Research with the Folger

Although our Reading Room is currently closed due to a major building renovation project, researchers can still take advantage of our available reference services

The Folger Shakespeare Library is an independent research library devoted to study in the Renaissance and early modern period. In addition to one of the world’s finest collections of 15th- through 18th-century rare books and manuscripts from Great Britain and Europe and editions of Shakespeare’s plays, the Folger holds materials related to art, performance, and theatrical history through the 20th-century, 19th-century scholarship of Shakespeare and contemporaries, and Shakespeare-related ephemera.

We welcome researchers from a broad spectrum: high school students to graduate students; visual and performing artists; writers of all stripes; and, of course, educators of all levels.

So pull up a chair (virtual for now!), check out our spectrum of online resources and the links on this page, and see what the Folger can do to help you with your research.

Connect with the Researcher Services Team

Our Researcher Services team is here to support anyone with an interest in our collections, wherever they may be geographically located. We can easily be reached from our Ask A Librarian page. Through this form we can answer questions, set up a web conference for individual research consultations, or even schedule a virtual class session!

We can help with:

  • Primary Source Research: We can help you find material both at the Folger and elsewhere in the world.
  • Secondary Source Research: We can help you identify scholarship related to your work and help you find ways to access those books and articles.
  • General Subject Assistance: If you're just getting started on a topic, we can point you to places to start your research.
  • Provenance Research for Folger Items: We're happy to provide ownership and acquisition history for the items in our collection.

Online Instructional Videos

Need tips and tricks for searching our catalog? Want some guidance for using one of our online resources? Check out our library of instructional videos for guidance on Research Essentials and Hamnet How-tos.

Being a Folger Researcher

Registered researchers will have access to select electronic databases through their online request account. Don't have an account yet? You can register with us.