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Object Donation Frequently Asked Questions
The Connecticut Historical Society’s collection includes more than 4 million manuscripts, graphics, books, artifacts, and other historical material. As Connecticut’s state historical society, we will be a resource for cultivating understanding of the history and culture of Connecticut for generations to come. Our objects and documents are enormously important in helping to bring history to life.
As an institution that has been actively collecting for almost 200 years, the Connecticut Historical Society must be selective with any new material it accepts for the collection. We ask that you please read the donation frequently asked questions below, and then submit an Object Donation Form concerning any material that you wish to donate.
What does the Connecticut Historical Society collect?
We collect a wide variety of materials, including:
- 3D objects
- Costumes and textiles
What doesn’t the Connecticut Historical Society collect?
In most cases, we do not collect:
- Items without an association to Connecticut
- Unidentified photographs
- Photographs of the Flood of 1936, Hurricane of 1938, or Flood of 1955
- Musical instruments
- Objects purported to be made from the Charter Oak
- Wedding dresses
- Architectural fragments
How can I tell if the Connecticut Historical Society already owns an item?
With limited space and resources, our interest is in growing the collection only where gaps exist or in areas of particular interest. In general, we are not interested in adding items that duplicate those already in our collection. As such, you may wish to search the collection before submitting an Object Donation Form. For printed materials, personal papers, and family history materials, check the Library Catalog. For other items, including objects, photographs, costumes and textiles, and furniture check the Museum Catalog.
How do I donate artifacts or documents to the Connecticut Historical Society?
Due to the volume of offers the Connecticut Historical Society receives, it cannot accept donated materials unless you first submit a completed donation form online or send one by fax or regular mail. If you have artifacts or documents that you believe would add to the Connecticut Historical Society’s collection please use this donation form to transmit a description of your proposed donation.
If you are unable to complete the online form, please call the Connecticut Historical Society Welcome Desk at (860) 236-5621 and request that a copy of the donation form be mailed to you. Please try to include a photograph and measurements of the object or document with your form. You may mail back your completed form to the address below or send it via fax.
Connecticut Historical Society
One Elizabeth Street
Hartford, CT 06105
Fax: (860) 236-2664
Once the form is received, your proposed donation will be assigned to a curator who will evaluate it as a new addition to the collection and contact you within four weeks. You may also be contacted by volunteer curatorial assistants for additional information about your donation. If the curator chooses to accept your donation, the donated material will be recommended to the Collection Steering Committee for consideration at its monthly meeting. Following the meeting, a curator will contact you regarding next steps. If you have questions, concerns, or issues or you wish to check on the status of your proposed donation, please contact us.
Fill out our donation form online here.
Can I mail or drop off a donation?
The CHS cannot accept unsolicited donations through the mail or in person without your submission of an Object Donation Form and follow-up communication from the CHS staff.
How are potential donations reviewed?
Donation offers are reviewed first by the curatorial staff that makes recommendations to the CHS’s Collection Steering Committee. The committee is made up of staff knowledgeable in both the scope of the CHS’s collection as well as the conservation issues associated with artifact and document care.
The committee uses the criteria specified in the CHS collecting scope, as well as its current collecting goals, to guide its decisions. It also takes into consideration the condition of the object and the availability of the CHS resources required to store and care properly for the artifact or document as well as cataloging the material to make it accessible. The sensitive nature of materials or ownership of copyrights may also factor into acquisitions decisions.
How long does it take for the CHS to review proposed donations?
Typically, the process takes about three months. If a curator accepts your donation, it will be submitted to the Collection Steering Committee, which meets monthly, to review donations proposed during the previous month. However, regular reviews may be postponed when staff time is otherwise committed to the development of exhibitions or special programs. If your proposed donation is accepted by the Collections Committee, you will be contacted by the curator to arrange to have the donated materials shipped, picked up, or dropped off at the CHS. The final step is issuing a Deed of Gift for the donation, which legally transfers the property to the CHS.
Will the CHS appraise my donation for its monetary value?
The CHS does not provide appraisals of the monetary value of materials proposed for donation or for any other reason because the Internal Revenue Service regards museums and libraries as interested parties. Monetary appraisals prepared for donors by such institutions are subject to question or disqualification.
However, professional appraisers will perform this service for a fee. To find a licensed appraiser in your area, contact one of the following organizations for a referral.
American Society of Appraisers
International Society of Appraisers
Appraisers Association of America
Can I take a tax deduction for my donation?
The CHS is recognized as a qualified charitable organization, thus the fair market value of your donated materials is generally tax deductible. To take advantage of your deduction, you must file tax form 1040 and, depending on the value of your donation, tax form 8283.
To ensure that you receive the maximum tax benefit, it is recommended that you consult with your own accountant, attorney, and/or the Internal Revenue Service. You may also consult Internal Revenue Service Publication No. 526, Charitable Contributions, and Publication No. 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property.
Will the CHS exhibit the artifacts or documents in my donation?
The CHS cannot guarantee that any objects or documents donated to its collection will be exhibited unless expressly collected for that purpose. Only a small fraction of the collection is on view at any given time. Documents are typically made accessible for research purposes in the Waterman Research Center.
However, the CHS does allocate a significant portion of its annual budget to maintaining optimal conditions in its storage areas and galleries to ensure the long-term preservation of all collection materials.
Objects from the collection are occasionally loaned to other institutions for temporary exhibitions, and many artifacts and documents in the collection are made available for research purposes.
If I donate artifacts or documents to the CHS, will they be returned to me at my request?
The CHS cannot return accessioned collection materials to the donor. Once the Collection Steering Committee accepts your donation for the collection, you will be asked to sign a Deed of Gift, which legally transfers ownership of the materials to the CHS.
Can artifacts and documents be removed from the CHS collection?
The CHS may, with approval from the Board of Trustees, remove objects and documents from the collection through a process called deaccessioning. Artifacts or documents that are damaged beyond repair, have a condition that puts other parts of the collection at risk, are duplicative of other items in the collection, or are outside the scope of the collection may be considered for deaccessioning. Deaccessioned material may be donated to another museum or cultural or educational organization, destroyed, or sold. Any proceeds from the sale of deaccessioned material are placed in a restricted collection acquisition fund.
Does the CHS accept long-term loans?
The CHS does not accept long-term loans. While it does accept loan materials on a short-term basis in conjunction with exhibitions and other programs, the CHS prefers to commit its resources to the storage and preservation of materials in the collection.
How do researchers access artifacts and documents in the CHS’s collection?
The CHS makes most of the prints, photographs, archives, manuscripts, architectural drawings, published materials, paintings, sculpture, works-on-paper, costumes, textiles, and household and industrial objects in its collection available to the public for research through its Waterman Research Center. Viewing copies of films and listening copies of sound recordings are limited in number.
Tuesday-Friday 12pm-5pm, Thursday nights until 8pm
Research Center Hours:
Tuesday-Saturday 12pm-5pm, Thursday nights until 8pm
Always by appointment only.
One Elizabeth Street
Hartford CT, 06105