High Resolution Images
The Society strives to provide high-resolution digital images of material in our collections for publication, motion picture or video reproduction, websites, exhibition, personal displays or other purposes. In most cases when reproducing manuscript items the MHS produces 600 dpi uncompressed TIFF files on CD. Small three-dimensional items (including books and items contained in manuscript volumes that cannot be placed on a flatbed scanner) are imaged using our digital camera. These images are generally RGB TIFF files with pixel dimensions of about 3900 x 2600 pixels. More detailed information about image outputs can be found here.
Once completed the TIFF files are sent by mail along with a letter detailing acceptable use of the images and all licenses granted. An invoice is sent under separate cover through our finance department.
Please note that fulfillment of standard orders can take up to six weeks from the time the order is confirmed. Orders placed during the summer months will take longer due to the high demand in the Society's reading room. Requests for more than six images and more difficult requests, including images of three-dimensional items that cannot be digitized on a flatbed scanner, will take longer and must be reviewed by the MHS staff before they will be considered as orders.
Cost for Obtaining Images
Standard reproduction fees are $45 per image for scans created from digital masters and $60 per image for scans that must be produced from the original item or an existing negative or transparency. In cases where an item cannot be imaged using standard equipment additional fees, up to $500, may apply.
While the MHS does not offer a standard “rush” option, the reproductions coordinator will review such requests on a case-by-case basis and, when staffing allows, expedite requests. Expedited requests filled within five business days of order confirmation will include a 150% surcharge on top of the standard reproduction fees.
The MHS typically sends all image materials on CD via USPS. If an express shipping service (FedEx, UPS, etc.) is requested, the requestor must pay all shipping fees. In cases where electronic delivery is requested, an additional $5 per image fee will be assessed.
The MHS does not waive reproduction fees or offer volume discounts for reproduction work, nor does it distinguish between for-profit and nonprofit publishers or producers.
Alternative Vendors for MHS Image Materials
Some of the most frequently requested items from the MHS collections are available for purchase through the Bridgeman Art Library. For a list of images available through Bridgeman, click here. When an item has been made available through Bridgeman, the MHS does not generally fill reproduction requests, though we will handle re-use requests licensing requests (see Permission and Licensing).
Images of over 50 maps owned by the MHS are available for purchase through Historic Map Works, a company that maintains a digital map database of North America and the world. For a list of MHS images available for purchase, as prints, through Historic Map Works click here.
All inquiries regarding images of items in the Society's collections must be made in writing and include a complete and detailed citation for each item requested.
The staff of the MHS is not able to undertake image research or to select items from the collection for reproduction. If a previous reproduction of the item already exists, a photocopy of the image and a complete citation of the earlier printing will help expedite fulfillment of the new order. Requests for images may be submitted via email, fax, or mail to:
Massachusetts Historical Society
1154 Boylston St
Boston, MA 02215
If you have any questions about MHS photographic reproduction services and procedures, before placing your order, please contact the reference librarian at (617) 646-0561or by email.