MNHS Copyright and Use Information

All material on the Minnesota Historical Society website is copyright Minnesota Historical Society unless otherwise indicated. It is for the personal use of students, scholars and the public. Copying or redistribution for commercial gain without permission of the Minnesota Historical Society is prohibited.

The nature of historical archival collections means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult to determine. Whenever possible, the Minnesota Historical Society provides information about copyright owners and other restrictions in the catalog records, finding aids and donor records. The Minnesota Historical Society provides such information as a service to aid patrons in determining the appropriate use of an item, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the patron.

Images, footage and other content reproduced from the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society are for viewing, research and personal use only. Permission for commercial use or any publication, manipulation, display or distribution must be pre-approved by the Minnesota Historical Society.

Permission and license to use reproductions from images in Collections Online can be obtained by using the e-commerce system, clicking first on the "buy" button next to the image. For collection images not in Collections Online, permission and license to use photographic reproductions is granted via a Image Use/Permission Request Form (PDF). Permission for using moving image footage, sound recordings and other non-image collection materials is handled using format-specific paperwork. Contact the Reference Library for more information.

Many — but not all — uses of Minnesota Historical Society materials will incur licensing fees.

Conditions of Use:

  1. Possession of images, footage, or other content duplicated from the Minnesota Historical Society collections does not constitute permission to use it.
  2. Permission and license to reproduce, publish, broadcast or display a Minnesota Historical Society image from the Collections 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 Image Use/Permission Request Form (PDF). For other types of materials, permission and license must be requested in writing; contact the Reference Department for more information.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Photographs and footage 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 this form.
  8. Minnesota Historical Society reserves the right to decline permission to requestors who have not complied with these conditions or whose use is deemed inappropriate.
  9. 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.
  10. In some cases, the Society will request that a copy of the finished product be donated to the Society. Please contact:
    MNHS Collections Department
    345 Kellogg Blvd. West
    St. Paul, MN 55102-1906

Permission can be granted for these types of use:

  • Advertising
  • Broadcast or media production (television, radio, motion picture, or web)
  • Merchandise items
  • Public display, exhibit or presentation
  • Publications
    • Books (trade books, text books, self-published books, e-books)
    • Brochure or pamphlet
    • Magazine or Journal (print or online)
    • Newspaper (print or online)
  • Website