What We Collect

Updated June 20, 2021

Generally, the HHS collects objects, ephemera, photographs, and documents, directly relating to the history of Hardwick which illuminate its changing life and culture over time. Some items that may not fit our permanent collection may make excellent additions to our education collection.

What items does the Hardwick Historical Society not collect?

The HHS only accepts items that directly relate to the history of Hardwick. We do not accept items simply because they are old, no matter how fascinating they might be.

Why can’t the Hardwick Historical Society accept everything? Why weren’t my items accepted?

Documenting, cataloging, preserving, and storing artifacts costs a great deal of money. Because each museum has a defined mission and limited resources, each will accept only what suits that mission. The HHS declines items that do not meet our collecting criteria, if we already own an example of the offered item, or if condition of the offered item is poor.

Why and how is ownership of my donation formally transferred to the Hardwick Historical Society?

In order for the HHS to incorporate new acquisitions into its catalog, we must first have legal possession of that object. To complete the donation process, the HHS volunteer will provide two copies of a “Deed of Gift” –  a form that legally and irrevocably transfers ownership to the HHS. The HHS retains one copy, while the donor retains the other for his/her records. The Deed of Gift is the donor’s official gift receipt and may be used as proof of donation for tax purposes.

What recognition do donors receive?

When we exhibit artifacts, we acknowledge the donors via the display label. A donor may specify how she/he wishes their name to be listed (within the limits of length and good taste). Donors may not place special conditions on how the HHS displays or labels their donation.

What about tax deductions?

The HHS buildings, the Depot and the Section Tool House, are owned and operated by the Town of Hardwick and operated as a public trust institution. Your gift may qualify as a charitable deduction for federal income tax purposes. The Deed of Gift transfers ownership of the donation to the HHS; it also serves as a tax receipt. The HHS advises you to seek the counsel of a tax professional.

Can you tell me how much something I own is worth?

No. The IRS prohibits the HHS from providing any information on the value (real or perceived) of any object(s). To locate an appraiser, consider contacting the Appraisers Association of America or the American Society of Appraisers. Also, there are books available within specific subject domains that describe market prices.

What if I have documents but not objects?

The HHS has a large collection of a wide variety of flat items — just look at the lists of our images, our vertical files, our bound materials, our tubed documents, and our manuscript collections . We happily accept documents. While no museum needs more than one or two examples of locally produced beverage bottles, the archives can use as many diaries as it can find within its mission statement. The bottler filled thousands of bottles — all of them the same — but only one person filled a particular diary — each is unique.

Will you keep my donation forever?

Collections staff periodically assess the collection and may elect to remove selected artifacts. Criteria for removal include: holdings that no longer serve the HHS’s mission, duplicate holdings, holdings that present a hazard, holdings we cannot adequately store or preserve, and holdings which have components that physically deteriorate over time. The decision to remove items requires approval by the Collections Committee and is never taken lightly.  Materials removed from the collection cannot be returned to donors, but may be transferred to other museums or sold to fund the care of other parts of our collections.

Where and when will you display my donation?

The Hardwick Historical Society actively collects objects today for display far into the future. With rare exception, the HHS will not immediately display a donation and makes no guarantee that your donated artifact(s) will be displayed at any particular time. When the HHS develops an exhibition, staff reviews the artifacts available and chooses those items that best suit the exhibition’s theme and messages. However, all donations are cataloged and stored, and are accessible to the public doing research.