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. The heart and soul of our organization is the collection. It houses more than 10,000 artifacts and is made possible only by people like you. We look forward to hearing from 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.

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 have all three criteria to be valuable. If one is strong, 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 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 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.

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.

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.