Donating archives, artifacts, and collections
Thank you for your interest in donating material to the Briscoe Center’s collections to support teaching and research in American history. Please be aware that not all material, for a variety of reasons, is a good match for the Briscoe Center. We look forward to discussing your potential gift with you.
Types of materials to consider donating
Donors often ask the center’s staff what kinds of historical materials we wish to acquire. The center is interested in personal, family, or business archives, or assembled collections of rare material which may include books, manuscripts, ephemera, oral histories, artifacts, maps, photographs, and newspapers pertaining to American people, places, events, or ideas. These materials may exist as objects, printed material, microfilm, audio or video recordings, electronic records, or born digital files. For more information regarding material that may be appropriate for donation, visit the Society of American Archivists’ “Guide to Donating Your Personal or Family Papers to a Repository.”
The Briscoe Center is particularly interested in the types of material listed in the menu below.
If you have such material in good condition that you would like to donate, please contact us to discuss your offer and determine if the content may enhance or expand the Briscoe Center’s collection strengths. Please remember that the Briscoe Center accepts only items that fall within its collecting scope. If you are in doubt about the suitability of your papers for donation, the best solution is to ask us!
Making a gift of collection material
After an initial email exchange or phone call with a Briscoe Center staff member and mutual interest in moving forward with your offer to donate collection material is determined, the center’s staff may also arrange a time with you to review the offered material in person. A collection review meeting provides staff with an opportunity to assess a number of factors pertaining to the donation including size, scope, and condition of the material, type of housing, and physical location. It also provides another opportunity for both parties to ask questions about the gift and to get to know each other. Staff often learns contextual information about material in collection review meetings that is helpful when arranging and making the material available to researchers.
Deed of Gift
After the Briscoe Center’s staff has reviewed the material offered for donation and both parties have all their questions satisfactorily answered, you then give the materials to the Briscoe Center using the university’s Deed of Gift form. This document conveys ownership of the item or items from you to The University of Texas at Austin. The center’s staff will prepare the standard Deed of Gift in consultation with you to ensure all pertinent details are accurately recorded. You then indicate your approval of the Deed of Gift by signing and dating it, and returning it to your Briscoe Center staff contact.
Transfer of gifted material
Once the Deed of Gift is signed and received, the Briscoe Center’s staff will work with you to arrange the physical transfer of materials as needed. Transfer arrangements may vary a great deal from one donation to the next depending on the size of the archive, type of material, type of existing housing, location, and a number of other factors. Your gift of collection material is not complete until the material has been physically transferred to the Briscoe Center. Once the donated material arrives at the center, the staff will record the date of receipt, arrange for a counter-signature by the Briscoe Center’s executive director, and return a copy of the completed Deed of Gift to you for your records.
While all collection material accepted by the Briscoe Center is considered historically valuable for teaching and research, some material may also have a market value which may qualify the donor for a charitable tax deduction. Donations of collection material to the Briscoe Center are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. However, there are a variety of factors to determine whether your gift qualifies you for a charitable tax deduction. The University of Texas at Austin does not provide tax advice. The university urges donors of collection material wishing to claim a tax deduction to seek the advice of professional counsel prior to signing the Deed of Gift. To learn more, review IRS Publication 561 at www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-publication-561.
Appraisals of fair market value for tax purposes
Once you and your advisors have decided to claim a charitable tax deduction, your next step is to determine whether the IRS requires your gift to have an appraisal of the fair market value of the donated material. As per IRS Publication 561, the IRS requires an independent evaluation from a qualified, certified appraiser for gifts of personal property valued over $5,000.
You, as the donor, must arrange and pay for the appraisal in order to maintain its status as an independent evaluation. The Briscoe Center, as the beneficiary of your gift, cannot arrange and pay for appraisals. To be acceptable to the IRS, the donation must be appraised no more than 60 days before the date of the contribution and before the due date of the tax return. To learn more about appraisals, The American Society of Appraisers FAQ may be helpful: www.appraisers.org/all-about-appraisers-and-appraisals/appraisals-faq.
Finding an appraiser
For your convenience, the center offers this list of local Austin appraisers with specialties in the Briscoe Center’s collection strengths, but you may use any independent appraiser you choose. You can find a certified, qualified appraiser through one of the three major professional appraisers associations’ websites:
- American Society of Appraisers
- Appraisers Association of America
- International Society of Appraisers
Once you have selected, interviewed, and hired your appraiser, he or she will need access to the material intended for donation in order to carefully review and document each item. You can arrange for the appraiser to work at the site where the collection is currently stored prior to transfer, such as your home, office, or storage facility. Or, you may work with Briscoe Center staff to arrange for transfer of the material to the center prior to the appraisal. The center’s staff can then assist you by scheduling a workspace at the center for the appraiser to conduct the evaluation.
Documentation of your gift for your tax return
Upon completion of the review, the appraiser will prepare a detailed report evaluating the material to be donated. In addition to the appraisal document prepared by a qualified appraiser, the IRS requires Form 8283 be submitted with your tax return. The appraiser will prepare and sign Form 8283, which documents their assessment of the fair market value of the donation for tax purposes. The appraiser will send you the final appraisal and Form 8283. You must then forward a copy of the appraisal report and the original Form 8283 to the Briscoe Center to acknowledge physical receipt of the gift via the counter-signature of an authorized university representative. The counter-signed IRS Form 8283 as well as a university-issued gift receipt will be sent to you to include with your tax return. Your appraiser and the Briscoe Center will assist you in managing the completion of this paperwork.
Timing considerations for tax receipt preparation
Please be aware that the whole process for donating collection material can take some time. Collection review, preparation of the Deed of Gift, signature and acceptance, and the physical transfer of the material can take several months or more depending on the size and location of the archive in question. The time required by your appraiser to review the donated material, research comparable values, document the findings, and prepare the appraisal report is also dependent on the size and location of the archive as well as the availability of workspace to conduct the appraisal and the appraiser’s current caseload. Once you have received and forwarded the completed appraisal report and appraiser-signed IRS Form 8283 to your Briscoe Center staff contact, it can take two to three weeks to route the documents to the necessary university offices for formal acceptance of the gift and return the counter-signed IRS Form 8283 and gift receipt to you for your tax return.
Please consider the time needed to process the required paperwork and plan the preparation of your tax return accordingly. The Briscoe Center will help facilitate the process with you and the university to ensure you receive your tax receipts in a timely fashion. Communication is key—please let us know your tax deadline when submitting your appraisal and Form 8283 to the center’s staff.
Contact us to discuss potential collection donations
If you have archival material you would like to offer for consideration, please contact Stephanie Malmros, Director for Research and Collections, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To discuss a potential gift of photographs or photographic archives, please contact Alison Beck, Director for Special Projects, at email@example.com.
To offer a donation of material culture for consideration, please contact Sarah Sonner, Associate Director for Exhibition Curation and Material Culture, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For assistance with gift paperwork in progress, please contact Evan Hocker, Registrar, at email@example.com.