Where to Donate Records to Make Them Available to Everyone

The following article originally appeared in Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter 1 February 2015

A newsletter reader sent an interesting question this week, asking where to donate newly-found documents that may be of interest to many other genealogists. Here is an excerpt from her message: “I recently was going through records and old documents that my grandmother had saved and came across an original passenger list of one of my immigrant ancestors from Poland/Prussia in 1895. To the best of my searching, I have not found any other records from this ship and this document is nowhere else to be found. I have scanned mine in so that others may benefit from it. The problem is I don’t know what to do with it. Aside from attaching it to my ancestors records. Where else can I deposit this information?”

I believe I can give some answers but suspect that other newsletter readers can contribute even more ideas. Here are my suggestions:

Most repositories gladly accept collections of original materials related to the library’s interests. However, few or none of them will accept compiled genealogies that simply list one’s own ancestry.

Founded in 1894, the FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City began to acquire genealogical records and continues to do so today. The Library is now the repository for more than 2.4 million rolls of microfilm, 742,000 microfiche, 310,000 books and other materials such as journals, maps and electronic resources. The Library presently accepts the following materials:

  • Autobiographies and biographies containing genealogical material
  • Family histories with genealogical information
  • Indexes to records
  • Local histories (limited)
  • Well organized collections of genealogical and research materials

The FamilySearch Library also accepts other items although there are some guidelines as to what can be accepted as well as a list of items that cannot be accepted. Details may be found in the FamilySearch document, Gifts, Donations, and Loans to FamilySearch, at https://familysearch.org/sites/default/uploads/Donations-Guidelines-REVISION-12-July-2012.pdf. Library employees do ask you to contact the library prior to donating anything.

The Allen County Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, has the largest genealogy collection of any publicly-funded library. The Library’s Genealogy Center accepts donations; as stated on the Library’s web page at http://www.genealogycenter.org/Donate.aspx: “We welcome your contributions of papers, books, and disks of data. In print or in digital formats, your work will not only benefit great numbers of researchers, it will also be preserved for generations to come on our shelves and webpages. Whether it’s research articles, images of military veterans in your family history, completed books, indices to record groups large and small, or copies of the family record pages in your family Bible, all will find a good home in The Genealogy Center. Contributions can be mailed or sent electronically directly to The Genealogy Center.”

The New England Historic Genealogical Society encourages members and friends to consider donating their genealogical materials. Donations of books and other published material (family histories, periodicals, etc.) relevant to genealogy or local history are greatly appreciated. Details may be found at http://www.americanancestors.org/Support/Donate-Materials/.

The Newberry Library is a large genealogy and local history library in Chicago and is always looking for books and historic documents that will extend, strengthen, and complement the library’s collection. If you are considering such a donation, please contact a library curator or librarian first. Details may be found at http://www.newberry.org/collecting-newberry.

The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) also accepts donations although I believe their focus is primarily on the society’s Americana Collection containing manuscripts and imprints pertaining to the history of Colonial America, the Revolutionary War period and the Early National period. Details may be found at http://www.dar.org/sites/default/files/members/darnet/forms/HG-1009.pdf.

The Midwest Genealogy Center in Kansas City accepts donations of gently-used genealogy books and yearbooks. In addition, certain donated materials deemed to have unique or noteworthy content are considered on a case-by-case basis for special disposition. The Midwest Genealogy Center no longer accepts unpublished research materials.

Finally, the Internet Archive is not a genealogy organization but is used by tens of thousands of genealogists to find historical information. The Internet Archive accepts donations of almost ALL digital cultural artifacts, genealogy-related and non-genealogy items alike. Items need to be digitized first and then uploaded, with the exception of large collections of books that the Internet Archive is willing to digitize themselves. Details may be found at https://archive.org/about/faqs.php#Uploading_Content.

The above certainly is not a complete list. Many local special collection libraries, universities, genealogy societies, and historical societies also accept donations of materials that are relevant to their areas of interest. Such repositories ensure that these personal and family records will be available for research by generations to come. The Society of American Archivists has published Donating Your Personal or Family Records to a Repository at http://www2.archivists.org/publications/brochures/donating-familyrecs although that helpful article does not list specific repositories that might be interested in your donation.

I suspect other newsletter readers can contribute other suggestions as well. If so, please offer your suggestions in the comments below. I will collect the better suggestions and incorporate them into a future update to this article.

Web Analytics