Archive Policies

The Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives houses printed programs, press clippings, posters, photographs, administrative files, and an extensive collection of radio broadcast tapes of concerts and commercial recordings.

The audio/visual collection makes up about one-third of the Archives' entire holdings and contains commercial recordings and radio broadcast master tapes of the BSO, the Pops, and the Boston Symphony Chamber Players. Also included are recordings of Tanglewood Music Center student concerts dating back to the mid-1970s and a collection of nearly 100 oral history interviews with retired orchestra members or their surviving family members. The Archives also houses a collection of films and broadcast-quality videotapes dating back to the 1940s.

Research Services
Reading Room: Located in Symphony Hall, the Archives is open to researchers on an appointment basis Monday - Friday. Please call (617) 638-9434 to make an appointment or send an email to

Reference Service by Mail, Fax, Telephone, or Email: The Archives offers a fee-based search service to assist those who are unable to visit in person. There is a basic search fee of $15.00 per hour (with a $15.00 minimum) plus additional charges for copying. Please note that there are also fees for duplication of materials.

Requests may be made via the telephone, however, the Archives strongly recommends that requests be submitted in writing, either through the mail, via fax, or e-mail.

Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives
Symphony Hall
Boston, MA 02115

Fax: 617-638-9433

Please provide us with as much information as possible that is relevant to your request.

Archives Policy Statement
The Boston Symphony Orchestra, recognizing the permanent value of its official records, has established the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives and the following policy to insure the preservation of these materials. The purpose of the Archives is to facilitate the present work of the BSO, by evaluating, processing, and administering its non-current official records and implementing a records management program. It will also make these holdings accessible to scholars, thereby encouraging appreciation of the history of the BSO, the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, the Boston Pops Orchestra, the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, Symphony Hall, Tanglewood, and the Tanglewood Music Center. All officers and administrative staff of the BSO, as well as conductors and members of the Orchestra, who possess official files by virtue of administrative responsibilities, are requested to observe the following:

All papers of records generated or received by officers and employees of the BSO in the conduct of their responsibilities-including financial records, official printed material, minutes committee files, correspondence, photographs, blueprints, and associated materials-are the property of the BSO and are not to be destroyed without the approval of the Archivist and Archival Review Committee. These may be permanently valuable for administrative purposes; they may have enduring legal and evidential value; or they may support historical research. The Archivist shall determine the permanent value of the records. The Archivist, in consultation with the person in charge of each department or office, will determine how long records should be retained before they are destroyed or transferred to the Archives.

Acquisition Policy for the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives

N.B. For the purposes of this document, the term "records" will be defined broadly to include all recorded information regardless of format and including written and printed documents, machine-readable documents, photographic images, and audio/visual materials.

The Archives Policy statement, approved by the Board of Trustees of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) in June of 1991, authorizes the Archives to carry out a comprehensive program of archives and records management for the BSO. The BSO Archives serves as the central repository for information and records created by, for, and about the BSO. It exists to identify, collect, and preserve records of enduring value to the BSO community and to deliver a useful information service to its members as well as to the public at large. It also serves a broader purpose of ensuring that an adequate documentation of the BSO exists.

In pursuing its mission, the Archives recognizes a two-fold responsibility within a program of records and archives management. It has a primary responsibility to select, receive, describe, reference, and administer recorded data in all formats produced as part of the official business of the BSO (official records). It also actively collects records in various formats created outside the BSO (non-official records) that bear on the history of the various facets of the BSO, including Tanglewood, the Tanglewood Music Center, the Boston Pops, the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Chamber Players and other ensembles of the BSO, Youth Concerts, Symphony Hall, and the musicians and staff members that make up the BSO. The Archives also collects reference library materials that complement archival work and research.

Official records of the BSO will not be accepted in the Archives unless they are covered by a records disposal schedule.

Non-official records accepted into the Archives must meet the following criteria: 1) the depositor or donor must be authorized to transfer the title to the material; 2) the material must undergo archival appraisal and be recommended for retention - the material should be unique, its authenticity must be documented, it must be in reasonable condition, and the Archives must be able to care for it properly; 3) the material should be free of legal encumbrances or access restrictions that will diminish its research potential; and 4) material must become the property of the Archives, to be administered as the Archives sees fit.

Questions concerning the transfer or donation of materials to the Archives should be addressed to the Archivist at (617) 638-9434.