How to Donate War Memorabilia

by Stephanie Dube Dwilson
Call the museum curator to find out whether the museum is interested in what memorabilia you have to offer.

Call the museum curator to find out whether the museum is interested in what memorabilia you have to offer.

By donating war memorabilia, you're adding to the understanding that other people will gain about a war when they visit the museum or archive that received your items. Donating war items isn't difficult. In fact, you have many options ranging from local museums to national archives.

Organize your war memorabilia. Take pictures of the memorabilia and write down information for each item, including who used it and if you have any war-era pictures of the item and the military person who used it. Doing an Internet search or taking a picture of your item and putting it in an image search can help you with reference points.

Interview people familiar with war items to help with identification. If you aren't sure what war your memorabilia is from, try visiting your local Veterans of Foreign Wars post and talking to veterans to get ideas about the memorabilia's possible origin. You can also visit local museums and ask for ideas and expertise about items.

Identify local museums and organizations that would be interested in your items if you want to donate them locally. Internet searches can help you identify local museums. Visit their websites or call the museums' curators to find out what items they're currently accepting. They may want you to bring the item by so they can view its condition and decide it they want to accept it. Military.com includes a map of the U.S. with a list of local museums and contact information in each state. In addition, try calling local schools and universities to see whether the ROTC organizations have school museums and are accepting donations.

Identify national museums that are accepting donations of memorabilia of the war in question. Museums may list on their website exactly what items they're accepting, or you can call the curator for more information. You may need to e-mail photos of the items so the museum curator can assess condition before he accepts them. For example, the National WWII Museum in New Orleans accepts a variety of World War II memorabilia, including Axis rifles, Axis pistols, some films and some medals.

Remember that uniforms, weapons and military items aren't the only war memorabilia that museums and organizations covet. Letters that servicemen sent to their loved ones during wars, photos from the war and personal stories may also be accepted. For example, the Virginia War Memorial's Research Library focuses on collecting memoirs and personal narratives from U.S. veterans. It's interested in items from all armed forces branches and from any wars, including conflicts that involved the U.S., but weren't officially declared wars.

Tip

  • Look for locations that are 501(c)(3) nonprofit centers. If you donate to a museum or organization that is listed as a nonprofit with the IRS, your item will be tax deductible.

About the Author

With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.

Photo Credits

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