Skip to main content
Maine Historical Society



Donating Historical Items

Note on Appraisals

As a cultural institution and 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 a donation appraised before any material is donated to MHS.


All Acquisitions must be compatible with our stated mission: "Maine Historical Society preserves and shares Maine's story to enrich life in contemporary Maine."

Helen Bancroft Hay's cameo-button striped dress, Portland, ca. 1860

Helen Bancroft Hay's cameo-button striped dress, Portland, ca. 1860, from the collections of Maine Historical Society on

Documents and artifacts may 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. Relevance to the collection must be shown through its provenance or content, demonstrating its association to Maine's history. Materials may be collected that have documented associations to individuals, residences, businesses and other organizations that are or have been active within what is now known as Maine.

Materials without documentation may 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 clothing and textiles, decorative arts, material culture, 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. Collections pertaining to the Wadsworth and Longfellow families, and Wadsworth-Longfellow House are signature aspects of the collection.

Library and archival 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 select audio/visual materials.

World War I recruiting poster, 1917

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

Preference is given to acquisitions in the following areas: works of non-fiction concerning Maine history, biography and genealogy; works that document Maine's regional context, particularly in connection with New England and Eastern Canada; Maine related reference and research materials; manuscripts and printed matter pertaining to Maine's diverse social, economic, and religious history; records pertaining to Maine's historic architecture, landscape design or industry; Maine military history, social reform movements, and specialized history; photographic mediums, especially early photography; manuscript or specialty Maine cartographic materials; 18th and 19th century original newspapers, broadsides and imprints; and textiles and material culture as they pertain to existing collections. MHS is committed to diversifying its collections through community partnerships, focused initiatives, and collaboration.

Gifts to MHS are made without restriction, and the donor must have clear and legal title to the items. All title is transferred to MHS as part of the gift process, as copyright allows. Items are not accepted on deposit. MHS does not appraise or assign monetary value to historic items.

Contact Information - Archival, Library or Museum items

To potentially donate items, please email or contact Jamie Rice, MHS Deputy Director at (207) 774-1822 x219.

We kindly ask you have detailed object information and supporting materials available on hand when calling or include context and details in an email. We will gladly discuss materials with you, review donation procedures, and (when and if appropriate) make arrangements to see the collection in-person. If possible or appropriate, please consider emailing photographs of the collection items along with your inquiry.