Research & Collections > How to Donate

Donating to Western Reserve Historical Society

Do you have items to offer? Here are some Frequently Asked Questions to help!

In order to maintain the integrity of the permanent collection, and to ensure the safety of the object until it has officially been accepted into the collections, the Western Reserve Historical Society has provided these FAQ’s and procedures for handling possible donations and/or purchases.

Q:  What is the collecting mission of the Western Reserve Historical Society?
A:  The Society exists to collect, preserve, interpret and exhibit the possessions and to collect and make available for scholarly research the documentation of the diverse peoples who have made the Western Reserve and northeastern Ohio their home.  In addition, the Society acts to preserve and interpret historic properties within the same region. 

Q:  What does the Historical Society collect?
A:  Historic materials can take many forms, including but not limited to books, personal documents business records, photographs, clothing and domestic textiles, tools, fine and decorative arts, furniture and domestic artifacts made or used in the Western Reserve.

Q:  How do I offer historic materials to the Historical Society?
A:  Since the Historical Society is so large and collects in so many different areas, certain curators or archivists can serve as contacts. Please write to the appropriate person at the Western Reserve Historical Society,

10825 East Boulevard,
Cleveland, Ohio 44106 

Or call (216) 721-5722. Please do not drop-off or send objects without first contacting the appropriate person.  We want to make sure that your potential gift is properly identified and cared for.

  • *For all manuscript and/or archival materials please contact Curator of Manuscripts, Margaret Burzynski-Bays at x1519 or
  • *For all furniture, decorative and fine arts including clothing and textiles, and domestic artifacts contact Curator, Dean Zimmerman at x1521 or
  • *For all transportation and industrial objects contact the Crawford Curator of Transportation Derek E. Moore at x151511 or 
  • *For all books and published materials contact Library/Archives Collections Manager, Paul Heyde at x1527 or
  • *For all other questions regarding donations and/or tax deductions contact Senior Registrar, Danielle Peck at x1517 or

Q:  What happens then?
A:  The Curatorial Council, which comprises all appropriate Directors and Curators meets to review all potential donations.  If accepted, the donor will be contacted and arrangements made for delivery of the objects and formal Deed of Gift paperwork issued which transfers legal title of the gift to the Historical Society.  If declined, the donor will be contacted and given the reasons for denial.  Limited storage space, duplication of objects, and condition of the offered piece as well as relevance to our mission affect the decision to accept an object.

Q:  Does the Historical Society accept all donations?
A:  We cannot accept everything.  Organizing, cataloging, and preserving historical materials for the future takes so much space, time and money, that donations must be selected very carefully.  The Historical Society staff review each offer.  Normally, objects and artwork need to be seen before a decision can be made.

Q:  Will my materials be put on display at the Historical Society or outlying properties?
A:  Unless we designate your materials for a specific exhibit, they will not be put on display immediately. What you see at the Historical Society and other sites is only a small part of the collections.  The rest are carefully stored so that they will be available for future exhibits, for loan to other museums, or for on-going research and reference.

Q: How can I see my materials if they are not on display?
A:  Documents, photographs and published materials are available for research and reference in the Library/Archives at the Historical Society during regular hours (Thursday through Saturday 9:00am to 5:00pm).  Requests to see History Museum artwork and objects should be made with the appropriate curator or Senior Registrar.  Please give at least two weeks notice, although staff availability may be a determining factor.

Q:  Is my donation tax deductible?
A:  Yes. The donor is responsible for determining and documenting the value of donation.  As a matter of ethics, staff at the Historical Society cannot appraise materials. A list of appraisers is available through the Appraisers Association of America or your local Yellow Pages.

Q:  Can I lend, rather than donate, my historic materials?
A:  The Historical Society does not accept materials on long-term loan, nor does it agree to return items to heirs.  Short term loans for specific exhibits are accepted.  The Deed of Gift, signed by every donor, gives the Historical Society clear, unrestricted ownership of the materials.

Q:  Can I leave materials to the Historical Society in my will?
A:  Yes. Please contact Amy Shorey, Vice President of Development, or (216) 721-5722 ext. 1401.

Please note that bequests must meet collections requirements.