Collection Donation

Thank you for considering a collection donation to the Johnson County Historical Society. Our community history is rich with stories—stories we are dedicated to preserving. Our collections space houses more than 10,000 artifacts and is made possible only by people like you.

The following frequently asked questions may assist you in determining the process you would like to pursue in making a collection donation to the Johnson County Historical Society. For detailed information, please download the JCHS Collections Policy.

How do I donate my items to JCHS?

Call us at (319) 351-5738 to speak with one of our staff members regarding your item(s) prior to coming to the museum or use our online contact form to send us an email. Due to staff workload, drop off donations are not accepted.

What kinds of items is the Johnson County Historical Society looking for?

  • Photographs
  • Documents—includes official documents as well as informal documents such as diaries or letters
  • Tools and equipment—obsolete ways of doing routine tasks, at home or at work, especially those representing a break with an older technology
  • Items made or used in Johnson County, especially advertising memorabilia, directories, calendars or posters

What kinds of items is the Johnson County Historical Society NOT looking for?

  • Newspapers or newspaper clippings
  • Items with unremovable mold, mildew, fungus, or other communicable hazards (please Contact Us if you have questions)

Does the Historical Society accept all donations?

We might refuse an item if:

  • There is no connection to Johnson County or to a person who has lived, worked, or passed through the county
  • We have duplicates of an item in our collection
  • Its condition is such that we cannot add it to our collections

If you are unsure, check with us first.

What makes an item historically valuable?

Historic value is based on these three criteria:

  1. Evidential value—does the item tell about some aspect of life in Johnson County? How well does it speak of change over time?
  2. Association value—was the item associated with a particular person or event?
  3. Condition—is the item in good enough shape to serve as evidence of life in Johnson County?

An item does not have to meet all three criteria to be valuable. If one criterion is strongly met, the others may be less important.

Why does JCHS collect these items?

Often the best way to learn about Johnson County is through the items used by its residents in their lives and work. We also use these items to share the stories with others through exhibits, programs, and publications.

What if I am in doubt about throwing it out?

Try to imagine what might be interesting to your great-great-grandchildren, or just call and ask.