher will be expected to make a monetary contribution in support of the Archives. Such images are for personal use only, and permission is still required to post images online or use them in publications.

Fee waivers:
Fees are usually waived for TSA members and affiliated organizations.

Appraisals of Gifts

Donations of historical material to the Archives may be tax deductible. However, the Theosophical Society in America Archives cannot appraise donations for tax purposes. If an appraisal is needed, it should be performed by a disinterested third party, before title to the material is conveyed to the Archives. The Archivist can provide the donor a letter confirming that a donation was made and that the TSA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.


Archival materials are not routinely loaned to individuals or organizations, and are not available for interlibrary loan. If an item is requested for use in a display or research project, the TSA Archivist and the President may decide jointly the conditions under which the loan could take place. The borrower must sign an agreement specifying the item needed, with details of transportation, security, term of loan, preservation measures, display format, handling, and wording of labels acknowledging the identity and ownership of the item. Copyright, privacy, confidentiality, and the terms of any deed of gift involved must be considered in drawing up the agreement.