Donating Personal or Family Records

Donating Personal or Family Records

Happy New Year!  It’s that time of year when we make resolutions to get organized, clean out those drawers and closets and maybe downsize.  As you are working on those tasks, you may find some family records or papers that don’t look that important, but you just can’t seem to toss them in the circular file.  Letters, diaries, memoirs, scrapbooks, genealogical information, thumb drives, disks, films and photographs are just a few of the things you may find.  Here at the Cumberland County Historical Society, we are dedicated to collect, preserve, interpret and promote the rich history of Cumberland County Pennsylvania and some of the items you uncover may find a home here in our archives.  When you donate your items to a repository or archives, your family history becomes a part of the community’s collective memory and become available for research by future generations.

If you do decide to donate items to CCHS, it is best to contact a staff member to discuss your donation before mailing or dropping off the items.  It is also very helpful to include any story or identification for photos, films, tapes and papers.  The staff member can then determine if these items should be housed in the CCHS collection, or if they would be better suited for another repository.  If it is determined that the items will be added to the CCHS collection, the donor will be sent paperwork to sign, including a deed of gift.  The deed of gift is a legal document and will be kept on file.  The item(s) will then be sorted, the information entered into the computer catalog and eventually, the items will be housed in an environmentally-controlled closed vault area.

If you would like more information on donating your personal records, you may consult a staff member at CCHS or you may obtain some helpful information from the Society of American Archivists at  All the best with your new year resolutions!

Debbie Miller, Collections Specialist, Archives and Library

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