The Minnesota Historical Society preserves and makes available a wide range of materials chronicling Minnesota’s history and culture. The goals of the collections department are to collect and preserve; provide access and interpretation; and engage in education and outreach.
If you are interested in donating item(s) to the collections, please visit donate to MNHS collections for more information.
The Minnesota Historical Society is the home of many culturally significant and culturally sensitive items. Some material may contain terms that reflect the creators’ views, or those of the period in which the materials were created, written, or recorded, but that may not be considered appropriate today. These views are not necessarily the views of MNHS. While the information may not reflect current understanding, it is provided in an historical context. For more information, please see our NAGPRA and culturally sensitive objects policy (PDF).
MNHS asks for your help to locate and recover Minnesota’s missing heritage!
In making collections available online, the Minnesota Historical Society acts in good faith, gives credit to rights holders when possible, and respectfully provides access to culturally valuable materials.
If you wish to contest the online inclusion of MNHS collections material due to any of the following reasons, please complete a take-down request form:
Complete the take-down request form.
Upon receipt of your request, MNHS staff will:
Upon completion of the assessment, staff will take appropriate action and notify you of the outcome. Potential actions may include:
If you have additional questions regarding the take-down procedure, please contact our reference staff.
Q: Why are some of the collections restricted?
Some manuscript collections (personal, organizational, or business papers) are restricted for a period of time as part of the contract with the donor.
Some state archives records are restricted to protect individual privacy. For some institutional records, such as state hospitals and correctional facilities, the time period may be specified in years from the date of last entry, and may depend on whether the subject of the records is still alive. Records involving adoptions have the strictest requirements; case files and institutional records documenting adoptions are sealed for 100 years.
Catalog records and finding aids often outline the nature of the restrictions.
Q. How can I view restricted manuscript collections?
To view materials in a restricted collection of personal, organizational, or business papers, apply for access to the collection using the general application for permission to use restricted collections form (PDF). Library staff will send your application to the donor or donor’s designee for approval. You will be notified about whether your request was approved. The process may take a few days to several weeks.
Q. How can I view restricted state archives collections?
Use the access to restricted records for individuals form (PDF) to apply for access to restricted state archives records. You should also submit the appropriate supporting documentation, as listed on the form. This documentation may include:
Applications may be submitted by email attachment or regular mail. Once we receive your application, it will be reviewed by our permissions staff and you will be informed — usually via email — if your application is granted or denied. Many of these requests, with supporting documentation, can be reviewed and responded to by staff within two days.
Due to the strict requirements surrounding adoption records, to access to adoption records that are less than 100 years old you must obtain a court order from the court where the adoption occurred, and submit a copy of the court order with your application form and other documentation. For more information on adoption research, please see the record restriction & access page of our adoption research guide.
Q: Can I order copies of restricted state archives records or do I have to view them in person?
You can order copies of restricted records — such as state hospital and state correctional institution records — through our research services page, but you may need to submit additional permission paperwork before we can complete your order. Generally speaking, these types of records contain private information and are restricted for 75 years from the date of the last entry in the file or record. If you know or suspect that the records you are requesting will be restricted under this guideline, you should apply for access to the restricted records. Please note: some state archive records’ restrictions — notably those related to adoptions — are more strict.
To apply, submit the access to restricted records for individuals form (PDF) and the appropriate supporting documentation listed on the form (see question above). You can submit your application for permission before you place an order, or at the same time. If you do place an online order at the same time, write your order number on the top of the permission form; this number will be shown on-screen when your order is completed and it will also be included in your confirmation email. If you do not submit a permission application but one is required, our staff will contact you and your order will be put on hold until all the appropriate paperwork is completed.
If you have any questions about ordering restricted materials, please contact our reference staff.
All of the above materials may be retrieved upon request.