Photographs: Use Permissions & Licensing

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

What is a Use Agreement and why do I need one?

Governor Wendell Anderson signing proclamation with onlookers, ca. 1976Images 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.

A Use Agreement verifies that you have requested and received permission from the Minnesota Historical Society to use an image in a commercial or other public manner.  It entitles you to use the image in the way you indicated and within the terms specified in the Conditions of Use.

What are Conditions of Use?

When you order an image from the Minnesota Historical Society, you agree to follow our standard Conditions of Use.  These conditions include things like:

  • Properly crediting an image
  • Actions that require a separate permission letter (for example: Cropping an image is fine, but colorizing requires additional permission.)  
  • In some cases, users will be asked to donate a copy of the finished product to the Society's collections

Are there fees to use images?

Money order receipt, 1901It 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 non-profits, governmental entities, and Minnesota media/publishers.   We do charge use fees for commercial uses, however.  See our Types of Users and Types of Uses/Prices pages for more information. 

Can I ever use images without specifically getting permission?

If the low-resolution version of an image already available through Collections Online will work for your project, you may use it without any costs or formal paperwork was long as it has a gold "Add to Order" button on the display (see image below). 

However, you must still follow our conditions of use, including crediting the Minnesota Historical Society and the creator (if known).  We also request that, if possible, you link back to the image in Collections Online.  


What do I do if I might want to use an image later?

You can order an image now and specify that it is for research (personal) use.  If you decide later that you want to use the image in a public way, you can request permission separately. For more information, see "Requesting Permissions: When You Already Have the Image."

MNHS Reference Staff

reading room bookshelves


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

More Information on Visiting the Library


Contact Us:


Email Us

Visit our Main Website

Related Research Guides & Webpages

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