Reference Reproductions During Closure

Due to high demand and restricted staff access to collections during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Massachusetts Historical Society has implemented temporary reference reproduction policies and pricing. The services outlined below will be in effect during the period when staff have access to the collections but the MHS library remains closed to the public.

The goal of these temporary policies is to ensure a manageable workload for available staff, while striving to lower barriers to access for, and provide an equitable level of service to, our researchers. This temporary service model has been developed during rapidly-changing times and will be evaluated for its effectiveness in meeting these goals on a regular basis. The next date for any changes to the services outlined below will be 15 January 2021.

Please note that reference reproductions are processed in the order that they are received. Due to the inability of staff to process reproductions requests between March - June 2020, there remains a backlog of reproduction requests that the staff is working to address as efficiently as possible. We thank you for your patience as orders may take more time than usual to complete. 

If you have questions about any of these services, please contact the reproductions coordinator at reproductions@masshist.org.

Complimentary Reference Images

During the current temporary service phase (8 September 2020 - 15 January 2021), researchers will be provided with up to ten (10) reference reproductions free of charge. These images will be JPEG or PDF images of collections or reference materials, either scanned from microform or created with a handheld device. These images will be delivered by email or through Portal1791 depending upon the context of the request.

High-Volume Reference Reproductions

Any request for more than ten (10) reproductions will be considered "high volume" during this service period. High-volume reference reproductions will be processed using copystands and delivered as PDF files through the patron's Portal1791 account. In order to expedite processing of requests, by eliminating the selective imaging of materials, reproduction requests will be processed at the following unit levels:

  • Folder of material, manuscript or print ($25.00).
  • Bound volume, manuscript or print ($25.00).
  • Narrow box of manuscripts ($50.00).
  • Box of manuscripts / Reel of microfilm ($75.00).
  • Offsite carton ($225.00).
  • Individually-cataloged items, up to 25 individual items ($25.00).
  • Individually-indexed items in manuscript or photograph collections, up to 25 individual items ($25.00); limit of 50 items ($50.00) per service period.
    Note: While our reproductions services team is able to provide item-level access and scanning for manuscript and photograph materials that can be located using MHS-created indexes, in order to ensure that we have the capacity to meet our researchers’ needs equitably during the COVID-19 closure we are limiting such item-level requests to 50 items per service period (currently 8 September 2020 – 15 January 2021). If you are interested in additional materials indexed at the item level, you will have the choice of either requesting reproductions at the folder or box level or of waiting until the next service period to make new item-level scanning requests. 

Prepayment is required for any reproduction request of up to $50.00 before work on the order will begin.

Prepayment of at least 50% of the invoice is required for any reproduction request over $50.00 with the balance due before the reproductions are delivered. 

Temporary Cap on Orders

Individual researchers will be limited to $450.00 of reproduction services during the current service period (8 September 2020 – 15 January 2021). The restriction will be evaluated based on staff capacity, demand, and timeline for reopening the reading room for patron access and changes may be implemented after 15 January 2021.

Researchers who reach the limit during the current service period may request to be placed in a queue for additional reproductions during the subsequent service period.

Suspension of Rush Services

Due to the variables involved in staff access to, and quarantine of, collections and equipment, the Massachusetts Historical Society has suspended rush services for both high resolution (TIFF) and reference reproduction (PDF) services until further notice. All orders will be processed on a first come, first served basis.

How to Place High-Volume Reference Reproduction Requests via Portal1791

All high-volume reference reproduction requests must be placed through your Portal1791 account by submitting a Reproduction/Use Permission request. More information on Portal1791 can be found here.

Use ABIGAIL, the collection guides, or online resources to locate the item or collection from which you wish to purchase reproductions and follow the prompt buttons to Place Request. This will take you through to a Portal1791 page where you may place a reproduction request by selecting the button in the upper right hand corner of the webpage that reads Switch to Reproduction/Use Permission Request. The Reproduction/Use Permission form will automatically populate the collection information and you will be prompted to add additional information regarding the reproduction request.

The default format for reference reproductions is PDF files delivered electronically. However the MHS does offer limited photocopying services for researchers that cannot receive digital files. These formats can be selected through the reproduction request form. The form will also prompt you to indicate which particular portions of the collection you are requesting; please provide as much information as possible. Due to limited staff time we cannot canvas collections on researchers’ behalf. If you need assistance, please contact the reproductions coordinator.

Requests are reviewed by the reproductions coordinator to ensure the materials can be reproduced. Once a request is approved, generally within two weeks of receiving the request, the reproductions coordinator will provide an estimate of the time required to complete the request and a preliminary invoice for your approval within Portal1791.

The easiest way to submit payment is by credit/debit card or PayPal funds through your Portal1791 account. Once an invoice has been prepared for your approval, you will receive an email with instructions for accessing and reviewing the invoice within Portal1791. On the Invoices page you will be able to select one or more invoices and click on Pay Now to process your payment through PayPal.

After you have approved an invoice, you may submit payment at any point. Prepayment is required for any reproduction request of up to $50.00 before work on the order will begin. Prepayment of at least 50% of the invoice is required for any reproduction request over $50.00 with the balance due before the reproductions are delivered. 

If you prefer to submit an alternate form of payment, the MHS also accepts personal checks and money orders (USD only), and bank transfers. To pay by check or money order (USD only), print your invoice and return it with your payment. Make your check or money order payable to Massachusetts Historical Society, write the invoice transaction number(s) on your check, and mail to:

Reproductions Coordinator
Massachusetts Historical Society
1154 Boylston St.
Boston, MA 02215

If you have questions about payment options, please contact the reproductions coordinator or call the library at 617-646-0551.

Use of Reference Reproductions

Please note that all reference reproductions are for personal/study use only. They may not be donated or deposited in other libraries or archives, or made available to other researchers without the written permission of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

 Ownership of reproduced material does not imply permission to publish or quote from documents. It is the sole responsibility of the researcher to obtain formal written permission from the MHS or, when applicable, the appropriate copyright owner. 

 Researchers wishing to publish images or cite/quote material from MHS owned collections can find details on that process here.