Donating Material

Important Concepts

"Archival Records"  These are materials created or received by a person, family, or organization, public or private, in the conduct of their affairs that are preserved because of the enduring value contained in the information they contain or as evidence of the functions and responsibilities of their creator.

"Enduring Value"  This refers to the continuing usefulness or significance of records, based on the administrative, legal, fiscal, evidential, or historical information they contain, justifying their ongoing preservation.

"Intrinsic Value"  This refers to the usefulness or significance of an item derived from its physical or associational qualities, inherent in its original form and generally independent of its content, that are integral to its material nature and would be lost in reproduction.

What to Donate

The Archive collects archival material of historical value that documents Minnesotans' involvement in military-related activity. The archivist on the staff will work closely with donors to identify those materials of research interest which should be preserved. Although not all papers and records fall within the collecting scope of the department, the types of materials listed below are often valuable. These lists are suggestive but not definitive.


Personal Papers The personal papers of soldiers and their families are essential documents in telling the story of our past. This means not just the papers of well-known or prominent generals and officers, but also the personal papers and collections of infantrymen, airmen, or sailors of all ranks. Types of documents include letters, diaries, albums/scrapbooks, memoirs/reminiscences, photographs, professional files, genealogical information, films, videotapes and audiotapes.

Organizational Records Articles of incorporation/constitution/bylaws, correspondence, planning documents, architectural records, legal documents, diaries, minutes of meetings, reports, memoranda, newsletters and other publications, directories, financial documents, press releases, membership records, and research and subject files.

Special Collections

Rare and unique published materials by the United States military and military units stationed in Minnesota which can include, but are not limited to: Adjutant General reports, National Guard Bureau reports, divisional or regimental newsletters or publications, training manuals, or combat theater guides.  It also includes oral histories, conducted by a Minnesota Military & Veterans Museum staff member or trained volunteer, of personal stories of a Minnesota-connected veteran.

Rearranging Materials

Because the research value of papers and records may be diminished if items are removed or rearranged, donors are encouraged to contact the Archivist before selecting materials for donation.

Collecting Exclusions


In evaluating potential donations, the Archives looks for materials that meet accepted archival appraisal criteria such as completeness, readability, credibility, uniqueness, condition, and format to ensure that researchers have access to information that is both useful and usable. It is not possible for the Archives to accept all materials that are offered.

Donating Copies or Reproductions

Archives researchers prefer to use originals both for their readability and so that they can be assured of the integrity of the materials being studied.  In addition, it is better to preserve the original, since it is usually of the best quality and has not been degraded through any copying or digitization process. The Archives would be happy to provide you free of charge copies of any small collection that you donate, or of selected materials from any large collection that you donate.

The Legal Agreement Necessary for Donation

Donors are asked to sign a donation gift form, also known as a deed of gift, the legal document that governs a donation of materials to Minnesota Military & Veterans Museum. A deed of gift is required for every donation no matter what the size, or who the collection came from. Archives staff can supply sample deeds and will work with donors to define the terms of the gift. The deed addresses physical ownership, ownership of intellectual property rights, and by default provides no restrictions to a collection. Under extremely special circumstances will the museum grant restrictions to a donated collection and only with a specified sunset date upon which they will end. Accordingly, a donor cannot choose for restrictions to end upon your death because that is not a specified and knowable date.


The three most common restrictions are:

  1. Retention of copyright
  2. Restricting access to the collection
  3. Specifying that all unwanted material be returned to the donor

Most often the donor will own little or no copyright in the collection (e.g.. when the collection consists of works written or created by other people). In these cases, donors only donate the copyright which they own. Researchers will still need to obtain permission from other copyright holders to publish material.

Please be aware that we are not asking for copyright transfer in order to profit from your collection. Rather we do this to facilitate our researchers' work far into the future when the donor and the Minnesota Military & Veterans Museum may have lost touch and the donor cannot be located again.

Note: Also that if you are donating papers as a current or former officer of an organization, the papers may be subject to restrictions placed by the organization. You should discuss this matter with the organization.

Monetary Appraisals for Tax Deductions

In certain circumstances, it may be possible for a donor to take a tax deduction for the donation of a manuscript collection to he Archives. Donors are encouraged to speak with their tax accountants or attorneys about this possibility. By federal law, Archive staff cannot give tax advice or appraise the monetary value of a collection. They are able to provide donors with a list of manuscript appraisers, but it is the donor's responsibility to arrange for and bear the cost of any appraisal. The relevant IRS publications are:

  • Publication 651, Determining the Value of Donated Property
  • Publication 526, Charitable Contributions
  • Instructions for an Form 8283, non-cash Charitable Contributions

 These publications and forms are available at or by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM

The Transfer of Materials to the Archive

Before packing material, donors should call the Museum or the archivist to provide a brief description of the material. The archivist may then give the donor further advice on which files to send. Before shipping material, please call the archivist. This will allow us to prepare a space for the material and ensure the material is handled appropriately once it arrives at our location.


We appreciate any assistance a donor can make in packing and preparing records for shipment. This includes the following:

  1. Selecting and Weeding If you are packing the files yourself, please weed out files of mainstream newspaper clippings and magazine articles. You do not have to search for every clipping, but do not send any files of boxes composed entirely of clippings and articles.

 Packing order The material in the boxes should be in a sequential order. For example, if you have six file cabinets of materials: Box 1 should contain records for Cabinet 1, drawer 1; Box 2 should contain the remainder of drawer 1 and begin drawer 2, and so on. The last drawer of Cabinet 6 should be in the last box in the numerical sequence.

  1. Inventory We would greatly appreciate a rudimentary inventory. Without this inventory we (and researchers) will not know how your files were arranged and to what series or file set documents/files belong. The inventory can be as simple as this:

 Box 1: Correspondence, 1944 - 1945

 Box 2: Diaries, 1942 - 1945

 Box 3: Photographs, 1942 - 1946

  1. Boxing and labeling All materials should be packed securely, but not tightly, in strong packing boxes. Put a mailing label with our address on the inside of the box as well as the outside. Indicate which box of the total number it is, e.g. box Box 1 of 6. The outside label should read:

TO: (Archivist's Name)
Minnesota Military Museum
15000 Hwy. 115, Camp Ripley
Little Falls MN 56345

  1. Boxing and labeling Anything larger than a packet should be sent via UPS or Federal Express Ground. Please call the museum to inform us of what you are sending.

Description and Preservation of Collections

Collections are arranged and described by a professional archivist. He prepares descriptive guides and inventories which are used by researchers to select materials to study; these guides, known as finding aids, are available online: Finding Aids. Collections are kept in environmentally-controlled, secure, closed vault areas, and do not circulate outside of Manuscripts and Archives. Materials are used in a supervised reading room. When the department is closed, the facility is protected by an electronic security system and by the security staffs of the Camp Ripley military base. Providing physical and intellectual control of valuable collections is expensive. Donors who are able to do so are encouraged to provide financial support for the arrangement, description, and preservation of their papers or records.

Donation Contact Form


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