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A Guide to Using the Joseph Campbell Papers at the New York Public Library

For a description of each of the eight series of papers and the most up to date information about accessing the collection, click here.

Step 1: Locate your desired materials

The Joseph Campbell papers date from 1905 to 1995 (bulk dates 1930s-1980s), and consist of materials related to Campbell’s career as a college professor, lecturer, researcher, and author. The collection is arranged into eight Series, and holds Campbell’s original writing; teaching materials; files from his appearances in film and television; his research files; correspondence; photographs; and press clippings. Campbell’s files detail his research and writing work on mythology and literature, and chronicle the many lectures he gave throughout his career.

Detailed descriptions of the items in each series may be viewed here.

A full PDF of descriptions of each item in the series may be downloaded here.

To create a request list for materials, note the box number (the number following the “b.” in the description of the material) as well as the file number the number following the “f.” in the description of the material to include with the request when you make your appointment to access the collection. This will ensure that the library has the correct boxes pulled and ready for you when you arrive. Below is an example of what a request list might look like.

Step 2: Request access to the collection

The papers are housed in the Manuscripts and Archives Division located inside the Stephen A. Schwartzman Building of the New York Public Library. This division is located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in New York City. Once an appointment has been made to access the collection, researchers may conduct their work in the Brooke Russell Astor Reading Room (Room 328) on the third floor of the building.

To request access to the collection, click here

Below is an example of the “request submission form” when applying to access the collection.

Once your request has been submitted, an acknowledgement of your request should be received from the NYPL.

Once your request is approved, you should receive notification outlining the confirmation of your appointment, the boxes that will be pulled for you, rules for what is permitted in the research room as well as polices regarding behavior once inside the research room.

Step 3: Request a NYPL Card

In order to access the collection, the library requires that you apply for a NYPL card. Cards are free and can be applied for online and picked up on the day of your visit at the Rose Main Reading Room’s central desk. A valid ID is required to pick up your card and to access the research room. All who wish to enter the research room, including research assistants, must possess a NYPL card.

To apply for a NYPL card, click here.

When your application is received, you should receive a confirmation email.

Step 4: Visiting the Collection

The 42nd Street entrance to the Stephen A. Schwarzman building is the most ideal for reaching the research room. Once inside the building, proceed to the Rose Main Reading Room on the ground floor to pick up your library card. From there, take the elevator or the stairs to the third floor of the building. Proceed through the Bill Blass Public Catalog Room (Room 315). After exiting the room, make a right into the large public reading room. The Brooke Russell Astor Reading Room for Rare Books and Manuscripts (Room 329) is at the far end of the room.

The door to the room is locked. Gently knock and a Research Librarian will let you in. Once inside, the librarian will check your library card and ID, check you in and provide you with instructions. The librarian will then pull the first box you have requested, set you up at a research table, and go over the rules with you.

Personal and cell phone cameras are permitted for taking research-related photography. However, all photographs, for any use, must be logged. Photography logs must be submitted to the librarian before leaving. Incomplete logs will be returned to the researcher the following day as the research continues. It is recommended that researchers take a photograph of their log sheets as these sheets will be turned over to the NYPL when research is complete, and before the researcher exits the room. Photographs are not permitted for publication. Tripods are not allowed in the room.

Step 5: Citing and Crediting Research for Publication

It is important to remember The New York Public Library does not hold the copyright to all of the original materials in its collections. It is the researcher’s responsibility to obtain permission to publish from appropriate copyright owners. The Joseph Campbell Foundation should be contacted in order to secure permission for using items from Campbell’s papers and photographs in publications.

Permission must be obtained from the Joseph Campbell Foundation to publish or quote from original materials for which the JCF owns copyright. Permissions may be addressed to Michael Lambert at The permission request should include:

  • Type of publication (book, article, chapter)
  • Proposed title (include title of book, if this is only a chapter in an anthology or edited book)
  • Name of publisher
  • Expected date of publication
  • Indicate if it is a scholarly or commercial publication.

Use the following format to cite materials from the collection:

First citation: [Item and date], Box #, Folder # (or: f. #), Name of Papers/Collection, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library.

Second citation: [Item and date], abbreviated collection name, Box #, Folder #.