Donating to the
collections of the Delaware Historical
Q. What does the Historical Society of
The Historical Society of Delaware collects materials that document the
lives of Delawareans up to, and including, the present. The Society
collects many types of materials for its museum and library. The most
important criterion for donation is that the materials say something
about the state and its people.
Museum objects can take many forms,
such as work clothing, musical instruments, tools, local souvenirs,
paintings of places and people in Delaware, hand-made quilts, and
The library collects books,
pamphlets, serials, maps, manuscripts, newspapers, photographs,
manuscripts, and ephemera. In addition to Delaware-related materials,
the library also collects some materials from neighboring
Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey.
Q. How do I offer historic materials?
Please contact us and describe the materials you wish to donate. Tell us
anything you know about the history of the materials. For example, you
might explain who owned them and when or how they were used, or why they
were produced. Snapshots or photocopies of the materials are very
helpful. Please do not bring materials to HSD without an appointment.
For museum objects, call,
write, or e-mail Jennifer Potts, at
the Historical Society of Delaware, 505 Market Street, Wilmington, DE
19801, (302) 295-2389, (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For library materials, call, write,
or e-mail Constance Cooper, Director of Library and Archives at the
Historical Society of Delaware, 505 Market Street, Wilmington, DE
19801, (302) 295-2385,
Q. Are all donations accepted?
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 staff carefully
reviews each offer. Normally, library and museum materials need to be
seen before a decision can be made. One exception is printed materials
that can be easily checked against the catalog to see if they are
already in the collection.
Q. 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 in our exhibitions is
only a very small part of the collections. The rest are carefully stored
so that they will be available for future exhibits at the Delaware
History Museum, the George Read House, for loan to other museums, or for
research and reference for generations to come.
All library materials
are available to researchers. Most library materials are kept in closed
stacks to protect them. Some library materials are used in exhibitions.
Q. What should I do to
get my donation ready?
A. Please do nothing to the items. We prefer to
see them in their original condition. Do not clean, repaint, refinish,
or "spruce up" historical materials before giving them to us. Please
provide as much related historical information as possible. For example,
if you plan to offer your grandfather's report card, you might also
offer photographs of him as a student, samples of his school papers and
the cap he wore at school.
Q. Is my donation tax
Yes. The donor is responsible for determining and documenting the value
of a donation. Staff at HSD cannot appraise materials, nor can they
provide professional advice on the tax code. They can give you a list of
Q. Can I lend, rather than donate, my
historic materials? Or, can my heirs get things back if they are not
Materials are not accepted on long term loan, nor can agreements be made
to return materials to heirs. Occasionally, short term loans are
accepted for specific exhibits.
The Deed of Gift,
signed by every donor, gives the Historical Society clear ownership of
the materials. HSD accepts responsibility for preserving each donation
for generations to come.
Q. Can I bequeath materials in my will?
Yes. Please contact us and let us know of the planned bequest. We
appreciate having the opportunity to learn the story behind the
materials. We can also explain in further detail the appropriate
phrasing for your documents. Bequests must meet the same requirements as
other donations to the collections.
the Annual Fund