|ABOUT MANUSCRIPTS AND ARCHIVES :: DONATING MATERIALS
What to Donate
Archivists on the staff of Manuscripts and Archives work closely with donors
to identify those materials of research interest which should be preserved. Although not all
and records fall within the collecting scope of the department, the types of materials listed below
are often valuable. These lists are suggestive but not definitive.
Personal and Family Papers:
Letters, diaries, speeches/lectures, albums/scrapbooks, memoirs/reminiscences, photographs, professional files, genealogical information, films, videotapes and audiotapes.
Articles of incorporation/constitution/bylaws, correspondence, planning documents, architectural records, legal documents, diaries, minutes of meetings, reports, memoranda, newsletters and other publications, directories, financial documents, press releases, membership records, and research and subject files.
Because the research value of papers and records may be diminished if items are
rearranged, donors are encouraged to contact the staff of Manuscripts and Archives before
discarding or rearranging materials.
The Transfer of Materials to Manuscripts and Archives
After working with donors to identify materials appropriate for preservation,
staff will make arrangements to have the papers or records transported to the Yale University
Library. Legal transfer of the materials from the donor to Manuscripts and Archives occurs
the donor reviews and signs a gift agreement formally making a gift of the collection to the
library. Manuscripts and Archives can only invest materials and labor in the care of collections
which it owns. The department generally does not accept materials on deposit or on
Restrictions on Access
Sensitive material may, at times, be found within collections. Manuscripts and
Archives staff will discuss with a donor the possibility of restricting parts of a collection to
the privacy of the donor or of others. Although desiring to make all papers and records
freely accessible to researchers, the department will normally agree to reasonable and equitable
restrictions for limited periods of time.
Copyright generally belongs to the creator of writings and other original
material (such as photographs and music), and can be legally transferred. To enable scholars to
quote readily from collections, the department encourages donors to transfer any copyright which
they possess in the donated papers to Yale University.
Monetary Appraisals for Tax Deductions
In certain circumstances, it may be possible for a donor to take a tax
deduction for the donation of a manuscript collection to Manuscripts and Archives. Donors are
encouraged to speak with their tax accountants or attorneys about this possibility. By law,
Manuscripts and Archives staff cannot give tax advice or appraise the 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 of the Collections
Collections are kept in environmentally-controlled, secure, closed vault areas,
and do not circulate outside of Manuscripts and Archives. Staff members retrieve them from the
vaults for research use in a supervised reading room. When the department is closed, the facility
is protected by an electronic security system and by the security staffs of the library and
To provide research access, collections are arranged and described by
experienced, professional archivists. They 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 Orbis, the library's online catalog.
Collections may contain materials that have physically deteriorated and are in
need of treatment to ensure their long-term preservation. If necessary, staff archivists can consult
and work with professional conservators in the library's Preservation Department
to decide upon
Providing physical and intellectual control of valuable collections is
expensive. Donors who are able to do so are encouraged to provide financial support for the
arrangement, description, and preservation of their papers or records.
For Further Information
To discuss donating a collection of personal papers or organizational records
to Manuscripts and Archives, please contact William Massa at (203) 432-1742 or by email