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Brent – I think that’s real typical of Native American archives. Those BIA records are so vitally important for doing any kind of Native American research, but who can afford to go to Washington, D.C., and spend weeks researching! Being government records, they generally don’t care if you have copies.
Photocopies can act somewhat like microfilm “editions” of manuscript collections. Back in the day, archives could get grants to have their important collections microfilmed and then other archives would purchase copies of the microfilm. If a donor offers you photocopies of useful archival material that they just don’t want to give up, but you would really like to have in your collection, it’s kind of the same thing.