Wisconsin Historical Society

General Information

FAQs About Buying Historical Images

FAQs About Buying Historical Images | Wisconsin Historical Society

Below are answers to questions frequently asked about ordering images from the Wisconsin Historical Society. If you have other questions, please contact Lisa Marine, WHI Business Manager, at 608-264-6475 or lisa.marine@wisconsinhistory.org.

What is the difference between “personal use” and “commercial or non-profit use”?

The Wisconsin Historical Society defines "personal use" as displaying a print of a historical image from our collections in a private residence. For example, if you plan to buy a print of one of our historical images and hang it in your home, that is personal use. Another example is buying a print of a historical image and giving it as a gift to someone to display in his or her home.

The Society defines "commercial or non-profit use" as any use of historical images from our collections outside the home for commercial or non-profit purposes. This includes purchasing a historical image and displaying it in any public venue, such as in a museum, a restaurant, a hotel or a bar.

Commercial/non-profit use also includes use of historical images in enterprises such as websites, books, advertising, films and use in a public presentation.

If you aren’t sure whether your intended use is personal or commercial/non-profit, please contact Lisa Marine, WHI Business Manager and she can help clarify: 608-264-6475 or lisa.marine@wisconsinhistory.org.

How do I buy an image for personal use?

  1. To purchase an image for your home or as a gift, begin by searching our visual materials.
  2. Click the "Buy" button for personal use beneath the image.
  3. Follow the checkout process and pay online using Visa or MasterCard.

Note: Digital files are not provided for personal use or resale.

If you want to pay by check or money order, please mail a completed Image Order Form (PDF, 361 KB) with your check to:

Wisconsin Historical Society
Attn: Lisa Marine, WHI Business Manager
816 State Street, Room 407 Madison, WI 53706-1482

Related Information

How do I buy an image for commercial or non-profit use?

Commercial or non-profit use includes public display, publication, advertising, films, videos, websites and any use other than displaying a print in a private residence, or giving a print as a gift for display in a private residence.

To purchase a print and/or a digital file for commercial/non-profit use, search for an image and then click the Buy button "For Commercial or Non-Profit Use" beneath the image. If you have questions please contact Lisa Marine, WHI Business Manager: 608-264-6475 or lisa.marine@wisconsinhistory.org.

Note: Some images may have copyright restrictions.

Related Information

Can I purchase digital files for the purpose of making my own prints?

No, you must order prints of all images from the digital lab at the Wisconsin Historical Society. Please see our Terms of Agreement for more information.

How much do images cost?

How do I place a tax-exempt order online?

If you are with a tax exempt organization in Wisconsin, please contact us so we can set up a tax-exempt account in our Online Store which you can use to make tax exempt purchases: Lisa Marine, WHI Business Manager: 608-264-6475 or lisa.marine@wisconsinhistory.org. Tax is not charged for any order from outside Wisconsin.

If I purchase a digital file for commercial or non-profit use, how is it delivered?

Links to digital files of images for commercial/non-profit use will be emailed to you. Please make sure we have the correct email address for you.

What are the shipping and handling fees?

Our shipping and handling charges are based on the total cost of the order:

  • Order total up to $30.00 = $7.95 shipping and handling charge
  • Order total from $30.01 - $50.00 = $9.95 shipping and handling charge
  • Order total from $50.01 - $100.00 = $14.95 shipping and handling charge
  • Order total from $100.01 - $250.00 = $18.95 shipping and handling charge
  • Order total from $250.01 and up = $24.95 shipping and handling charge
  • HI, AK, Canada: add additional $5.00
  • Other International: add $25.00

Notes: Prints 11x14 or larger are shipped in reinforced tubes. Prints smaller than 11x14 are shipped in envelopes with cardboard.

How long will it take to receive my order?

  • Prints: shipped within five business days (U.S. Postal Service).
  • Digital files: sent within two business days.
  • Images not available online: shipped within two weeks.
  • Rush delivery available for an additional fee. Contact us for information: lisa.marine@wisconsinhistory.org or 608-264-6475.
  • Orders for a large number of images or for canvas prints may require a longer turnaround time.

What are your standards for image quality?

Most images are scanned on a flatbed scanner at 400 pixels per inch (ppi) at 8x10 inches. Larger items are usually scanned at 300 ppi. All images are color-corrected to closely match the original. Prints are made on archival quality paper with pigment-based inks.

Who owns the copyright on these images?

The Wisconsin Historical Society does not own the copyright to most images in our collections, but grants permission as the owner of the photographs and documents. It is your responsibility to obtain consent from the copyright owner for use of any image with a copyright restriction. See more about permissions and copyright.

Do you offer digitally retouched images?

Yes, in many cases we can digitally retouch images to fix damaged areas or adjust for other problems. Contact us by email at lisa.marine@wisconsinhistory.org or by telephone at 608-264-6475 to discuss options. Image retouching will incur additional charges. See more information about fees for retouching in our Image Price List (PDF, 68 KB).

Can I order an image if it's not online?

Yes, download the Order Form for Historical Images (PDF, 164 KB) and email us the completed form at: lisa.marine@wisconsinhistory.org. Note, please be sure to include: image ID number, negative number or collection number.

If you do not have the image number, please contact us at lisa.marine@wisconsinhistory.org.

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Have Questions?

Contact Lisa Marine, WHI Business Manager, by phone at 608-264-6475 or by email below:

You can also communicate by mail or fax:

Wisconsin Historical Society
Attn: Lisa Marine, WHI Business Manager
816 State Street, Room 407
Madison, WI 53706-1482
Fax: 608-264-6472