Maine Historical Society



Donate Historical Items

Temporary Collecting Moratorium May 2015-January 2016

Thank you for your interest in donating material to the Maine Historical Society. MHS will soon embark on a major collections relocation project as we shift selected museum and library collections to our new Collections Management Facility. This is an essential part of the ongoing stewardship of MHS collections and will significantly enhance our ability to lay the groundwork for the long-term care, development, and use of the collections as a whole.

Due to the complex nature of such a project and the resources required to undertake it, the Maine Historical Society will not be accepting gifts to its library or museum collections from May 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016. During the moratorium period, the MHS Library collections will be open and fully available for research. The MHS Museum collections will be closed.

If you have questions or need to part with your objects quickly, please do not hesitate to contact Chief Curator Kate McBrien, Director of Library Services Jamie Rice, or Registrar/Collections Manager Holly Hurd-Forsyth to discuss your options.

We look forward to working with you in the future, and to resuming the intake of new collections early in 2016!

Note on Appraisals

For the protection of the donor, MHS cannot conduct appraisals for tax purposes, nor can staff appraise items as a service to visitors. It is the responsibility of the donor to have the donation appraised before any material is donated to MHS. You may want to contact someone on this list of appraisers. This list is offered as a service, without endorsement.


All Acquisitions must be compatible with our stated mission: "…to preserve the heritage and history of Maine…"

Haskell Wedding dress

Haskell Wedding dress, from the collections of Maine Historical Society on

Documents and artifacts will be accepted if they are relevant to our collecting criteria, as outlined in the Society's Collections Policy, and do not duplicate a document or artifact already in the collection. The relevance to the collection must be shown through its provenance, defining its association to Maine's history. Materials can be collected that have documented associations to individuals, residences, businesses and other organizations that are or have been active within the boundaries of the State of Maine.

Materials without documentation can be collected if they can be proven to have been made in Maine. The more known about the object, such as "where and when was it made, and by whom?" and "who owned and/or used it and what was it used for?" the more likely it is that the object will find a home at the Maine Historical Society. It is extremely helpful to have all information relevant to the object's history and use in writing.

The museum holdings include costumes and textiles, decorative arts, Native American artifacts and archaeological material, political memorabilia, military objects, and domestic artifacts reflecting upon life in Maine. The diverse collection serves as the foundation for the Maine Historical Society exhibition program.

World War I recruiting poster, 1917

World War I recruiting poster, 1917, from the collections of Maine Historical Society on

Library holdings include, but are not limited to, books, newspapers, periodicals, manuscripts, archives, photographic materials, prints, broadsides, scrapbooks, maps, architectural and engineering drawings, research collections, and paper ephemera relating to the history of Maine and its people. The library also collects selected media formats such as microfilms, video tapes, DVDs, CD-ROMs and audio.

Preference is given to acquisitions in the following areas: works of non-fiction concerning Maine history, biography and genealogy; works that document and interpret Maine's regional content, particularly in connection with New England and eastern Canada; reference works that assist in the research, documentation, and interpretation of all aspects of Collections; and selective historical fiction relating to Maine.

Ideally, artifacts and collections should be stable and in good condition, and MHS must be able to provide adequate care as determined by established, professional standards.

Gifts to the Society will be made without restrictions, and the owner must have clear and legal title to that artifact, and that title must be transferred to MHS. Items are not accepted on deposit.

Contact Information - Museum Items

Kate McBrien
Chief Curator
Maine Historical Society
489 Congress Street
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 774–1822 x236

Contact Information - Library and Archival Materials

Jamie Rice
Director of Library Services
489 Congress Street
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 774–1822 x219

If you are considering making a donation, or have questions, please have the object information and supporting materials available when you call. We will discuss the material with you, review donation procedures, and in many cases make an appointment to see the material in person, or arrange for you to send a photograph of the material offered.