Copyright and Citation Guide

Permission to Publish

The National Agricultural Library (NAL) owns the physical objects in its collections, but it does not own the copyrights to these materials (except in rare cases where rights have been explicitly transferred to NAL by a copyright owner).

Because the Library does not own the rights, we cannot give or deny permission to reproduce or re-publish the materials in our collections. Permission can only be granted by the copyright holders, their heirs, or assignees.

Works created by United States government employees, including employees of USDA, in the course of their jobs are in the public domain and may be copied without permission.

You are responsible for determining the copyright status of a work you wish to reproduce. You must also make sure your use of the work complies with U.S. copyright law.

The nature of archival materials sometimes makes it difficult, or even impossible, to determine their copyright status. Special Collections staff will share any information we may have that might help identify the owner of a copyright.

Citing Materials from Special Collections

Citations are important for many reasons. They give credit to the originators of works that you used in your research. They lend credibility to your writing or presentation. They also help your readers or viewers find the sources that you used—this is particularly helpful when the sources come from unique archival collections that are only available at one institution.

When you use images or refer to documents from Special Collections, we ask that you include the following credit line: Special Collections, USDA National Agricultural Library. Credit lines may appear in any of these places:

  • Small print parallel to the lower edge or the vertical edges of an illustration

  • The preface, acknowledgements, or copyright page of a publication

  • Reference citations

  • A list of illustrations

When writing citations for Special Collections materials, please be sure to include the name of the specific collection that contains the materials cited; for example, USDA History Collection or Charles Edwin Kellogg Papers.

If you need to verify a collection name, or if you have any questions about writing citations for Special Collections materials, please contact us.

Citation Examples

Everything for the Garden. New York: Peter Henderson and Co., 1917. Henry G. Gilbert Nursery and Seed Trade Catalog Collection. Special Collections, National Agricultural Library.

Farm Security Administration Labor Camps in Arizona. Map, undated. Documentary Files 1914-1939, USDA History Collection. Special Collections, National Agricultural Library.

Heiges, Bertha. “Collins” Apple. Watercolor, 1898. USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection. Special Collections, National Agricultural Library.

Sapp, Roy. U.S. Department of Agriculture, 12th and 14th Streets, Independence Avenue and C Street as Taken from Top of Washington Monument. Photograph, circa 1950. USDA History Collection. Special Collections, National Agricultural Library.

Smith, E. D. “Anemone stellata.” In The British Flower Garden, vol. II, by Robert Sweet, color plate 112. London: Simpkin and Marshall, 1825-1827. Rare Book Collection. Special Collections, National Agricultural Library.

Hint: Scientific names (genus, species, and subspecies) of plants and animals are usually set in italics. The genus name is capitalized and the species name is in lower case. Plant variety names are placed in quotation marks, e.g., “Red Delicious” apple.