Searching for Photographs
Q: How can I search for photographs online?
Use Search MNHS Research Materials
to search a variety of records. To search for just photographs, use the “Photographs” filter in the Narrow by Type list on the left side of the screen.
Q: Are all of the MNHS photographs included in the search?
No. The majority of our individually-cataloged photos are in the online search. However, most of the photographs that are in State Archives records, manuscript collections, and larger photograph collections are not included in the search.
Q: How can I see a photograph that says No Digital Image?
Researchers who visit the Gale Family Library in the Minnesota History Center can view prints of any photographs that do not have online images.
- To search just photographs, use the “Photographs” filter in the Narrow by Type list on the left side of the screen.
- To see only photographs that have online images, click on the box next to "Narrow to items with a digital image," at the top of the left-hand column.
- Make full use of options like SoundEx and wildcards (? and #).
- If you are looking for an image of a building or place, try searching for the name or address. Then try searching the street or intersection names, or the name of a neighboring building like a church or business.
- Notice that your results are sorted by "Closest Match" by default. You can switch to two different chronological sorts (oldest first or newest first) and this can make browsing easier.
Q: What is SoundEx and how can I use it?
Soundex is an indexing system to help search for records related to people. It is based on how a surname sounds rather than how it is spelled, so it enables one-step searching for variant spellings of a names. For example, using Soundex on Anderson would return results like Andreson, Andersen, Anderstrom, Andreason, Anderton. SoundEx is based on the first letter of the last name, so it is crucial that this letter is known and has been correctly transcribed from documents.
Our search systems allow you to apply a SoundEx filter to last names. Just click on the
Q: Can MNHS staff research photographs for me?
We can help you place an order if you are having difficulty and we are more than happy to give you search advice, but regretfully we do not have the staff or resources to do in-depth research for our patrons.
Q: How do I order a print or digital scan of an image?
For images found in the online system, click the 'Buy' button and then make the selections for your preferences (Print, Digital File, etc.).
Q: Why do some images have a 'Buy' button while others do not?
Images with no 'Buy' button are not for sale by MNHS. In some cases these images may be available for purchase from another source, such as the artist or photographer who created it. If this information is known it will be found in the record for the image.
Q: May I order images from a manuscript or other MNHS collection using the online system?
No. Online ordering of images is limited to those found in the online system. To order photographs--or digital scans of documents or other items--from manuscripts and other collections, use the Image Order Form
. Only images not in the Collections Online database should be ordered with this form.
Q: How much does an image reproduction cost?
The price of a paper print is determined by the size of the paper. The price of a digital scan is determined by the resolution of the image. Digital copies of oversized materials (usually things like maps and architectural drawings that are larger than 16 x 20 inches) will be $30.
Image Price List
|Epson Paper Print: 8.5 x 11
|Epson Paper Print: 13 x 19
|Epson Paper Print: 16 x 21
|Digital Scan Minimum: 1500 pixel digital file
|Digital Scan Medium: 3000 pixel digital file
|Digital Scan Large: 6000 pixel digital file
|Digital Scan Maximum: 12000 pixel digital file
Q: Which file size should I select?
- 1500 pixel file size is a minimum quality image that is best for Internet publishing, reports, and presentations. It will be scaled to an output of 150 ppi at 10 inches on the long dimension of the original document or photograph.
- 3000 pixel file size is a medium quality image that is best for most publishing and small enlargements for display. It will be scaled to an output of 300 ppi at 10 inches on the long dimension of the original document or photograph.
- 6000 pixel file size is a good quality image that is best for high end publishing and quality enlargements for display. It will be scaled to an output of 600 ppi at 10 inches on the long dimension of the original document or photograph.
- 12000 pixel file size is a maximum quality image that is best for enlarging the image for exhibit, very large display, and murals. It will be scaled to an output of 1200 ppi at 10 inches on the long dimension of the original document or photograph.
Q: May I order images without providing my credit card information online?
Yes. However, in order to properly track your order, we ask you to place it using our online system. Instead of paying with a credit card online, during the checkout process you can request an offline payment and then send your payment in the mail. Please include your order number and/or a copy of your order confirmation with the check to speed processing. You can also call our Copy Services staff (651-259-3301) and provide a credit card number. When we receive payment, we’ll process your order.
Q: How long will it take for my order to be filled?
When your order is received, we will first check to be sure that the image can be copied, according to our guidelines, copyright restrictions, etc. Non-Rush orders will then be completed within 7 days of permission being granted for copying. Rush service is available for an added fee of 100% of the cost per image and rush orders will be completed in 1-3 business days from the date of permission.
Please contact us for a completion date for orders with 40+ images.
Q: How will my order be delivered?
You should select the shipping/delivery method that works best for you during the online shopping process. Shipping and handling are included in the price.
- You may choose to pick-up your order during Reference Library hours.
