Donating historical works of Parents:

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Nowizard
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Donating historical works of Parents:

Post by Nowizard »

I have posted previously in this regard and am looking for any additional suggestions and possible follow-up by one responder associated with the University of Arkansas. Basically, my parents were prolific writers and photographers with a collection that one knowledgeable person stated exceeded anything in the Library of Congress. This specific item involved extensive interviews and photographic documentation of the ending generation of those living in Ozark log cabins. The work was completed in the 1950's, part of which is contained in a published book. Another example is that they were both among a few outsiders allowed to document activities of Japanese Americans incarcerated in an internment camp located in Arkansas. My sister and I have finally organized their work (Probably 500 hours for each of us) and are ready to donate it. There are no intentions of appraising the collection or seeking tax benefits from the donation, only preservation of a very wide range of items. Any suggestions from those who have been involved with such will be appreciated, including a response from a person I believe was married to someone involved with the University of Arkansas archive.

Tim
CascadiaSoonish
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Re: Donating historical works of Parents:

Post by CascadiaSoonish »

Have you reached out to an academic with a recent publication record in this specific area? They might have some ideas.

This isn't my domain in the slightest but speaking as someone with an interest in somewhat related historical Americana, this particular domain seems to be somewhat out of vogue and there's not a lot of funding out there to support collections or research.
fposte
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Re: Donating historical works of Parents:

Post by fposte »

I would reach out to the library at the university, particularly Special Collections; that’s likely who would make the decision about acquiring it, and they may have some thoughts on other sites that might be interested if they aren’t.
Mike Scott
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Re: Donating historical works of Parents:

Post by Mike Scott »

Professor of Ozarks Studies Brooks Blevins https://history.missouristate.edu/brblevins.aspx
trallium
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Re: Donating historical works of Parents:

Post by trallium »

There is a Facebook group call Archivists Thinktank that has professionals and students in this area as well as amateurs who are arranging family collections.
Tdubs
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Re: Donating historical works of Parents:

Post by Tdubs »

The obvious place to start is a call to UA's special collections archive.

It sounds like you have material related to the Rohwer internment camp. There is a museum in Arkansas on it, but you might also contact the National Archives if you think this is a particularly rich collection
Topic Author
Nowizard
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Re: Donating historical works of Parents:

Post by Nowizard »

Yes, contact with special collections is being made. Part of the reason for the post, in addition to possibly gaining new information, was to possibly find a prior responder to a prior post on the topic. There is new, helpful information posted. Thank you for responses. Others would be appreciated as well.

Tim
bbqguru
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Re: Donating historical works of Parents:

Post by bbqguru »

Missouri State University in Springfield just opened an "Ozarks Library" that they are filling with resources related to Ozarks area. They might have interest.
InMyDreams
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Re: Donating historical works of Parents:

Post by InMyDreams »

There is a recognition of the Arkansas Internment site, have you contacted them?
https://rohwer.astate.edu/plan-your-visit/museum/

If not them, then I wonder if a historical group could help locate a home or scholar, for example:
https://asiasociety.org/education/japan ... internment
Last edited by InMyDreams on Sat May 14, 2022 11:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
PeninsulaPerson
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Re: Donating historical works of Parents:

Post by PeninsulaPerson »

Nowizard wrote: Thu May 12, 2022 2:58 pm
... with a collection that one knowledgeable person stated exceeded anything in the Library of Congress.

Another example is that they were both among a few outsiders allowed to document activities of Japanese Americans incarcerated in an internment camp located in Arkansas.

These two points in your post caught my eye.

Have you considered seeing if you can get recommendations to a very solid non-local appraiser/auction house (yes, I am thinking NYC) to see if these precious-sounding materials could get some national museums bidding on them?

The thing that always strikes me about Antiques Roadshow is how often people spoke to local appraisers who had no idea of what they were dealing with. Maybe you have a national/international treasure on your hands. Maybe not, but right now it sounds like you don't know for sure.

You say you're not interested in an appraisal but appraisals aren't always about the money. A solid appraisal (or two!) would help you understand what you have. God bless the University of Arkansas and perhaps they're the right eventual home of your parents' archives. But what if it's more Smithsonian/National Archives level? What if the government of Japan is interested?!

And why give it for nothing - not even tax benefits - if the collection is truly yours to sell if you choose. You can always donate the proceeds. (It would be a shame if you gave it to the UofA, then they had it appraised and sold it at auction for big bucks!)

I guess another question is whether your goal is to just get rid of the stuff, or make sure it goes to a good home. Could be either!

Good luck - hope it works out perfectly for you, your sister and the archive!
Last edited by PeninsulaPerson on Fri May 13, 2022 12:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
realclemsongrad
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Re: Donating historical works of Parents:

Post by realclemsongrad »

Nowizard wrote: Thu May 12, 2022 2:58 pm I have posted previously in this regard and am looking for any additional suggestions and possible follow-up by one responder associated with the University of Arkansas. Basically, my parents were prolific writers and photographers with a collection that one knowledgeable person stated exceeded anything in the Library of Congress. This specific item involved extensive interviews and photographic documentation of the ending generation of those living in Ozark log cabins. The work was completed in the 1950's, part of which is contained in a published book. Another example is that they were both among a few outsiders allowed to document activities of Japanese Americans incarcerated in an internment camp located in Arkansas. My sister and I have finally organized their work (Probably 500 hours for each of us) and are ready to donate it. There are no intentions of appraising the collection or seeking tax benefits from the donation, only preservation of a very wide range of items. Any suggestions from those who have been involved with such will be appreciated, including a response from a person I believe was married to someone involved with the University of Arkansas archive.

