The Fenton History Center collects objects, photographs and documents that illustrate the history and culture of Jamestown, New York and the surrounding region.
Building a museum collection is not the same as hobby collecting. Items have importance to a museum collection because of relevance to the museum’s mission, not because of monetary value. Something that does not meet the criteria set forth in the mission statement and collection policy will not be accessioned, not matter how fine or rare it may be.
The Fenton History Center collects items relating to Jamestown and southern Chautauqua County, although our genealogical library seeks information and books pertaining to the entire northeast United States.
Those interested in donating items may phone, e-mail or write in order to determine if the items fit the FHC collecting parameters. The provenance of an object is very important and all known information on the history, ownership and origin is of great value.
This information, along with donor information, is recorded onto a document known as a deed of gift. The collections manager then reviews the information and determines whether the item should be accepted as part of the museum collections. If determined to be not acceptable, the donor is notified and the item is returned. If it is accepted, the deed of gift is signed by a museum representative. A fully and properly executed deed of gift gives unrestricted ownership of the items. It is the museum’s responsibility, as well as the donor’s, to maintain documentation of donations
Upon acceptance, items are assigned an ID number and photographed and the information entered into a computerized record system. Most items are then placed in storage. Only a small percentage of a museum’s collection is on display at any given time. Prolonged exposure to light and environmental factors may fade, oxidize, corrode or otherwise damage most materials.
Occasionally items are accepted specifically for use in our education department. These are usually duplicates of other items that are already in the collections.
We eagerly accept photographs, preferably identified, and we will appreciate the opportunity to make copies of photographs that you want to keep. We also accept documents from businesses, organizations and individuals. These include ledgers, letters, bills, minutes, membership lists and customer lists. We would also make copies of these.
- Preserve objects, clothing, photographs and documents
- Display and interpret these items on a rotating basis
- Keep records of the collection for our reference and for the use of scholars and other interested persons
- Clean and maintain items in the collection
- Assist donors in locating appropriate repositories, in the event that an item offered does not fall within the guidelines of the collection policy
- Accept objects, clothing, photographs, documents, audio tapes, video tapes, films
- Credit borrowed items for specific exhibits
- Send traveling exhibits composed of facsimiles into the community
- Sell for profit
- Make or accept “permanent loans”
- Appraise (prohibited by IRS ruling)
- Repair or restore
- Erect permanent exhibits
- Install a plaque with a donor’s name on an object
- Loan collection items or costumes for plays, parties or any reason
- Make loans from the collection to individuals, private organizations or commercial enterprises