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Collections

Many of the Center for American History's extensive collections of books, manuscript and archival collections, sound recordings, artifacts, maps, photographs, and newspapers have been donated by generous individuals, families, or organizations who wished to help preserve and make publicly accessible the written, printed, oral, and visual history of their state, region, and nation.

The Center welcomes having the opportunity of acquiring additional appropriate historical materials to help build its collections. We invite prospective donors, both individuals and organizations, to telephone the Center's Research and Collections Division at 512/495-4515 to discuss our policies and procedures for donation. For more information, see the Society of American Archivists' "Guide to Donating Your Personal or Family Papers to a Repository" or continue reading for additional information with respect to the donating collections to the Center.

Types of Materials to Consider Donating

Donors often ask us what kinds of historical materials we wish to acquire. Examples of appropriate types are listed below. Please remember that the Center accepts only items that fall within its collecting scope. If you are in doubt about the suitability of your papers for donation, please telephone us—your "trash" may be our treasure!

Personal Papers:

  • Family letters
  • Diaries or journals
  • Passports, birth certificates, marriage records
  • Scrapbook materials, such as report cards, graduation certificates, programs, invitations, other documentary mementos, obituaries, newspaper clippings
  • Recorded or written oral history interviews or memoirs
  • Legal records, such as wills, estate materials, deeds, court records, contracts
  • Photographs and photo albums

Business Records:

  • Correspondence
  • Ledgers or record books
  • Classified files
  • Financial records, such as receipts or invoices and inventories
  • Legal records, such as contracts, deeds, court records
  • Ephemera, such as flyers, calendars, schedules, posters, menus, business cards
  • Photographs or photo albums

Printed Materials:

  • Newspapers
  • Books
  • Pamphlets
  • Posters
  • Broadsides
  • Maps

Literary Productions/Writings:

  • Essays, poetry and fiction
  • Reminiscences or memoirs
  • Oral history interviews on cassette tape or narratives
  • Speeches

Organizational Records:

  • Charters, membership lists, minutes, yearbooks, programs, press releases
  • Correspondence
  • Newsletters or newspapers, brochures

Religious Materials:

  • Church, mosque, or synagogue records; programs, brochures, bulletins, record books
  • Prayer books, hymnbooks
  • Photographs or photo albums

Sound materials:

  • Music on disc, cassette tape, or as sheet music
  • Oral history interviews

Artistic materials:

  • Posters
  • Drawings
  • Photographs

Donating Collections: The Deed of Gift, Appraisals, Tax Deductions

Donors give materials to the Center using our Deed of Gift which conveys ownership of the item(s) from the donor to The University of Texas at Austin. The Center staff will prepare the deed of gift in consultation with the donor, and can facilitate the transfer of materials as needed.

Donors sometimes are eligible to take a tax deduction for the market value of the materials they donate, and the Center advises prospective donors to consult their attorney or tax advisor for information on the possible advantages of this form of charitable giving. The market value of gifted materials is best established by the donor hiring an outside, independent appraiser who will evaluate the collection to establish market value. Center staff cannot make this evaluation. The IRS requires this outside, independent appraisal if the appraised value of a gift is greater than $5,000. Additionally, the IRS requires that the University sign IRS Form 8283 acknowledging receipt of the gift. Your appraiser and the Center will assist you in managing this paperwork. To be acceptable to the IRS, the appraisal must be made no more than 60 days before the date of the contribution and before the due date of the tax return.

Center staff can provide a list of appraisers, and if appropriate, the appraiser can conduct his evaluation on site at the Center.