How do I obtain copies of photographs in the American Folklife Center collections?

The process for obtaining copies of photographs is typically a two-step process.

First, the intellectual property rights associated with the photographs must be determined.

  • It is important to note that, although American Folklife Center (AFC) staff members and contracted fieldworkers often take photographs while conducting fieldwork and during events, these staff members do not have rights over the photographs taken. 
    • In the event that a photograph includes a person or persons, those persons may have privacy rights that need to be checked.
  • In addition, the AFC's collections also include photographs taken by professional photographers who have rights over the photographs they have taken. These professional photographers must be contacted before copies can be made or used. 
  • In some cases, the donor of a collection may have established requirements for obtaining any copies of photographs.

In order to facilitate your search for these rights, the AFC staff will investigate the collection documentation (including deeds of gift) and get back to you with our findings. We will advise you as to whether permissions need to be sought. When we have specific contact information for the rights holders, we will provide that; if we do not have such information, we will provide alternative search strategies for you to use in order to make good-faith attempts to secure permission.

Second, once permissions issues, if any, have been resolved, we can then proceed to the photoduplication process itself. This process depends on your requirements. To better understand your requirements, please consider questions, such as:

  • Do you need a digital scan? 
  • If so, what resolution is needed? 
  • Or do you need a print, or another format? 
  • Do you need one or two images, or a great many?  

In cases where the AFC already has the necessary in-house equipment and available staff, the photocopies may be made in-house. If other instances, we will need to refer you to the Library's Duplication Services.

You can find more about Duplication Services here. Specifics on available products and pricing are found via a link in the left column of the Duplication Services Page. 

We will work with you through the process, so please contact us by using Ask-A-Librarian or direct email.


Last Updated: Sep 29, 2020
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American Folklife Center
101 Independence Ave SE
Washington, DC  20540-4610