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The archive of the El Cerrito Historical Society (“the Society”) is located at the Dorothy and Sundar Shadi History Room (“the Shadi Room”). The Society collects and preserves materials in the interest of i) preserving the history of El Cerrito and the surrounding area and ii) making its collection available to members, researchers and the public. This material includes manuscripts, books, ephemera, photographs, maps, sound recordings, and moving images concerned with the history of El Cerrito and the surrounding area.

Although it will be many years before a comprehensive catalog of the Society’s collection is available, the Society wants to make its collection available to members, researchers and the public but also preserve the collection to ensure its availability for future generations. Given the fragile nature of some of the material, the Society’s immediate objective is to conserve its collection to archival standards and then digitalize much of it.


The Shadi Room is open to researchers on the third Thursday of the month from 4:30 PM to 6 PM. Access at other times may be arranged with the Shadi Room staff.


All researchers are required to register on the Sign-In log, providing their research topic or subject of interest along with their name, and address. Visitors who wish to take photographs in the Shadi Room must sign the appropriate box on the Sign-In log.


No material may be removed from the Shadi Room at any time.
Unnecessary coats, briefcases, parcels, and personal books are not permitted in the Shadi Room.
No ink of any kind may be used in the Shadi Room; use pencils only. Tablets, laptop computers, cell phone cameras (in airplane mode only, telephone capability disabled), and film/digital cameras and may be brought into the archives and used at the discretion of the Shadi Room staff, subject to both the limitations described in the Use of Cameras section below and the following limitations: NO personal flatbed or handheld scanners, tablet cameras, laptop cameras, tabletop tripods, video cameras, camera bags, flash, lights, extension cords, audio, or stools may be used.

Eating or drinking are allowable with the permission of the Shadi Room staff and then only if the entire table, desk, or surface where the food or beverage is placed is completely free of any historical materials from the archives.

All archival materials must be handled with great care. Use only one folder, volume, or binder at a time and keep the papers in their existing order. Do not place books or volumes face down. Do not lean or press on archival materials. Do not trace maps or other records.

Researchers are advised that it is their responsibility, not the responsibility of the Society, to obtain copyright clearance to publish or otherwise reproduce or distribute archival material. If possible, the Shadi Room staff will provide the names and addresses of copyright holders.

If publishing material obtained from the Shadi Room, please credit the Society for each item as follows (the Society will provide a family name for each image):
El Cerrito Historical Society, courtesy of the John Smith family

Cell phone cameras (in airplane mode only, telephone capability disabled) and film/digital cameras) and film/digital cameras (“Personal cameras”) may be used in the Shadi Room under certain conditions, depending on the physical condition of materials, copyright law, and other rules of the Shadi Room. This policy seeks to balance research needs, collection preservation, and the Society's interests. In addition to the types of cameras listed above, library book cradles, floor-based tripods, foam supports, and snakes may be used. NO personal flatbed or handheld scanners, tablet cameras, laptop cameras, tabletop tripods, video cameras, camera bags, flash (visible light or infrared), lights, extension cords, audio, or stools may be brought into the Shadi Room or used.

The use of flash equipment (visible light or infrared) is prohibited. Users may be asked to take a test shot to demonstrate that the flash function of their camera is deactivated before proceeding. Please handle all material with care. If the physical condition of a volume will allow photography, Shadi Room staff may assist in positioning the item such that it is fully supported. Do not lay a book flat, attempt to open a volume more than its spine will easily allow, or push down on the leaves of the book to flatten it. Manuscript material must be photographed in its folder, in the order in which it has been arranged. Multiple sheets may not be removed to be combined into a single shot. Please ask if you need assistance.

Furniture may not be rearranged. Patrons may not stand on chairs or tables. Material may not be placed on the floor or any surface other than the table in use. Material may not be folded or removed from sleeves or mats. The Shadi Room staff will assess the physical condition of items to be photographed and will assist when fasteners must be removed. If an item is too fragile, photography will not be allowed; please inquire about possible options. All patrons wishing to take photographs in the Shadi Room must initial the box on the Sign-In log and comply with all rules.

