Photographs: Research & Ordering

Subjects: How-To Guides
Tags: arts, how-to, photos

Basic Searching

Use Search MNHS Research Materials to search a variety of records:

  1. Enter a search term
  2. Click "Search"
  3. Click on "Show Research Materials" tab at the top of the results page
  • Limit results to only photographs, use the “Photographs” filter in the Narrow by Type list on the left side of the screen. 
  • Find out more about an image by clicking on its title.
  • Enlarge the small, thumbnail image by clicking on it and then go back to results list by clicking off to the side of the enlarged image.  

Why do some images not have a digital image online? "No Digital Image" icon
Most of these images simply haven't been digitized yet, while a few have copyright, cultural, or other reasons for not appearing online. With only a handful of exceptions, researchers who visit the Gale Family Library in person can view prints of any photographs that do not have digital images.   

Are all MNHS images in the online 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.   

Search Hints

General Search Tips:

  • Keep it simple: Start with one or two search terms, then add more or use filters to focus your search. 
  • Think creatively about search terms: For horse-drawn carriages, you might try carriage, coach, and buggy.
  • Use quotation marks to search for an exact phrase in an exact order ("Civil War").
  • Use the ? and * wildcard characters to search for alternate spellings or to do “Starts With” or “Ends With” searches.  (? replaces just one character and * replaces one or more.)  Here are some examples:
    • Ed?ard = Edvard, Edward, Eduard
    • Ed*rd = Eduard, Edgard, Edelhard
    • Bar* =  Barbara, Barber, Barbra
    • *erson = Anderson, Iverson, Pederson, Peterson
    • Agri* = agribusiness, agriculture, agricultural, agriculturist, etc.
  • Abbreviations may give different results than full words (Ave vs. Avenue, St vs. Street vs. Saint).
  • Don't worry about punctuation; our search ignores it. 
  • Searches are not case sensitive. Minnesota and minnesota are treated the same.
  • AND, OR, and NOT are treated like regular search terms.

Photo-specific Hints: 

  • To search just photographs, click on the arrow next to "Narrow by Type" on the left side of the screen, then click on the plus (+) sign next to "Photographs."
    Arrow indicating selecting "Narrow by Type" option   Circle indicating how to select Photographs in the Narrow by Type filter menu
  • 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
    Narrow to items with a digital image checkbox
  • Looking for a building or place? Try searching for the name or specific address. If that isn't successful, try searching:
    • the street name (Kellogg)
    • names of intersecting streets (Kellogg Market)
    • name of a neighboring building like a church or business  


Sort Results
Notice that your results are sorted by "Closest Match" by default.  You can switch to two different chronological sorts (oldest first or newest first) to make browsing easier. 
Results sort options drop-down menu


Use Filters 
Use the filters on the left to specify the type of record, place, names, subject, collection, or year. 

  • Include (+) or exclude (-) something using filters
  • Multiple filters can be used to further narrow your results list.
  • Sticky filters: You can change your search term(s) but keep your filters using the small search box at the top of the left-hand column.  
    • To remove all filters, click "Remove all Filters"
      Arrow indicating "Remove all Filters" option
    • To stop using a specific filter on your results list, click the X next to it.
      Removing a Filter for Ramsey County
    • Use the Start New Search button at the top of the column to start a completely new search.
      "Start a New Search" button

MNHS Reference Staff

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Gale Family Library
Minnesota Historical Society Library

Located on the Second Floor of the Minnesota History Center
345 West Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102

Library Hours:
Thursday to Saturday: 10am to 4pm
Sunday to Wednesday: Closed

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Gale Family Library • Minnesota Historical Society • 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102-1906 • 651-259-3300
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