Collection Policy and Donating Materials

Collection Development

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library accepts collections of unique and original primary-source materials that document the life, career, and time period of John F. Kennedy. Our primary interest is in original documents, manuscripts, photographs, sound recordings, and moving images created or maintained by John F. Kennedy, members of his administration, his immediate family, and close associates.

For information about our general collection development policy, see our Collecting Policy and Procedures. See also our Archives brochure, which includes topics highlighted in our holdings. 

The Library’s collections include the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV) Collection and we accept the personal papers and born digital oral histories of Peace Corps Volunteers who served during the Kennedy Administration (1961-1963). For details, please see the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Collection Development Policy.

The Library also houses the world’s largest collection of Ernest Hemingway materials. For more information about the materials we accept into our Hemingway holdings, please refer to the Ernest Hemingway Collection Development Policy.

Donating Your Materials

Thank you for your interest in donating archival materials to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library! (Before reading any further, please see bolded note below.)

Because unsolicited donations may be returned or disposed of without notice, we ask potential donors to contact our Acquisitions team before sending any items to the Library:

Acquisitions email:
Acquisitions voicemail line: 617.514.1642
Acquisitions mailing address: Supervisory Archivist, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Columbia Point, Boston, MA 02125

We ask that you provide a detailed description of the material you wish to donate, the quantity, and your contact information. Please note that the Library does not acquire very small donations (e.g., a single document or several photographs) unless they are truly unique or of singular historical value.

All donation offers are handled during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 4:30) and must be reviewed by Library staff before they can be accepted. A member of the Acquisitions staff will respond to your offer within ten business days if the material you wish to donate meets our collection development guidelines.

NOTE: Starting in January 2024, we will be placing an indefinite moratorium on accepting archival donations due to resource limitations. We encourage you to check this page and the Acquisitions voicemail line periodically to keep updated on the status of our archival donation program. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What don’t you accept?

A: We generally do not accept the following categories of materials:

  • Newspapers, journals, magazine, books, or personal libraries;
  • Tributes, poems, songs, or other personal reminiscences;
  • Mass-produced materials such as inauguration invitations and campaign buttons;
  • Photocopies or digital facsimiles of original materials (including those from other archives);
  • Personal scrapbooks (including news clipping scrapbooks);
  • Materials that are too fragile to service to researchers or require extensive conservation; materials that have mold, mildew, pest, or other potentially harmful infestations; or organic materials.

Q: How much is my material worth? Is it authentic?

A: As a federal institution, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library cannot purchase materials, provide monetary appraisals or assessments, or recommend individual appraisers. If you would like to have your materials appraised, you must do so prior to donating them to the Library. The following websites provide the names of certified appraisers throughout the country:

Q: Do I need to sign anything?

A: We may ask you to complete a formal deed of gift or to provide a written statement confirming your intent to donate the materials. We do not accept materials for temporary loan or deposit, and materials donated to the Kennedy Library become the physical property of the United States. Donors are also expected to transfer to the United States all copyrights they hold in the materials, making them public domain.

Q: How will I know you received my donation?

A: All pre-approved donations will be acknowledged formally upon receipt, usually by letter. Please note that unsolicited donations may not be acknowledged.

Q: Will my donation be exhibited?

A: We cannot guarantee that donations will be placed on display and we are unable to accept donations requiring that stipulation.