October 14, 2015

Collection and Archives Overview and Guidelines for Donating Materials

How do I donate materials?

Collection Overview

The National Museum of American Jewish Military History collection is made up of over 5,000 artifacts. The collection includes objects from nearly every American military conflict, with the bulk of the collection relating to World War II. The three-dimensional object collection is stored in climate-controlled storage areas and is used for exhibition, loans to other museums, reference, and research.

Archives Overview

The National Museum of American Jewish Military History archival collection contains substantial materials related to American Jewish military history from the Civil War to the present. The collection includes original photographs, letters, diaries, films, military documents, newspapers and manuscripts related to Jewish-American military history. The archives also contain materials relating to the history of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. (1896-present), The archival collection is stored in climate-controlled storage areas and is used for reference, research and in exhibitions when appropriate.

Acquisition and Accession of Materials

Objects may be added to the collections by either gift, bequest, purchase, exchange or any other transaction by which title to the objects passes to the Museum. The acceptance of objects to the Museum will be based on the following priorities:

  • to strengthen collection areas in which the Museum has a direct use in present or projected research or in current educational or exhibition programs; those needed to fill gaps or supplement objects of lesser quality;
  • to broaden the base of already-established collection areas or immediately adjacent to a previously established one;
  • to obtain collections of a general nature which are within the broad interests of the Museum.

The Museum cannot accept objects upon which restrictions are placed which prevent effective research examination, exhibition use, loan or disposal. The Museum also cannot accept objects on conditions which would require that they be placed on permanent or long-term exhibition loan, or that the collection of which they form a part should be kept together permanently and/or displayed only as a discrete collection.

Guidelines for Offering Materials

What materials are accepted by the Museum?

The National Museum of American Jewish Military History is continually seeking to improve its permanent collection of photographs, archival materials, and three-dimensional objects. Specific items are added to the collection if they have historic value and are not already well-represented in the collection. The growth of our collection is largely dependent upon individual donations.

How do I offer materials to the Museum?

Do not send materials at this time. Please fill out a donor questionnaire, available online or by writing to the Collections Manager at National Museum of American Jewish Military History (1811 R St., NW, Washington, DC 20009) or e-mail to pelbe@nmajmh.org. Fill out the donor questionnaire, including as much background information as possible. Return the questionnaire to the Collections Manager, who will review it and contact you with a response.

What will happen after the Museum receives the questionnaire?

The information you provide regarding the materials offered for donation will be carefully reviewed to decide whether or not the materials will be accepted. Two primary criteria are used to determine whether an offered item should be accepted into the collection:

  • Will the artifact be of interest to present and/or future historians and visitors?
  • Is the artifact already well-represented in the collection?

What is done when an object is accepted into the collection?

A formal letter of acknowledgement will be sent by the museum to the donor. Enclosed will be a Deed of Gift form which needs to be signed and returned to complete our records and to make the donation a legal transaction. The Deed need not be notarized.

When an item is accepted into our permanent collection, it becomes available for study by researchers, historians, writers and other interested parties. The Museum does not accept any item with the stipulation that it must be exhibited. All objects are considered for inclusion in exhibitions when appropriate.

Although the National Museum of American Jewish Military History is not allowed to perform appraisals, all gifts are tax deductible. It is not our policy to recommend an appraiser, however, the American Society of Appraisers is a nationwide organization which may be of some assistance.