Collection Policy
Henry County Historical Society

Of all the services that historical societies perform, none is more important than that of saving historical records, photographs and artifacts that document the past. We are helping to preserve the collective memory of our community. WE cannot fully understand who we are as a community or as individuals if we don’t understand who we were as a community, and what it once meant to be a member of that community. We have pledged to preserve our local history and it is a serious responsibility. Collecting, maintaining and providing access to the collection involves significant costs. We don’t have the resources or physical space to collect every object from the past. We must decide which records to actively collect, which records to accept if offered for donation, and which records to decline. This Collection Policy is an important tool that will help the Society make these decisions.   

Purpose of the Collection

The Henry County Historical Society (HCHS) is a non-profit organization and its purpose is to the collect, preserve, hold/exhibit, interpret and demonstrate relics and artifacts and all historical sites that will serve to illustrate and promote the history of Henry County, Ohio. To fulfill such purpose, the Society will support, operate and maintain facilities with professional standards of operation for its collection.

Objectives of the Collection

  • Promote interest in history and conduct basic research.
  • Collect, preserve, classify and exhibit artifacts of history that would otherwise be destroyed or lost.
  • Develop and maintain a museum(s) as an asset to the community as well as a tourist, historical and educational attraction.
  • Interview early pioneers still living, and record their experiences and recollections.
  • Arrange for educational lectures, workshops and tours, and make use of available traveling exhibits
  • Care for, exhibit and store artifacts as recommended by OAHSM or other professional organizations.

Focus of the Collection

Scope of Collection

The Society will collect historical materials in a variety of formats. The formats include, but are not limited to: manuscripts, books and other written and printed materials; photographs, prints, paintings and other visual materials; tapes, recordings and other oral history materials; equipment, furnishings, clothing and other natural, commercial, institutional and personal objects of the past. They must be relevant and consistent with the purpose of the organization. The collection shall include all time periods, including the current era. Objects acquired by the HCHS shall relate to the history of Henry County and will have historic value, which depends on the documentation available, and their physical condition. Objects that lack complete documentation may be collected as long as they contribute to a clearer understanding of the history of Henry County. The Society will collect reproductions, which represent artifacts for an effective, educational method.

Function of the Collection

Collection is defined by an entirety of objects acquired, accessioned and preserved because of their historic significance and educational value. Artifacts belonging to the historical society which may be used in accurately portraying the life and times of the people of Henry County. These collections form a basis for the continuing research of our past.

The Society shall maintain two collection categories: Permanent and Education.

    1. Permanent Collection

Contains all items of unique importance to the interpretation of Henry County. Consists of original, rare or often irreplaceable historical artifacts to be preserved for future generations. They are related to a specific structure belonging to the Society. These can be placed in a specific historic period. The environment in which the artifacts are kept, the kind and amount of conservation they might receive, and the use to which they may be put are the responsibility of the Preservation Committee. They must be preserved and may be exhibited.

    2. Education Collection

Contains all items adapted into active use (used without restriction), hands-on demonstrations and educational functions. Consists of replicas, modern reproductions, restorations, and some period artifacts. Every effort is made to prolong the life of artifacts in the Education Collection by according them the same secure environments as artifacts in the Permanent Collection, and by training the volunteers in proper methods of handling and care. Use may affect their condition, so artifacts may be restored and repaired to help prolong their interpretive life. Acknowledges that artifacts used in interpretive programs need not be historic artifacts, but that accurate reproductions have a place with interpretation and must be managed with the overall system.

  • This collection could consist of duplicates of items in the permanent collection or items without significant importance or lesser historic value to the interpretation of Henry County. Whenever possible reproductions or other substitutes are used rather than original artifacts. Use, wear, breakage and possible loss of these items is expected.
  • Items may be common and readily available on the market for purchase or by donation to the Preservation Committee.
  • Items that are part of the Educational Collection shall have an “E” as part of the accession number. A list of all educational items shall be kept separately from the Permanent Collection records. The Educational Collection shall be maintained separately from the Permanent Collection.

Collection Strategy or Tactics

The Society’s collection strategy will serve to illustrate and promote the history of Henry County. To this end, the Society will collect and acquire books, manuscripts, maps, documents and records pertaining to the county. This strategy should be reviewed every year.

