Donating to Special Collections

Donating to Special Collections

Do you have a DC story? Do you have something to donate to the Archives?  Let us know!

DC Public Library local history collections are built from the personal archives, family albums, scrapbooks, photographs, memorabilia, letters, and home movies of Washingtonians.  Help us continue to build upon our research collections in Washingtoniana.  We seek materials that document the social, cultural, and political life of the district with particular emphasis on the following subjects:

●  DC Home Rule/Statehood
●  Music, Art and Culture
●  LGBTQ history
●  Churches and Schools
●  Genealogy
●  Clubs, Societies and Businesses
●  Neighborhoods
●  Architecture and the Built Environment
●  Civil rights and Social Justice Movements
●  Ethnic and Immigrant Communities
A few guidelines for donations:

Because the research value of a collection might be affected if items are removed or rearranged, donors are encouraged to contact our archival team before selecting materials for donation. 

An archives staff member will review the materials you wish to donate and determine the best method for delivery to the Library; unfortunately, not all items are appropriate for the scope of the Libraries archival collection.
We prefer to accept your original item(s) for donation when possible, but understand that you may want to hold on to the original(s) in some situations. If this is the case, please consider letting us make a copy of your item(s) for our collection.
We can accept items of a wide array of formats including: paper, photographs, bound volumes, audio or video recordings, and digital files.
In certain circumstances, it may be possible for a donor to take a tax deduction for the donation of archival materials. Donors are encouraged to speak with their tax accountants or attorneys about this possibility. By law, Library staff cannot give tax advice or appraise the monetary value of a collection. We 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.
At the time of your donation, we will ask you to transfer any known rights you hold over the item(s) to us, which allows the Library to let researchers have full access to the materials you donate. We can also negotiate transfer of rights using creative commons licenses.
If you are interested in having a conversation about donating and preserving your collection, please contact our Archival Team at or 202-727-2272.

Would you like to learn more about donating your archives to a repository?  Visit the Society of American Archivists' donor education page. 

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