Scans & Permissions Requests

The Boston Athenaeum will NOT be able to fulfill any scans and permissions requests that require new photography until further notice.

The Boston Athenaeum requires that all requests for the use of images of materials in its collections be made in writing through our Scans and Permissions Request Form.

When a request is approved, you will need to complete and sign the provided permission form and submit payment. These must be received before images are released or reproduction rights granted.

Requesting Images and Reproduction Rights

To make a request, you must first register with our Special Collections system.

Requests can be made directly in the Online Catalog or our Digital Collections repository.  For an item from our Paintings & Sculpture Online, use the “New Request” option in the online system. For help consult a reference librarian.

Requests are considered on a case-by-case basis and permission to reproduce is given at the discretion of the Boston Athenaeum. If you have questions, reach out to

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.


The Boston Athenaeum 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 Athenaeum cannot make such determinations for the user. The Boston Athenaeum 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 Athenaeum’s Digital Collections website without your permission, and believe our inclusion of this material violates your rights, please contact 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 Athenaeum 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.