Rights & Reproductions

The Boston Athenaeum will NOT be able to fulfill any rights and reproductions requests requiring new photography until further notice.


The Boston Athenæum requires that all requests for the use of images of materials in its collections be made in writing through our ONLINE REQUEST FORM.


When a request is approved, a Permission Form will be sent to you for your signature, along with an invoice for approved fees. Both the signed Permission Form and payment of the invoice must be received before images are released or reproduction rights granted. Payment may be made by check or money order, in U.S. dollars, drawn on a U.S. bank; by credit card, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express; or by wire transfer.



Fees are charged for the purchase of digital scans. Additional fees are charged to reproduce an image. These fees are based on the nature of the use. A quote will be made to you upon receipt of a completed request form. Additional charges for new photography and rush orders may apply to some orders.


Requesting Images and Reproduction Rights

Everyone must first register to make requests: Boston Athenæum Special Collections Registration

Requests can be made directly from either:


Athena, the online catalog, lists what the Athenæum owns: its holdings of circulating books, journals, and newspapers as well as special collections like rare books, manuscripts, tracts, photographs, etc.


This searchable image repository offers over 13,000 partial and fully digitized items from the Boston Athenæum’s collections of rare books, prints, photographs, maps, archives, etc. It is a dynamic database with new materials added frequently.

If you wish to request an item from among the Athenæum’s Paintings & Sculpture Online, submit a manual request via “New Request” in the online system.

If you need help making a manual request or cannot find an item in any of the catalogs, please consult a reference librarian: https://www.bostonathenaeum.org/form/reference-question

Requests are considered on a case-by-case basis and permission to reproduce is given at the discretion of the Boston Athenæum. If you have questions about this process, email digitalprograms@bostonathenaeum.org.


The Boston Athenæum makes digital copies of works available in accordance with 17 U.S. Code § 107. Limitations on Exclusive Rights: Fair Use, which authorizes the use of works protected by copyright without permission for “purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, … scholarship or research.” Usage, transmission, downloading, or reproduction of protected items beyond that allowed by Fair Use Copyright Law requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Determining the existence of copyright or any other legal restrictions, as well as obtaining permission from the copyright holder, is solely the responsibility of the user. The Boston Athenæum cannot make such determinations for the user. The Boston Athenæum also reserves the right to deny permission to reproduce images of any works in our collections based on copyright considerations and other factors.

Copyright Holders

The Boston Athenaeum respects the intellectual property rights of others. If you are a copyright holder and are concerned that you have found material made available on the Boston Athenæum’s Digital Collections website without your permission, and believe our inclusion of this material violates your rights, please contact digitalprograms@bostonathenaeum.org and include the following:

  • Your contact information (including email address and phone),
  • URL where you found the material,
  • Details that describe the material (title, creator’s name, number of items, etc.),
  • The reason why you believe that your rights have been violated, with any pertinent documentation.

Upon receipt of a request, Boston Athenæum staff will acknowledge the request via email or other means of communication if you do not have an email account. Thereafter, the validity of your concerns will be assessed. Upon request, we may temporarily remove the material from public view while we address the concern. Upon completion of the assessment, we will take appropriate action and communicate that action to you.

The Boston Athenaeum’s copyright policies on digital surrogates are informed by the Association of Research Libraries’ Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries and similar polices formed by the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), University of Wisconsin—Madison, Chicago Public Library, and the University of California—San Diego.