Donating Artifacts and Archives

Red, green and blue wooden bird pins
Made by Japanese Americans at all ten camps, bird pins were worn, given as gifts, sold, and kept as poignant relics of the incarceration experience.

NPS Photo

Museum Collections: Preserving the Past

Congress established Manzanar National Historic in 1992. Three distinct eras are represented in the site's museum collection. Owens Valley Paiute inhabiting the area from A.D. 600 to the early 1900s; the early ranching and farming period from 1860-1930; and the World War II confinement of Japanese Americans from 1942-1945. The National Park Service has conducted oral histories about these eras of Manzanar since 1999. The purpose of the collection is to preserve, study, and interpret the cultural history of Manzanar. Bird pins are one of many artifacts in the Manzanar Collection. These and other items offer a glimpse into life in camp. Furniture, clothing, utensils, cemetery offerings, and other tangible resources enrich our knowledge and our ability to tell the stories of people who lived at Manzanar.

Visit our Virtual Museum and California Revealed to see some of Manzanar's collection.

Donating Artifacts and Archives

What does the Park collect?

  • Artifacts - Items related to family life, school, work, medical care, recreation, religious, entertainment, musical instruments, furniture made in camp, luggage, etc.
  • Paper Documents - Letters, diaries, journals, post cards, greeting cards, stationary, personal papers, scrapbooks, programs, brochures, books, manuscripts, magazines, newsletters, flyers, war bonds, ration books, etc.
  • Photographs - Photographic prints & negatives, slides, snapshots, albums, etc.
  • Motion Pictures - Camp related amateur home movies, newsreels, commercial or government films, etc.
  • Arts and Crafts - Paintings, drawings, sculptures, jewelry, sketchbooks, etc.
  • Sports and Hobbies - Sporting goods, uniforms, club memorabilia, etc.
  • Camp Operations - Furnishings, equipment, logs, administrative documents, records, receipts, payroll, etc.

Japanese American and World War II Collections

Donations must be relevant historic material specifically associated with the incarceration of Japanese Americans at the Manzanar War Relocation Center during World War II. Donations can be personal possessions and artifacts as well as documents relating to the political and social factors leading to the incarceration. Artifacts and archives from other World War II War Relocation Centers are considered on a case by case basis.

Ranch and Farm History

Manzanar accepts donations related to the homestead era and early pioneer settlement of the town of Manzanar. These provide a record of frontier ranch and farm life prior to World War II. Donations of artifacts and documents from outside of Manzanar relating to farming, ranching, homesteading, and mining are directed to the Eastern California Museum in Independence, CA.

Owens Valley Paiute

Donations of historic material associated with the Owens Valley Paiute within the area that became Manzanar may be accepted by our museum collection. Items from outside of Manzanar are directed to the Eastern California Museum in Independence for their consideration.

Eastern California Museum
P.O. Box 206; 155 N. Grant Street, Independence, California 93526


If you have items that you would consider donating to the park, or if you have any questions, please contact the site at 760-878-2194, ext. 3310 or e-mail us.

When an item is brought to the park a temporary Receipt for Property is issued. If the park adds your donation to the collection, a formal Deed of Gift will be sent to the donor for signature. At that time, the donated item will become a permanent part of the collection. At present, both artifacts and archives are housed at Death Valley National Park and the Western Archeological Conservation Center in Tuscon, Arizona, and some items are on exhibit at the park. They remain available to the public by appointment.

Last updated: April 29, 2020

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Manzanar National Historic Site
P.O. Box 426
5001 Highway 395

Independence, CA 93526


(760)878-2194 x3310
Need to speak with a ranger? Call this number for general information.

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