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The Center actively collects artifacts, documents, film, photographs, and other materials that chronicle the history of the Sacramento region. Materials need not be monetarily valuable, organized, “old,” or related to a prominent entity or event in order for them to be historically significant. Our holdings include city and county government records and donations from everyday individuals, families, businesses, and community organizations. If you have an item or collection you’d like to donate to the Center, please contact us at or 916-808-7072.

While the Center cannot accept everything offered, we are happy review materials and will always suggest other organizations that might be more appropriate for them.


Considerations Before Donating

The Center accepts only permanent donations of materials. Donors are asked to sign a donation agreement, called a Deed of Gift, which formally signifies that the materials become the property of the City of Sacramento and the Center for Sacramento History. 

Once materials are donated, researchers, museum patrons, and other users will be able to access them by visiting the Center or wherever the Center's exhibitions are displayed. Any formal use of the Center's holdings, in exhibits, publications, websites, or visual and audio productions, is accompanied with a credit line to those who donated the items. In order to ensure security and long-term preservation, exhibited materials are displayed under stringent security and preservation standards, and research materials are used only at the Center under supervision.

Because the exhibition and research value of items may be diminished if they are restored or rearranged, donors are encouraged to contact the Center before repairing, discarding, or reorganizing materials. Sensitive items that may exist in the collection should not be removed by the donor. Instead, you should discuss with the curator/archivist the possibility of restricting part of the collection to address privacy concerns, trade secrets or similar matters. While the Center desires to make all items accessible to users, it can agree to reasonable restrictions for limited periods of time.

Assignment of copyright is often complex, and donors should work with Center staff to clarify issues of copyright ownership prior to completing a donation agreement. Generally, copyright belongs to the creator of writings and other original materials (such as photos and music) but can be legally transferred to heirs or others. Moreover, ownership of copyright is separable from ownership of the physical item (the letter or photo). The Center asks donors to donate not only the physical materials but also any copyright that the donor might own. This makes it easier for the Center to respond to requests from researchers to use the documents.

In certain circumstances, it may be possible for a donor to take a tax deduction for the donation of a collection. Donors are encouraged to speak with their tax accountants or attorneys about such arrangements. Center staff cannot give tax advice, nor are they permitted to appraise the monetary value of a collection. The Center can provide donors with a list of local appraisers who can (for a fee) make monetary appraisals. It is a donor's responsibility to arrange for and bear the cost of appraisal.

Monetary and In-kind Donations

The Center accepts monetary gifts through its non-profit foundation, the Sacramento History Alliance. These tax deductible gifts can be earmarked for specific purposes and programs at the Center. Preparing materials for use in exhibits and by researchers is the most expensive operation in any historical repository. Although monetary grants are not a prerequisite for the acceptance of a collection, donors who are able to assist the Center by making grants toward the arrangement, cataloging, and preservation of their donations are encouraged to do so.