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where the organization originated. Several Smithsonian staff members are serious collectors; other local collectors have lectured for the Residents Associates Programs.

The major collectors of historical material tend to be small service organizations which record the history of a group or community. They are often university departments, civic or professional groups; occasionally private individuals have important historical collections. Three notable collections of this type came to the staff's attention. The first was eclectic; it included rare books, historical paintings, letters signed by historical figures, documents, broadsides, etchings and photographs. This collection contained in excess of 5,000 objects and has received a fair amount of publicity. The second was an important collection of over 4,000 photographs and documents related to Blacks in the Civil War. It included discharge papers, posters, letters, postcards and plaques. The third was a collection of photographs reflecting a fifty-year career in photojournalism. It included rare prints of well-known jazz musicians in their youth, in concert and in the privacy of their homes, famous sports figures and politicians.

The collectors of family history are probably the most significant group of potential donors that Smithsonian staff has contacted. While their collections are generally small, they are often rare and important. Objects which have been offered include a deed signed by Frederick Douglass, vases (which appear to be authentic) signed by George Washington Carver, manumission papers, family bibles, objects and documents from Black businesses, drawings, diaries, paintings, and letters. Some of these collectors have had their collections shown in local museums and others have had works professionally conserved. Many of these collectors were eager to donate their most valued possessions so that they would not be lost or discarded.

The Implications 

Time is of the essence. While the publicity concerning the Smithsonian's Collections Identification Project helped to identify potential donors, it also encouraged others to compete openly for objects that a new National Museum might be interested in. One potential donor expressed a desire to cooperate with the Smithsonian but alerted the staff that he was being encouraged to sell his collection to the Bettman Archives, a commercial stock house. Additionally, many collectors of memorabilia were seeking free appraisals so that they could resell at a substantial profit. There can be no question that the Smithsonian's very public search is having a real impact on the marketplace.

Many of the identified collections are at risk. Potential donors often are elderly and indigent and simply lack the means or the ability to properly care for the object. They see this initiative as an opportunity to properly preserve their cultural heritage. A number of donors were prepared to send their materials immediately to the Smithsonian. The staff was sometimes made aware of objects at risk because other museums were unable to purchase them but felt that they should not be discarded or sold to private collectors. Smithsonian staff were constrained by their inability to act and spent considerable time identifying colleagues who might be in a position to be of
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