Tim
University of Texas has incredible collections and I would recommend reaching out to see if they have any interest.

https://www.lib.utexas.edu/about/collections
quietseas
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Re: Donating historical works of Parents:

Post by quietseas »

For others, maybe this is a good lesson learned on estate planning for this type of situation when known to the family. What a burden to leave to one's heirs when there is something this important reflecting a lifetime of hard work. It sounds like OP is committed to see this through and maybe parents trusted their children to do so, but it could have just as easily ended up turning out very differently.
PoppyA
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Re: Donating historical works of Parents:

Post by PoppyA »

Have you considered asking for help searching this forum? To help find the poster in question….
trallium
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Re: Donating historical works of Parents:

Post by trallium »

PeninsulaPerson wrote: Fri May 13, 2022 9:39 am (It would be a shame if you gave it to the UofA, then they had it appraised and sold it at auction for big bucks!)
The archive curator is going to do an appraisal (edit: but for archival value, not monetary value) as part of the acquisitions process. It is very rare for special collections to be auctioned off to raise funds for a school.
123
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Re: Donating historical works of Parents:

Post by 123 »

PeninsulaPerson wrote: Fri May 13, 2022 9:39 am ...It would be a shame if you gave it to the UofA, then they had it appraised and sold it at auction for big bucks!...
+1 This is a potential risk with a donation to any institution other than the National Archives. Changes in management, collection priorities, and need/desire for revenue would be more of a threat outside of the National Archives. Museums are cagey, they may not sell or dispose of a collection in the donor's lifetime, they will bide their time.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.
PeninsulaPerson
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Re: Donating historical works of Parents:

Post by PeninsulaPerson »

123 wrote: Fri May 13, 2022 12:31 pm
PeninsulaPerson wrote: Fri May 13, 2022 9:39 am
...It would be a shame if you gave it to the UofA, then they had it appraised and sold it at auction for big bucks!...
+1 This is a potential risk with a donation to any institution other than the National Archives. Changes in management, collection priorities, and need/desire for revenue would be more of a threat outside of the National Archives. Museums are cagey, they may not sell or dispose of a collection in the donor's lifetime, they will bide their time.

My mother-in-law had things she assured us were very, very valuable indeed. Turns out she was not right about that. But - after she died - we enquired and did that due diligence. Sounds like the OP is in a very different position if this is "Library of Congress" caliber material. Always a giant IF. Which is where a solid appraisal comes in.

All of these situations require some stewardship. I just wasn't sure if - after more than 1000 hours - the OP and their sister are sick of thinking about this stuff. But it seemed like knowing beforehand might set their minds at ease later - not always wondering if they missed an opportunity. (If they care. Again, they may not! And that could be fine too!)

P.S. If the collection is quite valuable but the OP and their sister don't want to profit from other people's sadness, it could be a blessing to sell and set up a scholarship fund for Japanese-American kids. If they wanted to take that time and do that good, if it was possible.

I wonder if the parents ever spoke about the potential value of this collection. Sounds like probably not.
Gardner's Son
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Re: Donating historical works of Parents:

Post by Gardner's Son »

As the son of a Japanese-American who was held at Jerome and Rohwer, I'd suggest contacting a few of the following:
> https://www.jampilgrimages.com/jerome
> https://www.janm.org/ (Contact these folks first!)
> https://rohwer.astate.edu/

PM me as needed...

Artie Kamiya
Durham, NC
Topic Author
Nowizard
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Re: Donating historical works of Parents:

Post by Nowizard »

Thank you for the responses. Yes, contact has been made with a responder to the first post.
Also, the response regarding the "burden" that children can experience from their parent's work is one to consider. Our parents were academically focused, committed to a quietly activist life of service to others. It was an honor to be the child of parents for whom no excuses were ever necessary. They were decidedly unmaterialistic though intelligent and educated. They simply took their work and put it in the attic or carefully stored items such as negatives that required care. My sister and I were amazed at not only what we knew but with the volume of work. We will get it appropriately placed. Some of the responses add possibilities, some are ones with familiarity. This is an amazing forum!

Tim
InMyDreams
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Re: Donating historical works of Parents:

Post by InMyDreams »

duplicate
Jeepergeo
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Re: Donating historical works of Parents:

Post by Jeepergeo »

Caution. If you donate the works, make sure you get in writing the mutual understanding between the donor and the receipient regarding how the works will be used and/or displayed.

It is not uncommon for donors to find out later that their prize donation was sold outright or broken down and sold in parts. Seeing an important work show up on a tee shirt, greeting card, or advertisement could be a disappointment.

Not getting the donation appraised is perhaps being a bit nieve or maybe just being affraid to find its true value. Knowing the number may or may not change what you do, but the information can be important. For example, if the works appraise at $1M, you will be in a better spot to negotiate with the intended receipient on how the works will be maintained compared to works that appraise for $100K.
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