Enlarge existing Collection

  • Agriculture (mainly hand tools)
  • Archives (photos, ledgers, receipts, journals, Holgate Review newspapers)
  • Clothing/Textiles (quilts, clothing)
  • Education (school books, yearbooks from many of the Henry County Schools, Emmanuel Lutheran One Room Schoolhouse)
  • General Store
  • Government/Law (courthouse)
  • Heller-Aller Company
  • Medical (instruments, etc)
  • Military
  • Music (pianos, instruments, radios)
  • Native Americans
  • Oral History
  • Photography
  • Pioneer Life (Log Cabin 1840-1860)
  • Victorian Era (Dr. Bloomfield Home 1879-1925)

Extending the Collection

  • Businesses
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Events and Celebrations
  • Family Histories
  • Folk Life
  • Industries
  • Organizations

Collection Theme

Theme(s) of the collection have been constructed to show the types of structures and to tell the stories of of Henry County society in the ways that it lived in the past.

The collection themes for the Society's sites are:

  • The Log Cabin at the Henry County Fairgrounds is the history of Henry County’s rural settlers from the 1830s. Featured activities will be cooking, cleaning, chores, etc.
  • The Emmanuel Lutheran One Room Schoolhouse at the Henry County Fairgrounds will show the history of Henry County’s small towns, emphasizing the education of the early settlers.
  • The Dr. Bloomfield Home in Napoleon will emphasize the history of Henry County’s largest town during the years from 1879 to about 1925.
  • The Carriage House at the Dr. Bloomfield Home in Napoleon will house rotating displays from our extensive museum collection. Initially, we will feature a complete general store with authentic items from Henry County; 'Boney' Nelson's vast collection of Indian artivacts; items from county manufacturers, such as Foster Canning, Napleon Products, Heller-Aller Company, among others.

Additions to the Collection

Acquisition is defined as the discovery, preliminary evaluation, taking physical and legal custody of, and acknowledging receipt of, materials and objects, for the purpose of this policy.

Transfer of Ownership

When purchasing an item there is little question of who owns the physical item. Gifts and donations are slightly more complicated. Each transfer of private property to the Society should be clearly documented. The Henry County Historical Society must receive ownership of all acquisitions without restriction on future use or disposition. The documentation process demonstrates the Society’s commitment to provide appropriate care and management for the materials received. It records the particulars of the transaction and establishes that the Society has become legal owner of the materials that the Society has accepted. This form is called “Deed of Gift” or Certificate of Gift. Both donor and the society will receive signed copies of the form for their files. The acquisition is made and ownership assumed at the time this form is signed by the donor and a member of the Preservation Committee. A Certificate of Gift Form or a Will that transfers unrestricted ownership rights must accompany each donation to the Henry County Historical Society.

Income Tax Deduction

Donors desiring to take an income tax gift deduction must obtain an independent appraisal from an authorized appraiser. Records of such appraisals will be kept by the Henry County Historical Society in perpetuity. The Society (Board of Trustees members and volunteers) or persons professionally associated with the Society will not make appraisals of prospective donations for tax purposes, or place a monetary value on materials or on objects donated to the Society, but may suggest the names of several knowledgeable appraisers. It is acknowledged by the Society that to make appraisals would involve undesirable and unnecessary entanglements with the Internal Revenue Service and/or create other legal entanglements not desirable to the Society’s interests.

Authority to Add Items to the Collection

The Preservation Committee will approve temporary acceptance of, and assume responsibility for, donations to the collection pending final approval by the Board of Trustees. For the purpose of purchase, authorization to acquire items with a value of less than $50.00 is delegated to the Preservation Committee. The purchase of materials or objects having an estimated market value of more than $50.00 shall be approved formally or informally by the Executive Committee prior to acceptance or purchase.

Gifts – HCHS by laws

Sec. 1. The Board of Trustees shall have sole authority to accept or reject on behalf of the Society, each contribution, gift, devise or bequest, of whatever kind, which amounts to, or has a value of $150.00, or more, and to specify the disposition to be made of such gift.

