Backstage Pass to North Dakota History

This blog takes you behind the scenes of the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Get a glimpse at a day-in-the-life of the staff, volunteers, and partners who make it all possible. Discover what it takes to preserve North Dakota's natural and cultural history. We encourage dialogue, questions, and comments!

Photos Part 2: Ordering and Using Photos from the Archives

Last week, I published a post on how to conduct photo orders in the State Archives (if you missed it, find it again here). I promised I would follow up with a second post on how to use this information to place a photo order, how these images can be used, what we do and do not allow, and more.

So, here we go again!

As you learned in my previous post, quite a few photos can be viewed and accessed on our website. We are happy that these items can be used and viewed in this way, as it does help people researching images. But, how do you actually get the image? And what are you able to do with it once you have it?

Ordering Images

Images provided by us are part of our collections, and if we need to provide a copy, we do charge a fee.

At this time, you may order one of four types of images.

Old picture of four ladies in dresses and hats

1. A watermarked thumbnail for reference, which is typically scanned at the lowest resolution with the agency name stamped across it. This is for reference to show you what is in an image that heretofore has not been scanned or posted on Digital Horizons. We do not charge for this service. (The watermarked image shown here is SHSND 10468-00357).
2. A paper print, which is typically black and white ink on white paper. For a paper printout, the clarity of the image is pretty good, but this is printed on regular printer paper, and again is just intended for research purposes. The fee is $1 per image.

Picture of President George H.W. Bush and another man holding papers

3. A low resolution scan of the print or negative, such as the image shown here of President George H.W. Bush in Bismarck during the Centennial Celebration in 1989, SHSND 31843-016-00002. (The images used in our blog posts are all low resolution.) This is typically provided in a jpg format and is sized around 200 dpi or less. This indicates that you may see less specific detail, and enlarging the image makes it more pixelated. This image can probably still be sent to you in your email as an attachment without filling your inbox—kind of similar to most normal or lower resolution photos you might take on a smart phone. The fee is $8. If it suits your needs, you can download images from Digital Horizons. They are about the size of a typical low res scan, and we do not charge you for this service.

Photo of Brave Buffalo wearing headdress and vest.

4. A high resolution scan of the print or negative. This image is probably too large to send to you as an attachment, and will likely need to be sent to you via our share site or on a disc. These comprise the majority of the photo orders we fill. They are typically sized around 600 dpi. These images are crisper, clearer, can be enlarged easier, and are considered suitable to print. Though we are capable of scanning items at a higher setting, this is typically the standard. (You can see this in this detail from photo SHSND 1952-05018, a photo by Frank Fiske of Brave Buffalo. The details of his face are still very clear and crisp. A high resolution scan fee is $20 per image.

If you want to order an image, come to the Archives in person or email or call us with the photo information. We may ask you to fill out our order form, available here on our website. Often, an email with the photo number is plenty.

The photo number consists of a collection number and item number (although letters are occasionally part of the name). They sometimes are longer and shorter, depending on what they are a part of. However, they typically look like one of these examples:

1952-00001 → 1952 is the collection, and this is the first item in that collection.

2005-P-001-00001 → 2005-P-001 is the collection, and this refers to the first item in that collection.

A0002-00001 → A is the collection; there are a series of linked images in this collection so while there may be several item numbers under this second item in the A collection, this is the first image.

10958-31B-25-00001 → This is the first photo in folder 25 of Box 31B from manuscript collection 10958 (William Shemorry). Not all manuscript numbers are as long as this one, which does differ slightly in