Donating Historic Items

From time to time, the Naval Historical Foundation facilitates the donation of historically significant naval items to repositories around the country. This includes photographs, uniforms, books, paperwork, and other physical artifacts. While the Foundation does not currently acquire new items for our own collection, we often play a part in ensuring the safe transfer of artifacts from private collections to proper archival institutions.

We are often asked what the best place is to donate and item. This is not an easy question, as it depends on the type of item, the period it is from, and the current holdings of archives and museums around the country. In general, unlabeled photographs, ships plaques, and ball caps are not desired by most collections. While each item will need to be assessed for condition, historical importance, and uniqueness, we thought it would be helpful to share this basic list of contacts that you might want to investigate if you you are thinking of making a donation.

Naval History and Heritage Command

The Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) is the U.S. Navy’s official history command, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., and museums located around the United States. NHHC’s facilities at the Washington Navy Yard house millions of paper documents and photographs, as well as the Navy Department Library which has a collection of thousands of rare and interesting books on naval history. NHHC also maintains a large material collection of artifacts including uniforms, weapons, and ship artifacts.

NHHC accepts donations from the public. If you have artifacts that are considering for donation to the U.S. Navy, please use the following contacts:

  • Photographs: Photo Archives, (202) 433-2765
  • Art: Navy Art Collection, (202) 433-3815
  • Books: Navy Department Library, (202) 433-4132
  • Physical Artifacts: Curator Branch, (202) 433-7873
  • Paper Documents: Operational Archives, (202) 433-3224

World War II Materials

The National Museum of the Pacific War is located in Fredericksburg, Texas, the boyhood home of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz. They collect items related to the Pacific campaign of World War II. Information on donating artifacts can be found here.

The National World War II Museum In New Orleans tells the story of the American experience during the war. Information on how to donate artifacts to the museum can be found here.

Vietnam Era Materials

The Vietnam Center and Archive at Texas Tech University has millions of pages of documents, photographs, and artifacts related to the Vietnam War. The accept donations from the public, information can be found here.

National Archives and Records Administration

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the official record keeping organization of the United States government. While the majority of their holdings come directly from the government itself, they do acquire selected relevant and important documentation and photography from private donors. They have pamphlets on their website regarding donation of photographs (here) and motion pictures (here). In general, NARA will not have an interest in acquiring materials from private donations, unless they are closely related to Federal records already in their custody. You can reach the NARA at 1-866-272-6272.

Library of Congress

The Foundation has a long standing relationship with the Library of Congress (LOC). The LOC is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress. It is also the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in its collections. The LOC does accept selected important items for donation, and provides instructions here on their website. Additionally, LOC runs the Veterans History Project which collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. If you have a firsthand account from a veteran, this is the place to go.

Other Navy and Military History Museums and Archives

There are many museums around the country which celebrate our Navy’s history, and which might be interested in a donation of your historic material. You may want to contact a museum or museum ship in your local area. If the items in question are from your service, or from the service of a family member, a local museum might be interested. You can find a full list of museums ships at the Historic Naval Ships Association website, complete with contact information for each of them. Additionally, you may want to try contacting the local NHHC museum in your area, a full list of which can be found here: Additionally, your local college or university may have a Special Collections department in their Library, which may be interested in items with a local connection.

Please note: The Naval Historical Foundation does not have the capability to appraise the value of donated items.

25 Responses to Donating Historic Items

  1. Berner Johnson says:

    My grandfather captained the LSM 473 in the S Pacific in World War II.
    I have his flag that flew on the ship. My plan for it was to frame full length and hang. As you probably know that is very expensive. I can not afford this and it deserves a much better place.
    I live by the Navy Yard in DC (1000 New Jersey Ave.). Before 9/16 I wanted to talk about donating it to the museum. It’s very dear to my family, but given everything I’d like have it in the Navy Yard. Pretty sure my grandfather would like that as well.
    If there is a curator that could contact me, I would greatly appreciate it.
    Thank you,

    • Admin says:

      Hi Bud, we’ll send you an email with contact info for NHHC curators.

    • Dan Woodul says:

      My grandfather was Executive Officer of the LSM-473. Did you ever donate the ships flag to the Navy Yard? I would certainly like to discuss LSM-473 history with you and share stories or photos. My grandfather remained good friends with your grandfather, Raymond, throughout their lives.
      Best Regards

  2. Brent Banchy says:

    I was a petty officer aboard the USS Shreveport LPD-12 from 1983-1986. While my ship was in the yards in NYC in early 1986 I noticed that the ships photoghapher was throwing out all the black and white 35ml negatives from ship events for the past three years. I removed them from the garbage can and still have them all these years later, all 400+ of them. Whom can I donate these histical negatives to? Instead of sitting under my stairs..

  3. Hi Dear,
    I have great pictures of several Navy events in black and whites. These pictures go back to the late 1950″s. I dearly relative was Mike Miller XO on Charleston, S.C. on 08-21-59. I have a great picture with Dic Davis (Eng), Walt Domagala (1st LT), Fred Forst (SO), Bill Wise(CO)and Mike Miller, I believe this picture was taken in front of submarine on Charleston, S.C.
    I also have one with Mike Miller and Governor Ralph Galgiey 1967. I have other great pics from Mike Miller Commander and other famous people that I do not know their names.
    I have a great pic from the US Navy Blue Angel Phantoms with of signatures dedicated to Commander Miller from the Blue Angels 1969.

