Guide to Donating Your Materials
to the Water Resources Archive

  1. What is the Water Resources Archive and what can it do for you?
  2. What to preserve?
  3. Will the Water Resources Archive take everything you offer?
  4. Special considerations for organizational records
  5. Donating materials
  6. Access to collections
  7. Copyright
  8. Monetary appraisals for tax deductions
  9. Cash gifts
  10. Contact information

Colorado's water resources have played a significant role in the state's history. The Water Resources Archive at Colorado State University documents that role, but cannot do so without assistance from individuals and organizations who have also shaped Colorado's history.

Letters, diaries, photos and other materials created over the years give vital and unique information regarding Colorado's water history. While these materials obviously matter to you, they may be important to a wider audience as well. When you donate your historical materials to the Water Resources Archive, your history becomes a part of Colorado's collective memory.

What is the Water Resources Archive and what can it do for you?

The Water Resources Archive began in 2001 in cooperation with the Colorado Water Resources Research Institute and the Colorado Agricultural Archives with the purpose of documenting the study and development of water resources in Colorado. The Archive preserves collections of written, visual and audio material created by individuals and organizations in order to document specific events and broader societal trends, as well as the general history of water in Colorado. See the collection policy for more details. The Archive ensures that these materials will be available for generations to come, enabling researchers to study Colorado's water history as comprehensively as possible.

The Water Resources Archive will provide your donated materials with secure, environmentally sound storage. The Archive also will organize the materials and create a finding aid--a standard archival tool describing a collection of materials, which includes information on the collection creator as well as a folder-level inventory of each box. The finding aid will be available online, along with digitized items as deemed appropriate.

What to preserve?

The Water Resources Archive accepts materials in any format that are related to the study and development of water resources in Colorado. Materials need not be organized or "old" or related to a prominent entity or event in order to be historically significant. Before records are transferred to the Archive, an archivist should survey your papers and digital files to determine what has enduring historical value. Because the research value of records may be diminished if items are removed or rearranged, donors are encouraged to contact the Archive before discarding or reorganizing materials. The archivist is able to visit your home or office to review materials and transfer them to the repository.

Examples of historically valuable material:

Big Thompson flood damage, 1976 Big Thompson flood damage, 1976.
From the Papers of Daryl B. Simons.

Will the Water Resources Archive take everything you offer?

Although the Water Resources Archive cannot accept everything that may be offered, it welcomes the chance to review material. If it is not appropriate for CSU, there may be another repository to which it could be referred. Some material, though, may be of more sentimental than historical value and should be kept by the individual or family.

Special considerations for organizational records

An organization's history lies in the letters, minutes, reports, photographs, publications and other documents created over the years by officers, members, directors, employees and volunteers. These documents provide unique testimony to the organization's achievements and are also valuable for administrative, legal, fiscal and public relations purposes.

The Water Resources Archive is interested in the records that best illustrate the purpose, activities and policies of your water-related organization. The Archive prefers acquiring related groups of materials rather than individual items. Records should be inactive--that is, no longer regularly used for routine business. If your organization is an ongoing enterprise, it is best to donate records periodically. An archivist will discuss with you appropriate intervals for making those donations. To assure regular contact, your organization might add the periodic transfer of inactive records to the duties of one of its officers.

Donating materials

The Water Resources Archive accepts only permanent donations of materials. Donors are asked to sign a donation agreement, called a deed of gift, which formally signifies that the materials become the property of the Archive.

Access to collections

Once materials are donated, researchers and other users will be able to access them by visiting the Archive. Materials are used on location and under supervision, in order to ensure security and long-term preservation. Prospective donors should become familiar with Archive policies on access and use and discuss any special needs or concerns with the archivist before completing the deed of gift.

Sensitive material may exist in the donation. In order to protect the privacy of individuals or security of water facilities, it may be necessary to discuss restrictions on access to portions of the collection. While the Water Resources Archive desires to make all materials accessible to users, it can agree to reasonable restrictions for a defined period of time.


Assignment of copyright is a complex matter, and donors should discuss issues of copyright ownership with Archive staff prior to completing a deed of gift. Generally, copyright belongs to the creator of writings and other original materials (such as photos and music) but can be legally transferred to heirs or others. Moreover, ownership of copyright is separable from ownership of the physical item (the letter or photo). The Water Resources Archive asks donors to donate not only the physical materials but also any copyright in them that the donor might own. This facilitates researcher use of quotations from the materials and digitization of the materials. To learn more about copyright, see, or ask your attorney.

Monetary appraisals for tax deductions

In certain circumstances, it may be possible for a donor to take a tax deduction for the donation of a collection. Donors are encouraged to speak with their tax accountants or attorneys about this. Archivists cannot give tax advice, nor are they permitted to appraise the monetary value of a collection. It is a donor's responsibility to arrange for and bear the cost of appraisal. Appraisers can be found through the American Society of Appraisers or the Appraisers Association.

Cash gifts

Operating the Archive is expensive endeavor, and your gifts are always appreciated. Although your financial support is not a prerequisite for the acceptance of materials, it is encouraged.

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Contact information

Please contact the Water Resources Archive if you would like to discuss making a donation.

Phone: (970) 491-1939

E-mail: Archives and Special Collections

Mail: Water Resources Archive
Archives and Special Collections
Morgan Library
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1019

This page was modeled on brochures published by the Society of American Archivists.