Donate your archival material
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Library and Archives Canada (LAC) accepts archival (unpublished) material in all forms and languages. It must be created in Canada or abroad on subjects related to Canada's history and culture. If you have items to donate that may be of interest to Canadians, then we may want them for our collection.
We consider items based on rarity, age, physical condition, and how they fit in with other items in the collection. Archival material created at the time of Confederation or before (1867 or earlier) is of great importance to us.
What you can offer
We collect archival material in many formats:
- letters and diaries
- drawings and paintings
- sound and video recordings
- maps, charts and architectural plans
- postage stamps and associated records
- business records
If you offer digital records, ensure that they
- can be read by us and are not written in a code that prevents access
- have been checked and found to be virus-free
- do not contain digital signatures or passwords
- do not contain self-updating macros and fields (such as dates)
- are not mixed in with other types of items
What you need before you offer
If possible, gather the following details to help us understand your material:
- who created it
- when it was created
- what it is about
- what is the provenance (origin) of the material
- who is the current owner and whether this person can give legal ownership of the item permanently to LAC
- where the material is located (name of city/town and province)
Details about your material
Experts need the material to be in the same order in which it was stored so that they can understand how it was used. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions before organizing the material.
- Keep items in the original order
- Keep envelopes with letters
- Do not put material into binders
- Do not remove any material
- Do not remove paper clips, staples, fasteners, file folders, plastic covers or sleeves
Protect your items by storing them away from extreme temperatures, moisture, insects and food.
How to offer
Fill in and send a completed copy of the PDF to the Gifts section at email@example.com.
Filling out and saving PDF forms
To fill out and save a PDF form, first download and then open the form using Adobe Acrobat Reader DC (free).
How to download the PDF form:
- PC users—Right-click on the link. Choose “Save target as” or “Save link as.”
- Mac users—Hold the Control key and click on the link. Choose “Download Linked File As…”.
- Save the PDF form in a folder that you will be able to find easily on your computer.
- Launch Reader.
- Browse to the folder where you saved the file, and open it in Reader. You can now fill out and save the PDF form.
All information about donations is protected under the Privacy Act and will not be shared outside of LAC. For more information, read our Terms and Conditions.
Offer archival material form (PDF, 385 KB)
Please do not send us any archival material until you are asked to do so.
After you offer
After you send in the form, an expert may contact you for more information. The expert may ask to look at the material where it is currently located or may ask to see it at one of our buildings, if needed.
If your offer is accepted
Our staff will work with you to move your material to our offices, where it will be registered and managed.
We will prepare a written agreement to transfer legal ownership of your material. After LAC and you have both signed this document, the material becomes our property.
Deciding copyright and moral rights
You must discuss copyright and moral rights with LAC once your offer has been accepted. We may hold items in the collection without owning these rights. If you decide to keep these rights, then LAC will contact you whenever we receive a request from a researcher asking to publish your material.
Adding your material to our collection
LAC experts will review your material and may select only some items for the collection. Any items that are not selected will be either returned to you or destroyed securely.
Experts will arrange and describe your material using archival standards and practices. The condition of the items will be assessed, and items will be treated if necessary.
Items will then be stored for long-term preservation. Your material will be listed in our catalogue as part of our collection, and it will be available to be viewed by anyone unless you have set restrictions with LAC.
Setting a time limit before material can be seen
Our goal is to allow anyone to view our collection. But sometimes LAC needs to protect personal or sensitive information for a set time. The expert responsible for your material will help you decide on limits for viewing your items.
Getting an appraisal and tax receipt
Your material will be assessed and given a value. Individual donors will receive a tax receipt for that amount to use as a tax credit on income taxes.
Certifying cultural property
Depending on the results of the appraisal, you may be eligible for another tax benefit. We may apply to have your material considered to be cultural property by the
Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board.
If your offer is not accepted
We cannot accept every offer of archival material. Our staff may suggest that you contact a provincial or regional archive, or another heritage institution, instead.
Contact Gifts Section
- Telephone (toll-free)
- TTY (toll-free)