Donate to the Collection
Interested in Donating to The History Museum's Collection?
Thank you for your interest in contributing another piece of history to the Northern Indiana Historical Society. As keeper of the community’s memory, The History Museum’s Permanent Collection and Archives reflect the people who have lived here. These collections are comprised of over 450,000 objects that encompass the heritage of the St. Joseph River Valley Region. Over the last 150 years, nearly 95 percent of those items have been donations from individuals, families, and organizations. Donated items are preserved at the museum to be used for research, interpretation of community history, and as artifacts in exhibits and educational programs.
If you are interested in donating items to the museum, please complete the Artifact Donation Form, and allow 1-2 weeks for processing. If you have any questions, please contact The History Museum’s Registrar by phone at (574) 235-9664, ext. 245 or by email at
Please Note: Artifacts cannot be accepted without prior communication with Collections staff.
Frequently Asked Questions about Donations
What happens after the Collections Management Committee makes its decision?
The museum’s Registrar will contact individuals via phone or email and inform them of the decision. Further discussion on the next steps will take place at that time.
Will an item I donate be on display?
The Northern Indiana Historical Society cannot guarantee that any objects or documents donated to its collection will be exhibited unless expressly collected for that purpose. Only a small fraction of the collection is on view at any given time. This minimizes the risk of damage to artifacts and documents and helps us preserve those items for future generations. However, artifacts and documents can be made accessible for research purposes.
If my item is not on display, can I see it?
If you have donated an item to the collection and it is not on display, please know that it has been properly stored in the best materials to promote preservation of its current condition, and will remain so until removed for exhibition or research purposes. If you would like to see an item you donated, use the Artifact for Research Request form click here . Please allow 3-4 weeks for processing.
How can I use an item for research purposes?
Items belonging to the Northern Indiana Historical Society can be made available for researchers. This is by appointment only. If you would like to use an artifact from the Permanent or Archival Collections for research, fill out the Artifact for Research Request Form click here . Please allow 3-4 weeks for processing, at which time the Archivist or Registrar will respond to those requests.
Is my donation tax deductible?
Yes. The History Museum is recognized as a qualified charitable organization, making the fair market value of a donation generally tax deductible. To take advantage of your deduction, you must file tax form 1040 and, depending on the value of your donation, tax form 8283. It is recommended that you consult with your own accountant, attorney, or the IRS to ensure that you receive the maximum tax benefit. You may also consult Internal Revenue Service Publication No. 526, Charitable Contributions, and Publication No. 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property
Can the museum give me an appraisal of my donation?
The History Museum does not provide appraisals of materials proposed for donation or for any other reason. Because the Internal Revenue Service regards museums and libraries as interested parties, monetary appraisals prepared for donors by such institutions are subject to question or disqualification. However, professional appraisers will perform this service for a fee. To find a licensed appraiser in your area, contact one of the following organizations for a referral.
American Society of Appraisers
International Society of Appraisers
Appraisers Association of America
Please know that we recommend getting an appraisal of items prior to proposing them to the museum for donation. All fees associated with appraisal are the responsibility of the donor.
Can I loan an item to the museum?
Yes, The History Museum does borrow items for exhibit. In addition to the museum’s artifacts, we sometimes borrow items that are not represented in our collection from other cultural institutions, businesses, or individuals to enhance our exhibits. However, the museum is unable to accept long term loans, loans for an unspecified period of time, or items that are not related to a specific exhibit. We may seek artifacts in support of upcoming exhibits, but these loans are for a limited time, no more than 12 months, and are based on our needs as determined by the Collections staff.
Can I donate to the Copshaholm Collection?
No, the Copshaholm Collection is a closed collection. Copshaholm, the Oliver Mansion, is presented today exactly as it was given to the Northern Indiana Historical Society in 1988, with the addition of barriers, rugs, and additional handrails to allow visitors to tour the home. Copshaholm and all items on display in the Oliver Mansion were given to the Northern Indiana Historical Society by the descendants of J.D. and Anna Oliver.