    Please let me know, whom can I donate these. I would love to donate all these items to a museum on Mike Miller’s behalf. These items are very dear to my family and will do justice on a Navy Yard. Mike Miller dedicated 25 years to the Navy career and deserves to be in a Navy Historical locations.
    I can be contact at

  4. William R. Love, Jr. says:

    I have my father’s US Navy Class A uniform fro WW II/post war. he was in Navy from ’42 to ’47or ’48. Navy Supply Corps Company B. Served in Pacific on submarine tender. After war over, as a LT CDR, stationed at Brooklyn Navy Yard, and was responsible for surplussing 400 Navy Vessels. He was US Navy, not USN Reserve. Also have some photos, taken on ship. My father joined The Texas Company (Texaco) and retired as an officer of the company as Comptroller and Vice President. He was only Comptroller in company’s history that was also elected Vice President.
    Where might we donate this uniform? If no interest, please also advise.

    His name was William R Love. (1919-2009) He was from Chattanooga; entered Navy in Chicago where he was in graduate school at Northwestern University. He also attended Harvard Navy Supply School.

    Thank you.

    WR Love Jr

    Thank you.

  5. Lawrence Martin says:

    I have my fathers WW2 Wooden sea chest with several Navy Uniforms both white and navy inside. It has his name and rank stenciled on the outside and is in excellent condition. I would like to donate to an organization that would appreciate having
    these artifacts.
    Can you suggest someone?

    Thank you,

  6. Julie Silva says:


    I have several early 1950’s white mess cook’s uniforms that my father, Edward Baumann, Jr, wore aboard ship. Also a white loose woven bag with his name and P2 81 handwritten on it in black ink. I would like to donate these items. Is there any need for these everyday Navy items?


  7. Mark Gage says:

    I served aboard the flagship USS Eldorado AGC-11 that was decommissioned in 1972. I have quite a few items taken from this great ship such as a 1971 Ship’s Ensign, a 4 Star Admiral’s Flag that flew on the Eldorado in the 50s, a set of port & starboard bridge voice tubes, 2 1967 life preservers, the remnants of the after steering helm + many other artifacts from this great naval ship. I would like to have these items displayed some place to where others may enjoy looking at them. Any suggestions/ Thanks.

    • Billie Brobst says:

      Mark Gage,

      Did you serve in Virginia in the mid to late 70’s?We used to go camping with a Mr. Mark in Norfolk and I’m wondering if that is you. If so, we have been looking for many years for you.

  8. Paul Rotondi says:


    I worked for the Navy for almost 40 years and have an extended collection of caps from many ships.
    I would like to donate them but don’t know where, can you help? We are down sizing and don’t just want to throw out.

    Thank you.

  9. Jan Teale says:

    I have a hand written diary from L.R. De Steiguer U.S.SHIP ATLANTA hand written from his graduation, June 7th 1889 to the final entry describing target practice for the squadron of evolution, Flagship Chicago, March 3rd 1890. There are also 50+ photographs and several hand drawn boilers etc.
    Please contact me if you would be interested in seeing this.

  10. Kathy Dempsey says:

    My father-in-law served as the Ship’s doctor, Ship’s company, on the USS Independence during the Vietnam war in the 60’s early 70’s. Since his passing, we have patches from the various squadrons that he mounted and portraits/pictures of the Indy itself. Is there any interest in these and to whom should I contact? I appreciate your time and thank you.

  11. Ed Taft says:

    I have a 46 page Navy Recruiting booklet from 1959 entitled “Life in the United States Navy”. Is this something you could use?

  12. Patrick Cross says:

    As we prepare to move my Dad into assisted living, we are trying to figure out proper disposition of an enormous quantity of books, bound volumes of reports, photographs, engineering materials related to ships and aircraft, and so on. Nearly all U.S. Navy related – from many eras. A nearly complete collection of Janes Fighting Ships as well. Hundreds and hundreds of books, files, and documents. Can you advice as to where we might start? The collection is in the Alexandria, VA area. Thank you!

    • Jim Dolbow says:


      I would be interested in buying the Janes and naval history books for my personal library. Not to be re-sold just for my private research and ready access. I can be contacted at jimdolbow @

  13. Marsha Carter says:

    I have an “M.D. U.S.N.” otoscope from my dad who served in the Atlantic and Pacific during WW II. He was a career Navy doctor from 1941-61 in the field of Nuclear Medicine. My sister and I want to donate this medical instrument, but do not know who or what group might find it interesting. Our dad was Capt. (retired) E. Richard King, MD who spent most of his Navy career at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

  14. Stanley J. Serxner says:

    I have two WW l Navy Victory medals from my father, “The Great War for Civilization” one with the “transport bar” on it in fine condition which I wish to donate to the Naval Museum.
    However, when I tried to access the curator and other pages, a “Server Error – 404 File or Directory not found” came up.

    What’s my next step, please. (4/2/16}

  15. Elizabeth Balian says:

    My father in law served in the atlantic and south pacific coast guard during WWII. Is there a museum that would be interested in his uniforms?

  16. Ned says:

    My grandfather was stationed aboard the USS California in the early 20’s. I was given his memorabilia which includes many original photographs from places like Hawaii, Cuba, papua new guinea, etc. There are also wonderful shell back ceremony photographs from aboard the ship. In addition, a stack of the ships newspapers which was called “The California Club”. The book that holds most of these images seems to be leather with painted flowers on the front and an image of the USS California on the back.

  17. John says:

    My grgrandfather prominent naval officer that Graduated from Annapolis in 1897
    I have items that include his long naval career and misc photographs and when he attended the Naval Acdemy and various correspondence and personal items

    I feel strongly he would want items at Annapolis What is your relationship to Naval Acedemy. Why should items be donated to your museum instead of Annapolis

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