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 Site 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 Museum 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.

Donating Artifacts and Archives

What does the site collect?

  • Artifacts - Items related to family life, school, work, medical care, recreation, religious, entertainment, musical instruments, 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 - 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 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 (see below).

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


Our Collections Advisory Committee carefully considers all donation offers in compliance with our Scope of Collections Statement. Review of your donation offer may take multiple months and your patience is appreicated. If you are interested in making a donation, please contact a park ranger first. Manzanar National Historic Site cannot accept unsolicited, dropped-off donations.

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.

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, 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.

Collections held at Death Valley National Park are open to the public by appointment. Please contact the site at 760-878-2194, ext. 3310 or e-mail us to make arrangements.


Manzanar has changing exhibits that rotate infrequently. They generally have themes such as sports, art, fishing, music, and traveling exhibits, etc. Paper items generally do not go on exhibit; they can be scanned and identical replicas of originals can be exhibited. We have a virtual museum exhibit featuring over 200 items from the collection and California Revealed hosts even more items. We hope to expand what is offered online where they can reach international audiences. Oral history clips and interviews are also available online. Items and archives from the Manzanar Museum Collection can also be loaned to other museums around the world for exhibition. Manzanar National Historic Site cannot promise an item will be on display in the visitor center exhibits.

Last updated: April 22, 2024

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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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