Distance Copy Request

What is a copy request?

We offer copy request services for researchers who are unable to visit the library to view the materials in person. We do not offer in-depth research services.

For all copy request services, staff will make low-resolution, black-and-white PDF scans of specific materials in the MNHS collections.

All copies are made for research purposes only and services are compliant with the restrictions of US copyright law.

If you need paper copies
This copy service is specifically designed to provide digital scans. This allows us to provide materials to researchers faster, more efficiently, and more affordably than if we sent paper copies. However, we recognize that some researchers need their materials in hard copy. If you require paper copies, please contact our reference staff.

If you need high-resolution scans
This service is not designed to produce scans that are appropriate for publication, broadcast, or further reproduction. For higher-resolution scans of pages, documents, or photographs, please submit an image order.


Scans are sent via email from copyservices@mnhs.org and are sent as attachments whenever possible. If the files are too large to email, they will be uploaded to our file-sharing site. You will receive a notification email with a link to the site where you can download the file(s). These messages sometimes end up in email spam or junk folders, so be sure to check those as well as your inbox.

Copy request (book or article)

You can request the following materials. They are also available through interlibrary loan. Talk to your local public or academic library about submitting an interlibrary loan request on your behalf.

Placing a request

  1. Decide what you want copied.
  2. From the catalog record, make note of:
    • The title of the periodical or book
    • The title/date of the article
    • The call number from the record (for example, F612.R29 R675 1904)
    • Page numbers or chapter(s) of the book/article
  3. Determine the total number of pages you want copied.
    • The total number of pages you are requesting must be indicated on your order
    • The record will also indicate the number of pages in the “Format” line (in the linked example above, the record indicates the book is 12 pages long).
    • If you are unsure of the pages/chapters you need in a book, a table of contents and/or index can be sent to you free of charge. Please submit a separate order, indicating "index" and/or "table of contents" in the "Pages to Copy" box and selecting the 0 to 25 pages ($0) option.
  4. Submit a copy request (book or article) in the MNHS online store.

About copyrighted items

  • Books published before 1924 can usually be copied in their entirety
  • One chapter of a later, copyrighted book can usually be copied without any additional permissions required
  • If you would like more than one chapter of a post-1924 book, contact our reference staff before ordering. We will determine how much of the book we can copy for you at that time and send further instructions.
  • This service complies with the restrictions of US copyright law. Please do not place separate orders for multiple chapters in the same book in an attempt to circumvent copyright law.
Costs for copy request (book or article)
1 to 25 pagesFree
26 to 50 pages$5
51 to 100 pages$10
101 to 200 pages$20
Over 200 pagesContact our reference staff for a price quote

Copy request (folders from boxes)

You can request the following materials:

  • Folders from manuscript collections
  • Folders from county and state archives
  • Folders from other archival collections

The following materials cannot be copied through this service:

  • Records available through other library research services
  • Oversized items such as maps or blueprints. Submit an image order instead.
  • Ledger books or volumes. Submit an image order instead.
  • Audiovisual materials. Submit a media duplication order instead.
  • Records on microfilm
  • Folders containing "restricted" records. See more information regarding restricted collections.
  • Photographs in the Collections Online database. Submit an image order instead.
  • Very large orders may take a significantly longer time to complete. If you have questions about the size of your order, please email copyservices@mnhs.org.

Placing a request

  1. Locate the finding aid of the collection that interests you
  2. Make note of:
    • The title of the collection
    • The name/title/brief description of the folder(s) you want copied, as listed
    • The corresponding location and box number for the folder(s). There is not always a box number in addition to the location (for example, if there is only one box in the collection). If this is the case, no need to enter a box number, or type “no box #” after the location number.
  3. Submit a copy request (folders from boxes) in the MNHS online store.

Copy Request (microfilm)

This service can be used to request scans from one reel of microfilm per order. 

Scans can be made from:

  • Microfilmed manuscript collections.
  • Microfilmed state archives collections.
  • Individual pages or short sections of microfilmed newspapers.
  • Microfilmed plat maps 

Scans cannot be made from the following materials:

  • Full issues of newspapers, unless they are 100 years old or older.
  • Large selections from materials under copyright.
  • Collections that have access restrictions.
  • Microfilm from other institutions.

Orders will be canceled if scans fall under one of our other research services, such as:

Placing a request

  1. Locate the finding aid of the collection that interests you.
    1. Search the online finding aids, or
    2. Search the library and archives catalog. The record will have a link to the online finding aid if there is one.
    3. If there is no online finding aid, please contact our reference staff and we will send you a PDF scan of the paper finding aid.
  2. Make note of:
    1. The title of the collection
    2. How the materials are arranged:
      1. Chronologically by date or between dates.
      2. By correspondent/correspondents
      3. By locality, such as township, village, city or county.
      4. By some other organizing criteria as evident in the finding aid
    3. The name/title/brief description of the materials  you want copied, as listed
    4. The corresponding location and reel number for the materials.
    5. Remember, if your materials are on two or more reels of microfilm, you will need to submit a request for each reel you want scans from.
  3. Submit a Copy Request (microfilm) form in the MNHS online store.

Please be aware that photographs and drawings on microfilm are often over- or under-exposed and/or out of focus. Staff will do their best to scan images, but they will never look as good as the non-microfilmed originals.

Special formats

If a requested folder contains any audio-visual or oversized materials (including maps or blueprints), a placeholder sheet with item information will be scanned in lieu of that item. Information on requesting a copy of the special format(s) will be included when the scans are emailed.

Costs for copy request (folders from boxes)

  • $5 per folder (up to 5 total from the same box).
  • Use the monthly discount code to get $5 off one order of copies of folders for boxes. Codes are listed on the Copy Request (folders from boxes) form.
  • If you need more than 5 folders scanned from the same box, please email copyservices@mnhs.org with all the information about what you want copied for a price quote.

Virtual Viewing

  • Patrons who are unsure what they want to be copied may schedule a Virtual Viewing Appointment (not available for materials with potential restrictions or materials in microfilm and microfiche format).