Donating to the Collections

Are you ready to make a donation?

If you believe that you have materials that should be donated to Special Collections and Archives at Georgia State University, we look forward to working with you! Special Collections and Archives staff prefer to work closely with donors to determine what records or documents have continuing historic interest prior to the donation of a collection. The importance of records and documents diminish if they are removed, reordered or rearranged. Donors are encouraged to contact Special Collections and Archives prior to sorting or rearranging materials they wish to donate. While Special Collections and Archives is always looking for large donations that document its areas of focus, we are also happy to receive single items as well.

Below are two lists of types of materials that typically have historic value. Please note that these lists are not definitive and there may be other document types not included that may have continuing research value.

Personal and Family Papers:
Letters Diaries Scrapbooks
Speeches Research Notes Lecture Notes
Photo Albums Photographs Biographical Info.
Genealogical Info. Professional Files Video & Audio Tapes

Organization and Institutional Records:

Articles of Incorporation By-laws Annual Reports
Correspondence Meeting Minutes Legal Documents
Financial Documents Planning Documents Press Releases
Publications Photographs Video & Audio Tapes


How Do I Make A Donation?

Your personal papers or organizational records should be considered for donation to us when they are no longer used on a regular basis. The first step in making a donation is to contact the archivist in charge of the collection to which you want to donate. In cases where the records are relatively local or are large in quantity, Special Collections and Archives staff may wish to see them before they are physically transferred. In such cases it is best that the records not be rearranged prior to inspection by the Special Collections and Archives. Arrangements can then be made for the physical transfer of the records.

Preparing Material for Physical Transfer

Special Collections and Archives can provide empty boxes and assistance upon request. Folders should be placed in the boxes with labels showing. Don’t over-fill boxes. If the last box is not full, wad up tissue paper to fill remaining space so materials don’t slump and fall out of the folders. If possible, include an inventory of folder titles or items in each box and keep one copy of this inventory for your records.

Provide identification for unmarked items, such as photographs. In the case of unidentified photographs, do not mark on the back of photographs. Instead, write the description of the photograph on a separate piece of paper and place paper behind the photograph it describes. Special Collections staff can provide appropriate supplies. If they are available, please include negatives along with the photographs.

Legal Transfer of Ownership

Ownership of the records is transferred when the donor signs a deed of gift. While the deed of gift is a standard document, it can be customized to suit the needs of individual donors.

Restrictions on Access

Special Collections and Archives encourage full access to all manuscript collections. On occasion access to certain materials within a collection may be restricted for a set period of time. In these instances the Special Collections and Archives staff will discuss with the donor reasonable restrictions on access in accordance with the policies of the Special Collections and Archives.


Copyright usually belongs to the creator of the records (letters, diaries, photographs, etc.). Special Collections and Archives strongly encourage donors to consider transferring copyright of their papers to Georgia State University Board of Regents. Transfer of copyright greatly assists researchers who might wish to quote or cite references in the collection.

Monetary Appraisal for Tax Deductions

Donors may be able to take a tax deduction for the donation of personal papers. Donors wishing to have more information on this matter should speak with either a tax consultant or an attorney. By law, Special Collections and Archives staff cannot give tax advice or appraise 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.

Care for Collections

Special Collections and Archives is managed by professional archivists whose first priority is preservation of and access to historic materials. To provide research access, collections are arranged and described. Archivists prepare descriptive guides and inventories which are used by researchers to select materials to study. To provide information about the department’s holdings, the staff enters a description of each collection into GIL, the library’s online catalog, and OCLC’s World Cat bibliographic database.

All materials are stored in acid-free containers in secure, climate-controlled areas. Archival materials do not circulate and only Special Collections and Archives staff may retrieve materials or make copies for researchers.

Monetary Donations

The cost of caring for, describing and giving access to rare and historic materials is extremely high. Donors who can do so are encouraged to consider making a monetary donation toward the arrangement, description and preservation of their papers or records.