Donating an Item to the Museum Collections
Thank you for your interest in donating materials to the Elgin Area Historical Society. The Museum regularly acquires new artifacts and archival pieces for its permanent exhibits at Old Main through the generosity of individuals, businesses and estates. Nearly all items acquired by the Elgin Area Historical Society for the permanent museum collections are donated or part of a bequest. All acquisitions assist in enhancing the collections and fulfilling our role as caretakers and interpreters of our city's rich heritage and history.
Types of artifacts collected
The Elgin Area Historical Society's permanent collections include over 35,000 two- and three-dimensional items, including the following:
Household and industrial objects
Furniture, clothing and textiles, paintings and sculptures, architectural fragments, transportation artifacts and agricultural implements
Prints, photographs, films, audio and videotapes
Business, institutional and personal archives consisting of original manuscripts and documents (such as diaries, letters, ledgers, journals, etc.)
The Elgin Area Historical Society collecting scope currently emphasizes the following considerations:
- Materials that pertain directly to Elgin businesses, churches/religious organizations, schools, city government/services and social or residential life, since the city’s founding in 1835.
- Materials that tell a story about people who were residents of Elgin, or had an impact on Elgin.
Collections wish list
The Elgin Area Historical Society is actively seeking the following items for its permanent collections:
- Products and materials related to Elgin businesses, such as the Elgin National Watch Company; Elgin American; Woodruff & Edwards; Reinheimer Brothers, Elgin Stove and Oven, Collingbourne Mills/Virginia Snow, and Elgin dairies.
- Photographic images that document Elgin from its founding until present day
- Objects and two-dimensional items related to sporting events, activities and sites in the town, such as baseball, basketball, Lords Park, Wing Park, Elgin Road Races, etc.
- Copies of home movies documenting Elgin families during holiday and celebratory events, such as birthdays, baptisms and christenings, first communions, bar and bat mitzvahs, confirmations, graduations, etc.
- Everyday garments and accessories worn by Elginites, such as clothing of the middle- and working-class during the 19th and early 20th centuries
- Materials related to political activity within the City of Elgin
Frequently asked questions about donations to the collections
How do I donate an artifact?
If you are interested in making an artifact donation, please contact the Museum Director at 847.742.4248 or email@example.com to discuss your potential donation and/or to set up an appointment for item review.
What does the Elgin Area Historical Society collect?
The Elgin Area Historical Society collects two- and three-dimensional materials related to Elgin businesses, schools, families, etc., from 1835 to the present. The materials accepted into the museum's permanent collection are held in public trust and are preserved in perpetuity according to prevailing museum standards.
What happens after I contact the Museum Director?
Once you have made an appointment with the Museum Director, to meet either at your home or at the Museum, and your materials are taken for consideration, a Temporary Custody Receipt is completed for every potential donation. On it are spaces to note donor name and contact information, object name(s) and description(s), any known history of an item, a space to check whether or not you want your item(s) back if it is declined, and a space to sign and date the receipt form, by both the donor and the Museum Director. A completed copy of this form is given to potential donors at the time items are dropped off or picked up.
If you do not live in the Elgin area it is recommended that you mail or e-mail images of the proffered material(s) to the Museum Director. Once an item is offered for potential acquisition, it is added to a list of items to be discussed at a Collections Committee Meeting. If an item does not fall within scope for the Museum Collection, it potentially could be added to the Reference, Study, or Education Collections.
How are proffered materials reviewed by the Museum?
Proffered donations are reviewed by the Museum's Collections Committee, which consists of Society board members, volunteer collections staff, and the Museum Direcotr, all of whom are knowledgeable about the Museum's collection holdings. The Committee's decision is guided by the criteria specified in the Collections Management Policty, but also considers proffered materials with respect to condition, duplication to current holdings, as well as the required resources to properly store and care for the object in perpetuity. The sensitive nature of certain materials and objects or ownership and copyright issues may also determine the ability to collect them. Each item is decided upon by majority vote.
How long will it take for the Museum to review my donation?
On average, the Collections Committee meets every six weeks. After the meeting you will be notified by the Museum Director of the decision about your proffered donation(s). It should be noted that certain proffered donations require some research prior to Collections Committee review, which will delay the decision regarding the acquisition.
Will the Elgin Area Historical Society provide an appraisal for my donation?
The Elgin Area Historical Society cannot provide appraisals for donated materials due to a potential conflict of interest. The IRS views museums as interested parties and any monetary appraisal prepared for donors by the Museum is subject to question or disqualification. The Museum is happy to refer donors to licensed appraisers in the area or you can find a qualified appraiser by contacting the American Society of Appraisers at http://www.appraisers.org.
Can I take a tax deduction for my donation?
The Elgin Area Historical Society is recognized as a qualified charitable organization and donations may be considered for tax deduction under the Society's 501(c) 3 tax-exempt status. Typically the fair market value of donated materials is generally tax deductible. To be eligible for the tax deduction for your donation, you must file tax form 1040. For donors wishing to take a tax deduction on donated materials valued over $500 within the year the deduction is taken the Society will complete IRS Form 8283 (Non-cash Charitable Contributions), Part IV, Donee Acknowledgment. It is also recommended that donors consult with their own accountant, attorney and the IRS to ensure the maximum benefit of the tax deduction is realized for donated materials.
Will the Elgin Area Historical Society exhibit my donated items?
EAHS cannot guarantee that any donated materials will be exhibited, unless collected and accepted explicitly for that purpose. The Museum is committed to ensuring the long-term preservation of donated materials, displayed or preserved in storage. Based on various factors and criteria such as condition and display needs for the Museum, many donated materials are available for scholarly research and on occasion loaned to other museums and cultural centers for special displays and exhibitions.
If I donate materials to the Elgin Area Historical Society will they be returned upon my request?
EAHS cannot return accessioned items to donors. Once the Collections Committee approves the acceptance of your proffered donation into the Museum's permanent collection a Deed of Gift is issued by the Museum Director and signed by the donor. This document provides transfer of legal ownership of the item to the Elgin Area Historical Society.
If the Museum will not accept my item as a donation, will they accept it as a long-term loan?
EAHS does not generally accept long-term or permanent loans. While various materials are accepted on a short-term basis related to special exhibitions, programs or events, the institution chooses to commit its resources to the storage and preservation of objects within its own permanent collection holdings.
How do I donate other types of materials?
For items that do not fall within the collecting scope of the Museum, Reference, and Study Collections, but may be helpful to the operation of the Museum, please contact the Museum Director at 847.742.4248.