Sec. 2 The Board of Trustees shall have sole authority to approve, or disapprove limiting conditions placed upon any contribution, gift, devise or bequest made to the Society, and to reject any such contribution, gift, devise, desirable or compliance therewith is difficult or impossible.

Criteria for Acceptance

All donations are considered outright and unconditional gifts to be used at the discretion of the Society. Donations will not be accepted with the understanding that they be permanently exhibited or be subject to reclaim by the donor or the donor’s heirs. An item can be returned to the donor when specific instructions are made in the Certificate of Gift Form and prior approval is given by the Board of Trustees.

Items may be acquired through donation, bequest, exchange or purchase; solicited or unsolicited; field collection and/or abandonment. All legal, moral and ethical implications of the acquisition must be considered before acceptance of the acquisition(s). Donors will be asked to supply documentation that is as complete as possible, including a chronological history of the acquisition(s) and its owners. Any item lacking documentation or having doubtful source of origin shall be accepted only if it’s historical significance can be verified. No items shall be knowingly or willfully accepted or acquired which are known to have been illegally collected in the United States contrary to state or federal law, regulation, treaty and/or convention. Duplicates will only be accepted in order to upgrade the permanent collection or to be placed into the education collection. The Society shall refuse to acquire items where there is cause to believe that the circumstances of their collection involved needless destruction of historic sites, buildings, structures, habitats, districts and objects. When, in the judgment of the Preservation Committee, portions of block acquisitions are not consistent with the intended purposes of the collection, the block of artifacts will be sorted prior to the accessioning process and assumption of absolute title. Artifacts not desired by the Society will be returned to the owner(s). No member may obligate the Society to the acceptance of any material or object not consonant with the intent or spirit of the collection policy.

Relevance

Materials and objects must be relevant to and consistent with the purposes and activities of the Society and within the scope of the collection, collection strategy (tactics) as stated in this Collection Policy.

Condition

Except in cases of extreme significance, artifacts must be in good, stable physical condition.

Documentation

A source of origin, documentation or other evidence of authenticity must accompany each item and include a chronological history of the object and its owners. Or have connection to currently existing acquisitions within the collections.

Storage or Display (protection and maintenance)

Acquisitions that could be dangerous to the staff or the collection or cannot be properly cared for will not be accepted by the Society.

Sample Appraisal Questions

Did the donor create the material? Does the material fall within our collecting area? Who created the records? Why were the records created? Do the records provide information beyond this initial purpose? Is this information available somewhere else? Do we have similar materials already? Does it document prominent citizens and/or everyday folks? How complete are the records? How large is the collection?

Management

The Society regards the preservation and conservation of its collection as a matter of utmost importance. The Society will provide its Permanent Collection with a clean, safe and stable storage and exhibit environment suitable for the maintenance of the physical integrity of the artifacts. Permanent artifacts should be housed in secure, climate-controlled environments. The Society will preserve artifacts in the condition they were in at the time of their acquisition.

Registration

Registration involves compiling and maintaining a cumulative record of all artifacts in the historical society’s collection. There are five basic areas:

  1. Accessioning - recording and/or processing an acquisition to the Society
  2. Cataloguing - classifies artifacts with descriptive detail, much value of item depends on data recorded during this time
  3. De-accessioning - removing an artifact from the collection by legal means
  4. Inventorying - periodically locating and listing accessioned, loaned or borrowed artifacts
  5. Loans - contracting to borrow or lend artifacts for temporary periods

Accessioning

An Accession is an artifact or group of artifacts acquired from a single source at one time. To Accession is to legally record an addition to the collection. Accessioning is defined as the process of accepting items into permanent collections of the Society. All items shall be processed under procedures and policies adopted by the Board of Trustees. It is the responsibility of the Preservation Committee to simultaneously obtain the artifacts and a signed donor form. After the artifact is accepted, an accession number assigned, both Permanent and Educational, it must be formally accessioned.

All museum items shall be assigned accession numbers and shall be indexed by category, date of acquisition and by name with suitable cross reference collection records, including source, location and subject cards, as well as accession files and accession book shall be kept in accordance with accepted professional standards. Duplicate copies of records will be kept in a safe place off-site. In the case of computerized accessioning, a duplicate disc shall be kept on-site and one off site.

