Elkhart County Historical Museum Donation Policy

Mission Statement
The Elkhart County Historical Society’s mission is to tell the ongoing story of Elkhart County by building lasting connections to history.

Interested in a Donation to the ECHS? 

Thank you! We are so glad you thought of us. The Elkhart County Historical Society (ECHS) relies on generous donations from people like you to enhance its collections.


How do I go about donating an item to the ECHS’s collection?
Items must meet the following criteria in order to be accepted for the collection:

  • The objects must meet the mission statement (see statement above).
  • Objects must have a solid connection to the Elkhart County area. It is preferred that objects have an interesting story to tell about Elkhart County residents, places and events.
  • Items must be in good condition. The museum does not have the resources to repair or conserve new items coming in to the collection.
  • Books may be accepted if they meet our mission, enhance our ability to research existing collections, relate to the history of Elkhart County, or are by resident authors.
  • Items that do not meet our mission may be accepted for our education collection. These are items that can be handled and are expected to be “used up”. Please contact the Curator of Education, at 574-848-4322, to donate items to our education collection.
  • Duplicate items will only be accepted if the new item provides a more interesting story or if existing items are in poor condition.
  • Objects must be approved by the Collections Committee in order to be accepted as a donation to the permanent collection.

Please call 574-848-4322 or e-mail Curator of Collections, Michelle Nash (, to discuss potential donations.

Where will my donated item be exhibited?
The ECHS's collections are housed at the Elkhart County Historical Museum. The museum maintains collection items on exhibit or in our state of the art climate controlled storage facility. The items on display throughout the museum are determined by the staff members. The museum cannot guarantee when or where specific items will be exhibited. Please contact the Museum Manager, at 574-848-4322, to present your exhibition idea.

How much is my item worth?
To find out more information about your item, including evaluation of condition, authenticity, and value, you will need to contact an appraiser who specializes in the type of material you have. Museum staff cannot provide appraisal information to you for ethical and legal reasons. To find an appraiser near you, try contacting one of the following organizations:

Does the ECHS purchase objects?
We rely mostly on donated material and use our funds to preservation the collections. You are welcome to submit an inquiry to the museum about purchasing your object. The inquiry should be sent in letter format or e-mail, and must include an image of the object, the asking price, a detailed description including condition, and provenance information. All purchases must be approved by the museum staff and ECHS Board.

Will the ECHS take my object on loan if I don’t want to donate it?
Many institutions and individuals have generously loaned their items to the ECHS. However, with rare exceptions, the museum does not accept loaned items for reasons other than immediate exhibition purposes. Please contact the Museum Manager, at 574- 848-4322, to present your exhibition idea.

If the ECHS doesn't want it, what can I do with it?
Other family members might be interested in having it – it couldn't hurt to ask! There may be other museums who would love to have your item. The Indiana Historical Society has a directory listing that will help you search for topical museums or museums in other locations. You might also consider donating the items to a school, university, retirement community, or theater. If you are interested in selling your item, you could try e-bay, an antique store, or auction house.

Well maybe I want to keep it after all. Can the ECHS repair my item?
The museum staff can give you advice about the proper care and storage of your item, but we are not qualified to repair or treat your item. Conservators are trained specialists who are hired by museums and the public to properly repair items while retaining their historic integrity. The Indiana Historical Society has a Conservator List of private conservation labs and services in the region. If you would like to know more about basic preservation of your items, please contact Michelle Nash, Curator of Collections at 574-848-4322 or