Libraries & Special Collections > Services and Fees

E-mail Reference Service

Due to resource constraints, as well as the inherent restrictions of the electronic medium, there is a minimal amount of reference service that SHSI can provide via e-mail.

All e-mail requests must include the following information:

  • your first and last name
  • a mailing address (street, city, state, zip code)
  • a telephone number
  • a fax number if available.

Response time for e-mail requests is 10 working days from the date of receipt. E-mail inquiries for the Des Moines Library should be directed to and inquiries for the Iowa City Library should be sent to

With the exception of inquiries that are very simple (such as who was the first territorial governor of Iowa, what type of information does the 1925 state census contain, or what is the county seat of Warren county), SHSI requests that you send research questions via regular mail either to our Iowa City or Des Moines library.

In addition, there are various guidelines related to reference services via regular mail that you should be aware of. See Reference and Photocopy Services & Fees for more information.

Types of requests that need to utilize SHSI's professional researchers list: most requests from non-Iowa residents that are genealogical in nature, and extensive (potentially over 2 hours) historical research requests from Iowa or non-Iowa residents.

Types of research requests that SHSI can respond to through correspondence: if you are an Iowa resident, or are writing from outside of Iowa with a specific question related to Iowa history subject matter, please send a written request, with payment of $15.00 (this payment covers up to 30 minutes of staff research time, and up to 10 photocopies - any additional staff time, photocopying, and postage will be billed to you).

Alternatively, you may wish to place an Inter-library loan (ILL) request through your local library to utilize SHSI's newspaper, census, and other miscellaneous collections on microfilm. If you are conducting genealogy research, there are many family history sites that can offer valuable information.  For a sampling, go to our family history links.

Please feel free to contact us if  you have any questions about our email policy.

319-335-3916 (Iowa City) or 515-281-6200 (Des Moines)

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