Collections Policy

The Thomas County Historical Society seeks to document the history of Thomas County and Thomasville, Georgia, by collecting documents, records, printed material, photographs, artifacts, memorabilia, and audio-visual materials. The Society actively seeks materials which will enhance the present collection and strengthen collection weaknesses.

The collections of the Museum are available to members of the Society and to the general public for research under the rules and regulations for use of the collection. Portions of the collection may also be used for exhibits within the Museum of History and the Lapham-Patterson House Museum.

Acquisitions will be made through donation, deposit, and on rare occasion by purchase and are approved by the Historical Society’s Curator of Collections in accordance with the Collection Policy. Acquisitions will also be based on the Society’s ability to properly care for the items. Acquisitions will be limited to those collections that have a primary emphasis on Thomas County and/or Thomas County residents. However, this will not preclude acquisition of materials of broader scope if they describe conditions or events which directly impacted Thomas County and its development.

The following items will be accepted:

  • Family and individual artifacts and papers including textiles, letters, diaries, legal documents, speeches, memoirs, ledgers, digital storage media, etc.
  • Organizational artifacts and records including but not limited to governments, schools, and churches; also, civic clubs, charitable organizations, mutual interest groups, secret societies, and fraternal or sporting organizations.
  • Still images including but not limited to printed images in all current and historical formats, positive and negative slides, negative images, hand or machine drawn images, digital images on physical media, and non-physical digital images.
  • Moving images in all available formats including but not limited to celluloid film, video tape, digital video discs, and digital files.
  • Audio recordings in all current and historic formats, including but not limited to wax cylinders, analog records, magnetic tape, compact discs, and non-physical digital files.
  • Printed materials including newspapers, pamphlets, brochures, directories, annuals, family histories, and posters.
  • Books in all formats related to Thomas County history, including rare and current books for reference, history, and biography.

The Society recognizes that other institutions collect in the same or overlapping areas and that, in some cases, another such institution may be a more appropriate repository for materials offered to the Society. In the spirit of cooperation, opportunities to acquire such materials, as well as those not covered by the Collection policy of the Society, will be referred to an appropriate repository. In the event that the legitimate collecting interests of the Society and another repository directly conflict, the Society will use the best interests of the research community as the primary criterion in pursuing a resolution.

Except in special circumstances, photocopied material will not be accessioned in to the Society’s collections and will be considered reference material not subject to the same protections and restrictions of archival items of the collection. Newspaper clippings may be accessioned into the collection or treated as non-archival reference materials at the discretion of the Curator of Collections.

The Society will not accept collections which are closed to public access in perpetuity. Although the Society prefers not to collect material with access restrictions, collections that can be opened upon the donor’s death, or within a reasonable period of time, will be considered.

The Society discourages accepting incoming loans due to the procedural complications that frequently accompany said acceptance. Particular consideration should be paid to the loaner’s age and health. Incoming loans will only be accepted on a temporary basis when it will be of benefit to the Society, with approval from the Curator of Collections or the Executive Director.

Collection items of the Society will not be specific to the Museum of History or Lapham-Patterson House Museum, other than an annotation in the catalogue record. Objects and archives belonging to the Society will be stored at the Museum of History’s storage area if not on exhibit. Objects belonging to the State of Georgia/Department of Natural Resources will remain at the Lapham-Patterson House Museum under all circumstances and should never be brought to the Museum of History.

In the event that the Society determines a previously accessioned item to be unsuitable, it will be de-accessioned.

Procedures for Execution of Society Policy for Acceptance of Materials:

  • A gift agreement will be executed between the donor and the Society.
  • The Society is under no obligation to accept everything offered by a donor.
  • There will be no guarantee of exhibit or special treatment of materials donated.
  • Loan-In: Loans will not normally be accepted.
  • Loan-Out: Archival materials will not normally be loaned out.
  • Materials will be processed and catalogued according to nationally established archival procedures.
  • Guarantees of immediate cataloging will not be given.
  • The Society will not provide copies of donated materials.
  • Tax appraisals of donated materials will be handled by the donor before such material will be accepted by the Society. The Society will not participate in the appraisal process.
  • The Society will not purchase manuscripts collections from private owners.
  • Any special exceptions to these procedures will be reviewed by the Curator of Collections or the Executive Director.