Donating materials

The GLBT Historical Society is happy to consider new donations that support the mission of the organization. If you have materials you may be considering donating to us, please read our Collection Development Policy below and contact the Director of Archives and Special Collections, Kelsi Evans.

Collection Develoment Policy

Collecting Scope

The GLBTHS Dr. John P. De Cecco Archives and Special Collections (GLBTHS-ASC) focuses on LGBTQ life, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California. Current collection strengths include the history of gay liberation and LGBTQ movements from the 1950s to the 2000s; lesbian and gay life prior to the 1970s; the history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic; the social, political, and cultural history of gay men, lesbians, and transgender people; queer periodicals and ephemera; and LGBTQ art and performance materials. Collections include personal papers, publications, organizational records, diaries, scrapbooks, photographs, erotica, audiovisual recordings, artifacts, oral histories, and works of art.

GLBTHS-ASC is happy to consider new donations that support the mission of GLBTHS. We are interested in material that further develops our existing collection strengths and material that documents underrepresented areas. We are particularly interested in material about:

  • LGBTQ life prior to the 1970s

  • LGBTQ people of color

  • Transgender and intersex history, individuals, and organizations

  • Underserved and underrepresented LGBTQ communities, such as people with disabilities, low-income individuals and those experiencing homelessness

  • Lesbians and bisexual women and men

  • LGBTQ community-based organizations, including those related to health, faith, politics, and education

Materials fitting the GLBTHS-ASC collecting scope must be unique and of enduring historical significance. All potential donations will be reviewed and evaluated by professional archival staff. Unique materials are typically found in collections of unpublished personal and organizational records that contain correspondence, original writings and creative works, reports, administrative files, audiovisual materials, photographs, singular artifacts, and ephemera such as pamphlets, bulletins, and posters. Rare periodicals may also be considered. Historical significance is considered broadly and evaluated in terms of the materials’ documentation of unique perspectives, relative availability in other repositories, research and exhibit value, rareness, and other factors. 

Published materials and copies of materials available elsewhere, including printed matter such as books, popular magazines and newspapers, clippings, and commercially produced audio or video recordings, are typically outside of our collecting scope. 

In addition to our focus on collecting archival material of research value, GLBTHS-ASC also supports the creation of dynamic exhibitions at the GLBT Historical Society Museum. To this end, we are interested in material that both furthers the mission of GLBTHS and demonstrates particular exhibit value.

The GLBT Historical Society Archives and Special Collections:

  • Does not accept materials for which the donor's ownership is in question or disputed.

  • Does not accept materials that are irreparably damaged or infested by insects or mold.

  • Does not accept duplicate materials.

  • Does not accept materials on deposit.

  • Will make a good faith effort to review material for protected personal information, including medical and personnel records, and will take appropriate action to restrict access according to any applicable laws and professional standards. 

  • May not accept collections for which GLBTHS-ASC is unable to care for and/or provide access to due to space, staffing, or technological limitations.

  • Recognizes that the papers of an individual or the records of an organization should be kept together. If another repository already stewards a substantial number of papers or records of an individual or organization, we would recommend that related materials be donated to that institution.

  • Will review born-digital material on a case-by-case basis.

Collections Policy

Collection donations are accepted by GLBTHS-ASC staff after a formal review process. Collection donations are not accepted at the GLBT Historical Society Museum. Unsolicited donations may be discarded at the discretion of GLBTHS-ASC staff.

When a collection donation is formally accepted, a Deed of Gift must be administered by GLBTHS-ASC staff and signed by the donor. The Deed of Gift specifies the materials to be donated, transfers ownership to GLBTHS, and provides instruction regarding copyright transfer and material disposal. It is not standard practice for GLBTHS-ASC to compensate donors for materials.

GLBTHS-ASC continues to grow through gifts and support from generous donors. Any material accepted commits us to the task of arranging and preserving it, which involves labor and costs for archival supplies. Donors are encouraged to consider an additional monetary donation to fund the cost of processing and preservation.

Deaccessioning is the process of permanently removing items from the collection after they have been evaluated by qualified staff. Materials determined to be out of collecting scope or duplicates may be transferred to a more appropriate repository, returned to the donor, or discarded.

The GLBT Historical Society Archives and Special Collections Collection Development Policy will be reviewed and evaluated regularly to ensure that it remains in alignment with the GLBTHS mission and professional standards.


Photo: Campaign materials, 1961, José Sarria papers (1996-01), GLBT Historical Society