Missouri Historical Records Advisory Board

Best Practices for Local Archives and Repositories


Deed of Gift

The deed of gift is a fundamental document for any repository. This agreement, between a donor and the institution, transfers legal ownership of the record/object. The deed of gift should be kept on file permanently as proof of ownership. The document should include: contact information for the donor; a description of the items being transferred; if the materials are copyrighted, the deed should indicate if the copyright is being transferred; what restrictions, if any, will be placed on the use/display of the items; the deed should have provisions for how to deal with unwanted materials; it may contain special provisions for the donor; and it may include details of future acquisitions from the donor. In addition to being proof of ownership, the deed of gift is the record of how a collection came into the repository, showing its provenance—literally its origin.

The deed of gift policy for cultural institutions should include:

Sample Deeds of Gift

These samples are provided as examples of how deeds of gift may be structured. It is up to your local institution to decide what information needs to be included.