Acquisition Policy

The donation of an artifact is a permanent transfer of ownership to the WCHS.

                Our mission is to preserve and to share the history of Wayne County, Illinois through our museums, archives, exhibits, programs, and publications. We are a private, not-for-profit organization doing this work as a community service.  Acquisitions have been accepted since 1953. Over time the Society’s policies have been modified to reflect our mission and to address practical limitations. We are always interested in reviewing objects, records, images, and other memorabilia directly and identifiably connected to Wayne County for possible acquisition. Feel free to contact the Society with any question about a possible donation: or 618.842.3544.


This policy applies to the Wayne County Historical Society, its Archives, the Early History Museum Collections, and the Hanna House Museum of Contemporary History Collections, and long-term storage items.

  1. The Society accepts only artifacts, records, items that are clearly connected to the people, events, structures, businesses, institutions within Wayne County, IL.  Regional, state, or national artifacts or antiques without clear local provenance/origin are outside our scope.  (For example, the Society is not interested in a vintage text book unless it is directly connected to a local school.  Items or antiques purchased at local sales are not good candidates unless they are directly connected to Wayne County places or people. Simply being purchased at a Wayne County sale is not sufficient.) 
  2. The Society does not sell items from its collection, does not purchase items, and does not appraise. Our collections are donated artifacts that are WCHS property.  Our “no purchase/no sale” policy respects the many citizens who have donated valuable items with no expectation of payment. We also do not wish to insert any “market motive” in our acquisitions.  The Society’s work is a community service. No WCHS member is qualified to appraise the monetary or insurance worth of an item.
  3. We take our commitment to safeguard our collections very seriously; however, we cannot guarantee against damage or loss. Donated items become property of the Society. Should damage or loss occur, the Society is not responsible for replacement or monetary reimbursement to the donor. Our collections contain many irreplaceable items whose value is sentimental, subjective, and varied. Insurance on particular items is beyond our financial means. 
  4. Donated items will be exhibited or preserved in archival storage according to their condition and our exhibit needs. Not every acquisition is displayed and some are exhibited for a short time.  In particular, clothing and fragile documents are generally rotated between exhibit exposure and archival storage to limit damage from light and air.
  5. We can no longer accept loaned items either on a short-term or “permanent loan” basis, except in exceptional and rare case-by-case situations. Donating an item (or documents, photographs, clothing, records, papers, etc.) means it becomes the permanent property of the WCHS. Managing various individual special conditions or open-ended loans is no longer feasible. We continue to honor previous loan arrangements or to arrange for the return of items loaned before this policy change in 2012.
  6. We are honored to accept the donation of military uniforms of local veterans.  We exhibit some, and preserve all.
  7. We can no longer accept most large pieces of furniture, especially items that require unusual maintenance or special storage conditions, such as pump organs, pianos, large tables, walking spinning wheels, fireplace mantles, desks, or open-shelf display cases/shelving.  However, if you have an unusual piece of local history, do give us a call to see if we can handle it.
  8. We are not able to accept actual property or buildings for preservation or for re-sale as a cash donation. These are simply beyond our financial and legal resources. However, we may be able to assist in researching historic property.
  9. Except in rare situations, the Society representative does not make on-site visits to arrange for a donation. Between April and October, donors deliver items directly to the Hanna House Museum during regular Saturday hours.  Donors are also welcome to contact the Society to arrange delivery (call Jami or Niki Roethe at 618-842-3544). We receive smaller items and photos, etc., by mail, FedEx, or UPS throughout the year. Our mailing address is Wayne County Historical Society, c/o 300 S.E. 2nd, Fairfield, IL 62837. The staff of the Fairfield Public Library also accepts pre-arranged drop-offs of WCHS items at the library during regular business hours.
  10. The donor(s) must be the legal owner of any material offered to the Society and are responsible for establishing this status. Generally ownership is expected to be by an individual or organization.  Any concerns about ownership should be settled completely before the donation occurs. The Society does not arbitrate.
  11. Except for miscellaneous items, donors should expect to give the appropriate information for WCHS records.  Donors are offered a copy of the completed acquisition form; the original is kept in the Society files.
  12. Fairfield Public Library staff is not connected to the WCHS. The two organizations are separate entities. The library staff and Society have operated cooperatively since 1953 but are distinct institutions. Librarians do not handle acquisition questions, are not expected to know Society policies, and do not access the museums or archives.

Revised 7/2015

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Hanna House Hours:

Saturdays April-October,
except holiday weekends

Early History Museum Hours:

Saturdays November-March,
except holiday weekends


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