Donating Materials


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Donation Procedures

Below are basic guidelines for donation to WRHS:

Reach out to WRHS archivists or curators to discuss materials for potential donation

For Museum Objects and Artifacts

  • Brief Description of object(s) )including number of items
  • History of object(s) and/or any information on object provenance(origins)
  • Pictures of all proposed items
  • Object(s) Condition

For Archival of Library materials be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Brief background/history/biographical information for items to be donated
  • Amount of material to be considered for donation (Example: 3 boxes)
  • Include amount of digital material as well if any included:[Example: 1GB]

Types of Formats:

  • Example: Papers, photographs, digital files, VHS tapes, cassettes,

Types of Records:

  • Examples: Board Minutes, Marketing materials, Event photographs, Newsletters, family histories, letters/correspondence

Dates Covered:

  • Example: 1980s and 1995-2010

WRHS staff will use the above information to create a potential donation report which will then be submitted to the WRHS Collections Management Team(CMT) for review

Once the CMT reaches a decision, WRHS staff will reach back out to the potential donor to inform them about the decision.

If the donation is approved, WRHS staff will coordinate a drop off day, location, and time.

At the time of drop off, WRHS will issue a temporary receipt so that the donor has a written record of making a donation.

WRHS staff will make arrangements to send the donor the Deed of Gift which will officially transfer ownership to WRHS.

Unscheduled drop off or mailing of prospective donations will not be permitted and WRHS cannot take responsibility or ownership of materials that are dropped off or sent without prior notification. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the collecting mission of the Western Reserve Historical Society?

WRHS 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, we act to preserve and interpret historic properties within the same region.

What does the Historical Society collect?

Our collecting interests are varied but all objects we seek to collect share the characteristic of documenting the Western Reserve. Please review our Collecting Policy for further information

WRHS Collection Policy

How do I offer historic materials to WRHS?

Since WRHS is so large and collects in so many different areas, certain curators or archivists can serve as contacts. 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 Acting Library Director and Reference Supervisor, Ann Sindelar
  • For all books and published materials contact Acting Library Director and Reference Supervisor, Ann Sindelar
  • For all furniture, decorative and fine arts including clothing and textiles, and domestic artifacts contact Curator of Collections & Exhibits, Eric Rivet at x1521 or
  • For all transportation and industrial objects contact the Director Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum, Bradley Brownell at x1510 or

What happens then?

The Collections Management Team, which comprises all appropriate WRHS Leadership 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 WRHS. 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 collecting policy and mission affect the decision to accept an object.

Does WRHS accept all donations?

We cannot accept everything. Organizing, cataloging, and preserving historical materials for the future takes significant space, time and money, so donations must be selected very carefully. The staff carefully consider each offer. Normally, potential donations need to be seen and reviewed before a decision can be made.

Will my materials be put on display?

Unless we designate your materials for a specific exhibit, they will not be put on display immediately. What you see at our museums 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.

How can I see my materials if they are not on display?

Documents, photographs and published materials are available for research and reference in the Library/Archives during regular hours. Requests to see artwork and objects should be made with the appropriate WRHS staff. Please give at least two weeks notice, although staff availability may be a determining factor.

Is my donation tax deductible?

Yes. The donor is responsible for determining and documenting the value of donation. As a matter of ethics, WRHS staff cannot appraise materials. A list of appraisers is available through the Appraisers Association of America.

Can I lend, rather than donate, my historic materials?

WRHS does not accept materials on long-term loan, nor does it agree to return items to heirs. Short term loans for specific exhibits, events, or programming may be accepted. The Deed of Gift, signed by every donor, gives WRHS clear, unrestricted ownership of the materials.

Can I leave materials to the Western Reserve Historical Society in my will?

Yes. Please contact Glenn Anderson, Jr., Senior Vice President of Advancement, (216) 721-5722 ext. 1401. Please note that bequests must meet collections requirements.

Resources & Policies

WRHS Collection Policy

Updated Wednesday, November 01, 2023

download (441KB)

WRHS Gift Acceptance Policy

Updated Wednesday, November 01, 2023

download (1.72MB)

Collection Recommendations: Individuals and Families

Updated Wednesday, November 01, 2023

download (489KB)

Collecting Recommendations: Organizations and Institutions

Updated Wednesday, November 01, 2023

download (512KB)

Western Reserve Historical Society is the oldest cultural institution in Northeast Ohio, the region's largest American history research center, and one of the leading genealogical research centers in the nation.

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Cleveland History Center
10825 East Boulevard
Cleveland, Ohio 44106 ↗

(216) 721-5722

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