Accessing material

Archives at NCBS
How to access material at the Archives at NCBS

Rev 1: Mar 1 2022


Thank you for your interest in the Archives at NCBS. We'd be happy to help with your requests! There are a few ways of searching and finding things in the Archives, and we hope this is useful as a starting point.

Section 1: How to find material:

a) The full catalogue can be navigated starting here: The collections page gives an overview of all collections, and links out to the full catalog: Instructions on making requests to see the actual material are in Section 2.

b) We have put up a very small collection of about 400 objects in our public space from across the archive:

People can browse through these and link to it, of course. But if you wish to embed anything, the Archives has professionally digitized over 70% of its collections and can also send higher resolution images. To use anything from there for a publication/project, see the specific sections below.

c) You can also browse through a digital exhibition around the history of NCBS, and see if there is something there that catches your eye:


Most collections at the Archives at NCBS are described at the level of file/folder. All 'folder-level' descriptions at the Archives at NCBS follow a standard naming convention, and this is indicated in the field titled 'Identifier' in the catalog ( For instance, refer to the identifier, MS-007-2-2-10-7 for the file on correspondence between MS Swaminathan and BM Pal on 23 December 1957 and 31 December 1957 ( Here is the naming convention breakdown:

MS: Manuscripts; 

007: 7th manuscript collection at Archives at NCBS; 

2: Series number (Correspondence); 

2: Sub-series number (1954-1972); 

10: Box or container number or location; 

7: Folder or sub-container number.

The Archives at NCBS is only providing this information to help researchers understand the naming convention across the collections. Researchers using the archives only need to submit the full identifier in the Researcher Application or Material Use forms outlined in Section 2 and 3 below. 


Section 2: Research viewing requests:
All material in the archives can be seen after submitting a request form. These forms are available on the Archives About page: Within that page, scroll down to 'Resources' and click on 'Researcher Application'. Read and fill up the PDF file. It includes a standard list of instructions for researchers. Email the signed (digital is fine) PDF file to The archives will review the requests and make accessible anything that is not confidential at this moment. If you are able to come in person, we can share the physical material with you. This usually is the best way to have a look at large volumes of physical material. If you are not able to come, we will then set up an online drive to give you access to the material. Do note that this 'Researcher Application' form gives you access to view the material. This is permitted for research purposes. But it does not give permission to reproduce the material or quote from it. This is important, especially since the Archives does not always hold the copyright to material and in some cases, material has been given to us for viewing, but not for reproduction without consent. To use material, see the next section.


Section 3: To use material in any form of publication:
Please fill up the 'Material Use' form that is available under the 'Resources' section on the Archives About page: Email the signed (digital is fine) PDF file to 

Section 4: Visits in person to the Archives:
Do glance through the Researcher Application document before arrival for broader regulations at the archives. Keep in mind that the archives issues five folders at a time. There's no limit to the number of folders you can see, but researchers get five at their desk at one time and can then return those for the next five. As is standard practice, only pencils allowed when referring to material. We have digitized about 70% of the collection on our internal servers. So, please just ask us if you need digital copies for reference and avoid taking photographs with phones in a way that might damage the material.

The Archives at NCBS is normally open between 10am and 5:30pm, Mon to Fri (weekends by appointment). You can just walk in to campus and state that you wish to visit the archives and/or the exhibition. But due to campus restrictions, sometimes that can take a little longer than coming in with an appointment. So, we'd be grateful if you could just send us an email ( at least three days before the first date when you wish to come to campus with a list of all people + their email addresses.