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Montage of items from the NHHC collection
Information about donating materials to NHHC

Donate Materials

General Policies

The Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) is an Echelon II command headquartered on the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C. As the institutional memory of the U.S. Navy, NHHC’s vision and mission is to ensure the preservation of U.S. Navy history and heritage through its many dedicated historians, librarians, archivists, underwater archaeologists, museum curators, and support personnel. These professionals collect, preserve, and protect the Navy’s important books, documents, art, and artifacts. Others research, analyze, write, and disseminate knowledge products.


The NHHC Headquarters collecting entities consist of six branches. Each branch specializes in its own distinct collection specialty with its own policies for managing their respective collections. The collecting branches include Archives, Art, Curator, Photo Archives, Library, and Underwater Archaeology. These collections are available to all supported museums and other organizations for exhibit, display, and loan. The ten museums that are part of NHHC are separate collecting entities with their own guidelines and policies. You may contact them directly if you wish to donate/return items to a Navy museum.


NHHC staff will review donation/return offers and make selection decisions based on their respective branch’s needs and collection development policies. Donations/Gifts/Returns are accepted with the understanding that they become the property of the command, or returned to the custody of the command, and that the collecting branch may make all necessary decisions as to their retention, location, cataloging, and other considerations relating to their use and disposition. When it is necessary to decline a gift, alternative repositories may be suggested whenever possible.


Prospective donors should submit their donation/return offers in writing to the branch that most closely aligns with the General Collecting Parameters below. Please review the guidelines in the “How to Donate” section for specific instructions. Donating your material is a detailed and time-consuming process for all involved. Please allow time for staff to review the offer(s), research, and submit them to a committee if necessary. You may also find more information in the “Frequently Asked Questions” page.


General Collecting Parameters:

Archives: Manuscript collections, documents, letters, log books

Art: Paintings, Drawings and Engravings

Curator: Artifacts relating to specific ships, events or people to include uniforms, plaques, ship parts, instruments and any items considered to be three-dimensional

Photo Archives: Photographs, slides, scrapbooks, and albums

Library: Books and ephemera

Underwater Archaeology: Artifacts recovered from U.S. Navy sunken and terrestrial military craft, as well as foreign sunken military craft within U.S. waters, if applicable