Items in need of restoration shall be restored as soon as possible, but shall be performed only by qualified professionals or someone knowledgeable in using approved techniques and substances.

Certificate of Gift agreements shall be made for all property received. A letter of thanks to the donor with a copy of the Certificate of Gift agreement will serve as the official receipt for the donor’s purposes. The Certificate of Gift agreement will set forth an adequate description of the items involved and the conditions of transfer.

Inventory

To ensure that all portions of the collections are checked periodically, an inventory schedule shall be established. This is an opportunity to review the collection, examine the condition, update catalog information and accession records, correct errors and omissions and verify location. Also allows for the detection of missing artifacts.

Record Maintenance

Records form an integral part of an artifact’s history and are of primary importance in understanding the artifact. Records also provide the means by which the Society establishes its right to legally possess an item, either through permanent ownership or loan. It allows us to classify and catalog artifacts to know their history, condition and location. The Society must document and account for the artifacts for which it has assumed responsibility. These records will be regarded as public documents, therefore be open for public inspection, upon a request to the Preservation Committee.

The Society shall maintain a responsible system of recording accessions, de-accessions and loans. Duplicate collection records shall be maintained off-site on archival paper to ensure their preservation. These documents include but are not limited to the following:

  • Registration List
  • Accession Inquiry Form
  • Certificate of Gift Form-Includes a description of donation, transfer of all rights from the donor to the HCHS and is signed and dated by the donor and a member of the Preservation Committee.
  • Accession Form-Includes the accession number, date of the acquisition, condition, description, historic information and the location of donation as well as donor information.

Annual Report

A detailed report shall be submitted annually to the Board of Trustees by the Preservation Committee including items accessioned, de-accessioned and loans. The report will cover the preceding calendar year.

Authority- Constitution page 3 The Collections Committee shall make a detailed report to the Trustees in February or March of each year, and to the membership at the annual meeting each year.

Controlled Access

In keeping with standards for preservation of the permanent collection, access to the items will be controlled.

Access to the collections is secondary to preservation of the collections. Artifacts on display shall be protected from handling by the general public (i.e. Do Not Touch signs, cordoned areas, glass cabinets, etc.). Items shall be stored in a manner to provide optimum security, accessibility and preservation. Items, whether in use or in storage, shall be protected from life shortening forces such as excessive heat, cold, humidity, dryness, dust, ultra-violet light, insects, vermin or improper handling.

The Society may make the collection available to researchers or other special cases but only following acknowledgement and supervision from the Preservation Committee. The viewing will be done in the presence of a member of that committee for the duration of the viewing.

Only those persons approved by the Board of Trustees, acting on recommendation from the Preservation Committee, shall handle, transport and have physical access to the collections.

Persons wishing to use objects or archival materials for profit making ventures must adhere to all copyright designations and enter into a licensing agreement with the Society.

Loans

Accepting loaned items and releasing items for a loan will be for a specific time period or event and will be recorded appropriately with the Preservation Committee. A member of the committee and the second party to the loan must sign a Loan Form. The owner must carry insurance on all items borrowed. The borrower shall incur all expenses (shipping, etc.). All loans will be handled through the committee, but final approval will be by the Board of Trustees.

Outgoing Loans

  • The Society may lend items from its collection to organizations only, not individuals or society members, for temporary display or educational purposes off-site if such locations offer reasonable security and proper environmental conditions. The Preservation Committee will need a site evaluation done prior to approval any loans.
  • Books, periodicals, maps and manuscripts owned by the Society may not be loaned for any reason except with approval of the Board of Trustees.
  • The Society shall not loan any item for more than 30 days, unless approved by the Board of Trustees.
  • If the borrower sustains injury from the use of any item(s) borrowed from the Society, said Society, its officers, trustees or members or holdings (financial or otherwise) shall NOT be held liable. The borrower fully understands that he/she borrows Society property at his/her own risk.