Photographs must be for personal use only. Patrons interested in acquiring high resolution, publishable images for a fee should ask the Shadi Room staff about options. A completed citation flag must be included in each shot. PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN IN THE SHADI ROOM MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, POSTED ON THE INTERNET, DONATED OR SOLD TO ANOTHER REPOSITORY, OR EXHIBITED. However, they may be used in class assignments or unpublished theses. Photography is meant to reduce the need for photocopies and to supplement note taking, not to create a complete personal copy. Patrons are responsible for complying with copyright law.


Because the Society is still in the early days of cataloguing the collection, some requests for information will require some research to locate an item in the collection. Such research diverts resources from the Society’s conservation, cataloguing and imaging efforts. Shadi Room staff will provide assistance as they are able to, but the limitation of available volunteer hours may cause the time frame of a research project to be indeterminate and subject to interruption. The Society’s priorities are:

Services in support of the Society’s interpretative, conservation and educational efforts.
Services that support scholarly publication advancing the general knowledge of El Cerrito and the surrounding area.

Services supporting the interests of the City of El Cerrito and of the Society’s institutional partners.
Individual users, in the following order:

a) Services supporting the interests of active Society members.
b) Services supporting the interests of the public at large.
Smaller orders will have preference.


As a non-profit educational institution, the Society strives to be of service to the public. Since volunteers provide all services, the Society can only make its materials available within the limits of these resources. Requests for service are accepted subject to an acknowledgement that they will be processed according to the priorities above and may be subject to delay. The Society will do what it can to provide as timely service as is possible. We will also provide a cost estimate before proceeding with any request.


The Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) applies to the reproduction (including photocopying) of copyrighted material. Libraries and archives are authorized to provide a photocopy or other reproduction of materials only under certain “fair use” conditions specified in the law. A condition of such reproduction is that the document is not “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” Copies may not be used for commercial purposes.

Should a user obtain a copy under this “fair use” condition and then later use it for purposes not specified in this condition, that user may be liable for copyright violation.

The Society permits “fair use” of documents and images from its collections for private study, scholarship, teaching, criticism, news reporting, comment, or research only. Publication, exhibition, commercial use, or reproduction of any material from the Society’s collections, in either physical or digital form, is prohibited without prior written permission of the Society. For further information on "fair use" and copyright law, consult the Library of Congress website.


Many of the images contained in the Society’s Archives that were produced or published prior to 1923 are public domain images. The Society does not research each image in its collection to determine or guarantee freedom from copyright. The Society only claims physical possession of the material. Materials may be protected by copyright, trademark, or otherwise, including possible rights of privacy. The user of reproduced material from the Society’s collection assumes responsibility for any copyright liability and release violation issues that may arise from such use.

If you would like to use images from the Society’s collection for publication or exhibition, please send a letter to the Society requesting permission specifying an explanation of how the image(s) will be used, the publisher or sponsor of the work, the print run and/or production amount/circulation estimate and whether the image is being used for non-profit purposes.

The Society reserves all reproduction rights and gives no exclusive rights for the use of its materials. When given, permission is granted for a one-time use only. The Society reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of it would involve violation of copyright law.


Unless restricted or protected by copyright conditions, black and white photocopies of material will be supplied for research purposes at the rate of 50 cents per 8.5” x 11” page. Although there is no precise limit on the number of pages, it may not be possible to fill an order on the day requested, and the Society may need to carry out the work over a period of time. Both copies on other sizes of paper and color copies are more expensive.


The Society will supply just an electronic image (via email or on a CD or USB drive) for a price of $20 per image. The Society will supply just a print of an image only for a price of $25 per image. The Society will supply both an electronic image (via email or on a CD or USB drive) and a print of the image for a price of $30 per image. Please note that the largest print the Society can make is 8” x 10”. Because of the format or resolution of the original image, the actual size of a print is often somewhat less than the maximum of 8” x 10”. There is no cost savings on printed images that are smaller than 8” x 10”.