1. Harry S. Truman
  2. Library Collections
  3. Collection Policy and Donating Materials

Collection Policy and Donating Materials

Archival Collection Development

The primary objective of the acquisitions program is to increase the research potential of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. We collect materials relating to the life and career of Harry S. Truman; materials of his family and of persons who were his friends and associates in his public and private life; materials of business, religious, political, or other organizations in which he participated actively; materials relating to national and international affairs during Truman's presidency; and materials of people and organizations who served in his administration and in the Executive Branch of the Government. We also collect materials created by media organizations who were covering President Truman’s career.

Our interest is in original, primary source documents, manuscripts, photographs, sound recordings, and moving images.

Factors to be considered in establishing acquisition priorities include: the historical value of the materials; the relationship of the donor/creator to President Truman; and the donor/creator's role in significant historical events. Acquired materials may document all aspects of President Truman's life and career and need not be limited to his tenure as President.

The Library’s collections include materials documenting the Korean War from the time of hostilities and its immediate aftermath (1950-1953). The library may accept Korean War materials if they:

  • Document the daily activities of the participant and his/her reason for being in Korea;
  • Are accompanied by descriptions or information about the materials that can place them in context (who/what/where/when);
  • Are primary source materials, such as letters, maps, photographs, sound recordings, and/or home movies; and
  • The materials are clear, in good condition, and have research value.

The Library will not accept more than 40 Korean War images from a single donor and may dispose of (and not return) any excess images or materials that do not meet our collection standards.

The Library does not acquire copies of primary source materials that exist elsewhere.

Secondary Sources

While the Truman Library seeks to be the repository of first resort for Truman primary source archival materials, this is not the case with secondary source print materials. If you’d like to donate secondary source material, please keep these guidelines in mind:

  • We accept Truman-related books if we do not already have them;
  • We usually only accept printed materials if they’re contained in larger archival collections; and
  • We usually only accept published or unpublished works (including theses and dissertations) if they incorporate research done at the Truman Library.

Donating Your Materials

Thank you for your interest in donating archival materials to the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. Because unsolicited donations may be returned or disposed of without notice, we ask potential donors to contact our archivists before sending any items to the Library:
Voicemail line: 816-268-8272
Archives mailing address: Archives Acquisitions, Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, 500 W. US Highway 24, Independence, MO  64050

We ask that you provide a detailed description of the material you wish to donate, the quantity, and your contact information. If possible, please provide images or scans of the material being offered.

All donation offers are handled during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 4:30) and must be reviewed by Library staff before they can be accepted. A member of the archives staff will respond to your offer within ten business days if the material you wish to donate meets our collection development guidelines.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What don’t you accept?
A: We generally do not accept the following categories of materials:

  • Newspapers, journals, magazines, or personal libraries;
  • Tributes, poems, songs, or other personal reminiscences;
  • Mass-produced materials such as inauguration invitations and campaign buttons;
  • Photocopies or digital facsimiles of original materials (including those from other archives);
  • News clipping scrapbooks;
  • Materials that are too fragile to service to researchers or require extensive conservation; materials that have mold, mildew, pest, or other potentially harmful infestations; or organic materials.

Q: How much is my material worth? Is it authentic?
A: As a federal institution, the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library cannot authenticate materials, provide monetary appraisals or assessments, or recommend individual appraisers. If you would like to have your materials appraised, you must do so prior to donating them to the Library. The following websites provide the names of certified appraisers throughout the country:
Q: I have something for sale, will you buy it?
A: We have a small acquisitions budget that is available to the Library for the purchase of archival materials. Because that budget is small, we must be very selective about what we choose to buy.
Q: Do I need to sign anything?
A: We may ask you to complete a formal deed of gift or to provide a written statement confirming your intent to donate the materials. We do not accept materials for temporary loan or deposit, and materials donated to the Truman Library become the physical property of the United States. Donors are also expected to transfer to the United States all copyrights they hold in the materials, making them public domain.
Q: How will I know you received my donation?
A: All pre-approved donations will be acknowledged formally upon receipt, usually by letter or by e-mail. Please note that unsolicited donations may not be acknowledged.
Q: Will my donation be exhibited?
A: We cannot guarantee that donations will be placed on display and we are unable to accept donations requiring that stipulation.