University of Minnesota
Immigration History Research Center

Immigration History Research Center's home page.

Donating Materials to an Archive

We encourage people who have or know of potentially relevant material to contact us in order that arrangements might be made to ensure the proper preservation of valuable historical documentation. It is important that recommendations or offers of material be discussed in advance with our curatorial staff. Please call, write, or e-mail IHRC Archivist.

What types of items are in the IHRC collections?

The IHRC Archives is commited to helping to preserve historical materials that document immigration and ethnic life in America. All of our IHRC holdings can be searched on our Research Collections page. Among the materials we collect are:

  • Personal Papers -Correspondence, diaries, photographs, unpublished manuscripts, family narratives, and oral histories, sheet music and music scores (published or unpublished)
  • Ethnic Community Materials - Ethnic newspapers and magazines, books, pamphlets, photographs, church bulletins, posters, flyers, and announcements of community events
  • Organization Records - Meeting minutes, correspondence, by-laws and constitutions, publications, ledgers and membership rosters, and financial records
  • Non-Print Materials - Photographs and photo albums, all formats of moving images (movies), video tapes, audio tape and phonograph records, and microfilm
The IHRC does not procur historical artifacts such as craft objects, clothing, tools, and utensils. Those materials properly belong in a museum environment where they can be cared for and exhibited.

Preparing Materials for Donation

It is very important that you contact the curatorial staff to discuss future donation of materials. We will advise you on how to preserve materials at your location. Please call, write, or e-mail IHRC Archivist.

Keep the Materials in their Current Order

There is no need to make a special effort to arrange or rearrange the materials, as the arrangement may have historical significance. As much as possible, try to maintain the original order of the documents, including placement of photographs.

Don't Worry if the Materials are in a Foreign Language

Many valuable materials are in languages other than English. We rely on multilingual staff members or friends from the various ethnic communities to help us with non-English materials.

When Dealing with Fragile Materials, Handle them with Care

Whenever possible, place in unsealed plastic bags (similar in size to fragile items) or in unsealed manila envelopes, keeping them in order as you are placing the materials in boxes.

The following suggestions are optional, but helpful to archival staff in processing materials:

  • Provide Historical or Biographical Information about the Collection
    This information helps archivists in processing the collection accurately. A list of materials helps also.
  • Identify Unmarked Materials
    If this is possible, it is again helpful for processing efforts. Should you be able to identify photographs, please do so on the back of the photograph lightly in pencil.

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