Incoming Loans

  • All items borrowed shall be subject to the same criteria as permanent acquisitions.
  • The HCHS (officers, trustees or members) shall not be held responsible if the borrower sustains injury from the use of any item(s) borrowed from the HCHS, said Society nor its museum, employees, officers or members nor holdings (financial or otherwise) shall not be held liable.
  • The Society shall not borrow items for longer than six months, unless approved by the Board of Trustees.
  • Items loaned to the Society shall not be incorporated into the permanent or education collections.

Removals from the Collection

Working with historical objects and records is not a one way process of adding more and more items to a collection. De-accessioning is the process of removing permanently from the collection items that have already been accessioned.

Criteria for Removal

  • The item is outside the scope or irrelevant to the purposes of the Society and its Collection Policy and fits the scope of another museum or organization better.
  • It is duplicated by a better or more representative example of the same type or class of material and is without intrinsic value.
  • It has deteriorated physically so that it is no longer useful and has failed to retain its identity or authenticity or has been lost or stolen and remains lost for longer than two (2) years.
  • The item is not significant and cannot be used for research, exhibition or loan.
  • The item has doubtful potential utilization in the foreseeable future, or has accidentally been accessioned twice.
  • The item is dangerous to the safety of the collection and/or staff members.
  • The Society can no longer properly preserve or care for the object.

Procedure

Items shall be de-accessioned only upon the recommendation in writing of the Preservation Committee to the Board of Trustees. Upon approval of a majority of the Board of Trustees present at a regular or special meeting the item shall be officially de-accessioned. The minutes shall reflect the decision.

If the accessioned item was purchased by the Society, it may be disposed of in whatever manner the Board of Trustees deems appropriate and most beneficial to the institution. It may be sold by bid, traded, offered at public auction, given outright or discarded.

If the de-accessioned item was donated to the Society, consideration will be given to placing the object, through gift, exchange or sale in another tax exempt educational institution. De-accessioned items not disposed of in this manner normally will be sold at an advertised public auction and only in a manner that will protect the interests, objectives and legal status of the institution.

The Society does not sanction the sale or gift of de-accessioned items to its officers or trustees, or to their representatives. No Board of Trustees member or representative of a Board of Trustees member may bid on, purchase or receive any de-accessioned material from the Society’s collections.

For material for which the Society owns no clear title, all methods of locating the donor of heirs must be exhausted before that material can be de-accessioned.

All funds derived from public sale and/or disposition of de-accessioned materials shall be used only for the acquisition, preservation and maintenance of the Society’s collections. Proceeds may not be used for general operating expenses.

An item can be returned to donor when specific instructions are made in the Certificate of Gift Form and prior approval is accepted from the Board of Trustees.

Abandoned Property Act? State of Ohio…

Collection Restrictions?

Changes to the Collection Policy

Changes to the Collection Policy will be necessary to conform with recommended changes made by the Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums (OAHSM) or other professional organizations relating to the collection of artifacts. Changes may also be needed to update and/or revise Society policies on collections and policies in keeping with the Society’s functions and purposes.

Changes to the Collection Policy must be in the form of a written recommendation with an accompanying explanation for the changes by the Preservation Committee or the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees will only approve changes with the majority vote at any one of its regular meetings.

Glossary

Accessioning is defined as the process of accepting items into permanent collections of the Society.

Acquisition is defined as the discovery, preliminary evaluation, taking physical and legal custody of and acknowledging receipt of materials and objects, for the purpose of this policy.

Registration List

Accession Inquiry Form

Certificate of Gift Form - Includes a description of donation, transfer of all rights from the donor to the HCHS and is signed and dated by the donor and a member of the Preservation Committee.

Accession Form - Includes the accession number, date of the acquisition, condition, description, historic information and the location of donation as well as donor information.

De-accessioning is the process of removing permanently from the collection items that have already been accessioned

Accessioning - recording and/or processing an acquisition to the Society

Cataloguing - classifies artifacts with descriptive detail, much value of item depends on data recorded during this time

De-accessioning - removing an artifact from the collection by legal means

Inventorying - periodically location and listing accessioned, loaned or borrowed artifacts by location

Loans - contracting to borrow or lend artifacts for temporary periods

Collection is defined by an entirety of objects acquired, accessioned and preserved because of their historic significance and educational value.