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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 its numbering. Most will look like a typical photo collection number and item number.

Find the photo number on Digital Horizons by scrolling down the page and selecting the item number (circled).

Screenshot of Digital Horizons website with the Item Number circled

If you want to order an image that is not on Digital Horizons, you’ll need the photo number on our website. If the image itself is posted, this number will be found near or underneath it on our webpage or even on our Facebook posts. The photo numbers are also listed out under the photo collections, where you will see the summary of what is in the image (as in the picture below).

Once you have found this number, you can email us at archives@nd.gov (this is the preferred method), call us at 701.328.2668, or bring or mail the order form to State Archives at 612 E Boulevard Ave, Bismarck, ND 58505. You can send these orders to my attention.

We require prepayment for photo orders, so don't be surprised if you must make your payment before you get to see the image.  Once your order and payment are received, we prepare your images. Typically, they are completed within two to three weeks, but this time can vary, and it may be more or less time to complete a photo order.

Using images from the State Historical Society

While you may obtain photos from us, neither copyright nor ownership is transferred to you. These photos remain part of our collection, and copyrights remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs. So we do have rules governing use of our collections.

1. Most, but not all, of our images are available for purchasing copies and for use.
2. Images must be used respectfully. They cannot be altered or rearranged in any way (although you can use a detail of a photo and mark it as such).
3. Personal use allows images to be used privately, for personal means, or for research. No use fees or forms are required for this use beyond the original scan fee.

Screenshot of Photo Collections page on history.nd.gov showing the image numbers

4. Public use means an image is used in a public area and/or potentially for profit, such as display in an office, store, restaurant, or similar building; publication in a book; or use in a documentary. This use requires patrons to fill out our one-time use form. Fees for this use are listed on our website.
5. Online use is allowed in specific ways. Images that may be posted online should be used in low resolution. If an image is posted on Facebook or a blog post or on a personal site, it must be cited as from the State Historical Society of North Dakota plus its photo number. Use fees are variable, but typically use fees are waived for online use. We may require users to fill out our one-time use form.
6. All images must be cited as being from our agency and show the full photo number. (State Historical Society of North Dakota 00001-00001 is an example citation.) This is for public use, but it is helpful to retain this number for people interested in obtaining an image for private use as well.
7. We do not allow State Archives images to be reproduced on clothing, or reproduced and sold in any other way.

Just remember, if there are ever any questions on photo use, we are here to help! Feel free to contact us at any time.

How to Search for Photos in the North Dakota State Archives

A photo is worth a thousand words, as the old saying goes. Photos can also be invaluable—especially for a researcher searching for old images of family members or historic images of places and events.

We receive many requests for photographs. We have a lot to choose from—the estimate is that our collection holds around two million photos (including glass plate negatives, prints, jpgs, tiffs, and all kinds of other materials). Not all of our images are scanned, however, and not all can be viewed on our website at this time. So how can you find an image you are searching for?

Right now, you can search in a multitude of ways. While it takes a bit of looking and a little extra work, it’s not nearly as difficult as it seems. And some of it can be done from home!

1. Digital Horizons. Digital Horizons is the easiest place to start for photo searches.

Screenshot of the Digital Horizons website homepage

This website is a conglomeration of select images from our collections, as well as other organizations around the state, such as the Institute for Regional Studies at NDSU, the Bismarck Public Library, the North Dakota State Library, and local county historical societies. Now, I did say “select.” Not all images from every institution in the state are available here. However, it’s a great place to begin any search. You can type in a keyword search in the search bar (see Advanced Search) and can even focus on specific collections. Images are here in low resolution, but you can see them, any information we may have on them, and also can find what institution they are from, as well as the photo number.

Digital Horizons page showing image information

Scrolling down on this page will show necessary information as to where this image came from. To order this image, you will need the Item Number and will want to request it from the correct repository institution.

2. Photo indexes listed on our website. If you just want to know what sort of images might be available, this is a good place to start as well. You will likely not find the actual photo to look at, but most of our images are indexed and described somewhere on our website. While photo collections can exist in manuscripts and state series, and are not listed within this site, the bulk of our photos can be found in their own collections. View this at history.nd.gov/archives/photocollections.

Archives photo collections page on history.nd.gov

3. Keyword searches on our website. As I noted, not all of our photos are found in photo collections. Some are listed under the finding aids of other collections. So it is indeed worth doing a keyword search throughout our website. The best ways to do this are twofold.

  1. In conjunction with searching a specific page (“control-f” on your keyboard will typically pop up the search box, and then highlight whatever string of words you are interested in).

    List of photos in archives collection
     
  2. Do a keyword search across the website. You can type in keyword searches and do an in-site google search for topics. Go to history.nd.gov/archives and you will see two search bars. While you can use both, to search just the Archives collections, you will want to use the one on the lower right side for your search.

    Showing the Archives search box on history.nd.gov

4. Search at the Archives. We do have a few other sources in the Archives that you can search. We have some paper files and some scanned jpgs that may not be available on Digital Horizons, but can only be viewed on a computer in our State Archives Reading Room. We also can help you with use our new database, Re:discovery, which allows staff to search for inter-agency topics. Eventually, Re:discovery will be accessible to the public as a search tool and will change how photos can be searched.

For now, these are your best options.

However, even when you are searching with these methods, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. Be succinct, and try a few key words. Being too specific (E.g., “President Theodore Roosevelt visiting North Dakota in 1902”) with your query in any of these searches will limit your results. Too general (E.g., “north dakota”) will bring in too many results. Find a happy medium. (E.g., search “Roosevelt,” “Teddy,” “President visit,” and “Roosevelt visit”).
  2. You can’t always see everything right away. Typically if an image is not yet scanned, I can send a small number of low-res thumbnails to individuals seeking photos, so they can see them before they order. Please remember to allow extra days for this service, as this does take time!
  3. Keep the photo number on hand for ordering. The photo number is how we identify and communicate about photos. It is listed on our website, on Digital Horizons, and on the photo itself. We need this information for research and orders.

I hope this helps you find the photos of your dreams! Look for my next post to see how you can use this information to order photograph scans. You will learn how these images can be used, what we expect, what we do and don’t allow, and how to place an order.