- Prints will be shipped rolled in a tube via US Mail.
- JPEG formatted files under 1MB or 1000k are shipped via e-mail.
- Large JPEG and TIFF formatted files are delivered through a secure FTP site or shipped on a CD through the US Mail. (MNHS reserves the right to ship digital files via email or FTP-web to save costs)
- For security reasons we cannot copy files onto disks or flash drives provided by customers.
- A packing slip or use and permission PDF is shipped/emailed with each order.
Permissions and Licensing
Q: What is a Use Agreement and why do I need one?
You need a Use Agreement to verify that you have requested and received permission from the Minnesota Historical Society to use an image in a commercial or public manner. The Use Agreement entitles you to use the image in the way you indicated and within the terms specified in the Conditions of Use.
Q: What are the standard Conditions of Use?
- Possession of images, footage, or other content duplicated from the Minnesota Historical Society collections does not constitute permission to use it.
- Permission and license to reproduce, publish, broadcast or display a Minnesota Historical Society image from the online system must be obtained electronically through that system. For images not in Collections Online, permission and license must be requested in writing, using this Request for Permission form (PDF). For other types of materials, permission and license must be requested in writing; contact the Reference Department for more information.
- Permission is for one-time, one-project use only. Minnesota Historical Society retains all rights to images, footage or other content duplicated from the Minnesota Historical Society collections. The duplications may not be used for any purpose other than what is expressly defined in the use or license agreement.
- If a use fee applies, it must be paid in advance of receiving a permission form signed by authorized staff at the Minnesota Historical Society.
- Credit must be given to the Minnesota Historical Society and the creator of the original work, if known. Credit must appear on or below the image/footage/content, or in a designated credit section. For web uses, hover-view credits only are not acceptable.
- If copyright is still in effect and the copyright is not held by Minnesota Historical Society, the requestor must seek permission from the creator of the original work or from the current copyright holder. MNHS will provide the creator's name, if known.
- Photographs may be cropped to suit design and layout, but they may not be altered, colorized or drawn upon without a letter of permission in addition to the standard permission form.
- Minnesota Historical Society reserves the right to decline permission to requestors who have not complied with these conditions or whose use is deemed inappropriate.
- Minnesota Historical Society assumes no responsibility for infraction of copyright laws, invasion of privacy or any other improper or illegal use that may arise from reproduction of any collection materials. Requestor assumes full and sole responsibility for the use of the duplication and shall pay and indemnify and hold Minnesota Historical Society and its agents harmless from and against all claims, damages, losses, costs, expenses, and liabilities of every kind (including attorneys' fees) arising out of the requestor's use, or out of the requestor's breach or alleged breach of the use or license agreement.
- In some cases, the Society will request that a copy of the finished product be donated to the Society. Please contact the MNHS Collections Department for more information about providing copies of finished products:
MNHS Collections Department
345 Kellogg Blvd. West
St. Paul, MN 55102-1906
Q: Are there fees for using images from the MN Historical Society's collections?
It depends on who is using the image and what they are using it for. Generally, we do not charge fees for personal uses, or for uses by Minnesota media and Minnesota-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations. The standard use fees are in the chart below.
Use Fee Price List
|Type of Use
||Personal uses, MN non-profits, & MN media
||Commercial uses, non-MN non-profits, & non-MN media
| Under 1,000 print only
| 1,000 - 25,000 (Print and/or E-Book)
| Over 25,000 (Print and/or E-Book)
| Electronic bundle (includes website)
|Broadcast media bundle (includes website)
| Regional market
| National or World market
|Website only 3-year license
Q. What are the different types of image use?
- Personal Use: The image(s) will be used only in a private home or office.
- Minnesota Non-Profit: The image(s) will be published, displayed, or broadcast by a Minnesota-based 501(c)(3) organization. Any profit from the publication, display, or broadcast will go into the account of the non-profit organization and not to any individual or corporation.
- Minnesota Media Company: A publisher or broadcaster whose audience base is primarily within Minnesota.
- Commercial Use: The image(s) will be published, displayed, or broadcast in a commercial environment for profit. This includes commercial website representing a person or corporation who sells goods or services.
- Public Display: The image(s) will be displayed in a public environment, such as a restaurant, museum, sales office, or reception area, or on a website, blog, or mobile medium available to the public.
- Broadcast Media Bundle: The image(s) will be used in a moving image project like a television broadcast, film, or online streaming broadcast. The bundle includes advertising and selling copies of the program/film.
Q. If I already have an image but not a Use Agreement, how do I get a Use Agreement without purchasing the image again?
- Use Search MNHS Research Materials to find the image you want to use.
- Click the 'Buy' button.
- In the store, select "Use Only"
- If you have the order number of the original order, enter it into the box labeled "What was your previous order number?" during the order process.
- Complete the order.