Donating Historical Materials

To document the history of design and the built environment, the Archives collects personal correspondence, student work, travel diaries and sketch books, photographs, faculty papers, speeches, awards, articles, firm records, business records, and project files including correspondence, drawings, specifications, photographs, and plans. The Environmental Design Archives carefully preserves these architecture, landscape architecture, architectural photography, and selected design collections to ensure that the personal papers and professional records will be available for future research and use.

A potential donor should contact Waverly Lowell, Curator of the Archives to discuss the material, the process of making a donation, and the issues involved. Once a donation has been accepted by the Archives, donors are asked to sign a formal agreement which legally transfers the actual property to the University of California. Prospective donors should become familiar with the Archives’ policies and procedures and discuss any special needs or concerns prior to completing the donor agreement.

Once a collection has been transferred to the Environmental Design Archives, it is housed securely under environmentally stable conditions to ensure that it is available and preserved as long as is humanly possible. Access to donated records is governed by written policies regarding availability, research use, and reproduction.

Transfer of historical materials may include complex issues such as copyright and privacy. Generally copyright belongs to the creator of the material and his/her heirs, but can be legally transferred to others. The Archives prefers the transfer of copyright at the time the records are physically transferred. This makes it easier for the Archives to respond to requests from researchers to use the documents.

Privacy concerns may arise for personal papers. Sensitive materials should not be removed by the donor. Rather, the donor should discuss with the archivist the possibility of restricting portions of the donation to protect the privacy of the donor or others.

Financial Appraisals for Tax Deductions

It may be possible to take a tax deduction for the donation of original documents, models, drawings, artifacts, and furniture to a repository. Such a charitable donation may require a formal appraisal by a qualified appraiser as curators and archivists cannot provide tax advice or appraise a donation for monetary value. It is up to the donor to bear the cost of any such appraisal and to discuss the process of tax benefits with their financial advisor or accountant. The Archives is pleased to provide a list of local appraisers. Unfortunately, the Tax Reform Act of 1969 (public Law 91-12) eliminated tax deductions based on the donation of historical manuscripts or records by their originators (IRS section 170 (e)). The only deductible value allowed for the living creator of the records is for the actual cost of materials used to create the documents.