MISSION STATEMENT: The purpose of the DeSoto County Historical Society (DCHS) is to preserve and promote the history of DeSoto County, Florida, for future generations. To this end we identify, select, gather, preserve, maintain, and catalogue historical documents and significant artifacts from DeSoto County and make them accessible to the public.
   A. The DCHS archives and collections serve to fulfill its mission.
   B. The DeSoto County Historical Society maintains four distinct collections that include objects that are on, by, about, or representative of the DeSoto County area and the activities of the people who live or have lived in the DeSoto County area. Each Collection will have its own Chairperson and Committee to oversea the collection.
The DeSoto County area is defined as the county created in 1887 and then split in 1921 into the five present-day counties of Charlotte, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, and Highlands, plus that area when it was part of St. Johns County (1821-1824), Alachua County (1824-1834), Hillsborough County (1834-1855), and Manatee County (1855-1887). The pre-contact history, first and second Spanish eras, and the British occupation are also included when they relate to the DeSoto County area.
Collection I: The Howard and Velma Melton Historical Research Library 

The foundation for this collection is more than 200 binders, books, newspaper articles, programs, letters, telegrams, documents, and other information- oriented artifacts that the Society purchased from Howard Melton in 2008. This collection continues to grow with donations of other historic photographs, documents, and/or digital copies of such items, plus “family trees.”
Collection II: The John Morgan Ingraham House
The foundation of this collection is the furniture and other artifacts that belonged to John Morgan Ingraham. A committee of the Society has and will continue to acquire other artifacts and replicas to recreate the house as it was when the Ingraham family lived there during the 1920s and 1930s.
The Ingraham house also displays non-permanent museum exhibits from the Society’s museum collection as described in Collections III below.
Collection III: The DeSoto County Historical Society Museum Collection
This collection includes all artifacts donated to the Society from its founding in 1987 until the present time. Many of these--plus glass display cases and other display items or containers--were acquired when the Society leased the Brownville School to use as a museum. Others are on display at the DeSoto County Chamber of Commerce, the Opera House Museum, and in other such locations in Arcadia.  All future museum acquisitions will follow the guidelines as established within this document.
Collection IV: Non-accessioned collection.
Items that exist at the Society on a temporary basis that consist of
a. Research and education: Informative material, e.g. from other collections, libraries, genealogical research to enhance further such studies, exhibits, lectures, public education, publications, etc.
b. Short-term or long-term loans for purposes of cataloging, exhibition and/or study.​
   A. The DCHS Collections Committee
      1. Collections Committees (John Morgan Ingraham House collection, Research Library, Museum Collection, Non-accessioned) shall be standing committees of the DeSoto County Historical Society.
      2. The Chair of each of the Collections Committees, or designated representative, shall report, in writing or in person, acquisitions and deaccessions to the Board of Directors at a monthly meeting. A printed copy of the Committee reports will be filed in the Museum office.
      3. The Collections Committees will meet as needed, at least once annually.
      4. The Collections Committees will endeavor to digitize and/or digitally document all items in its collections as completely and accurately as possible and make this data available to residents and to the general public.
      5. The Collection Committees will attempt to identify important gaps in the collection and to broaden holdings related to DeSoto County’s individuals, groups, themes, issues, and events that are currently under-represented in the DCHS collection.
      6. The Collections Committees will make recommendations to the Board of Directors with respect to acquisitions and deaccessions both in writing and at a board meeting.
   B. The Collections Policy
A copy of the Collections Guidelines shall be made available on the DeSoto County Historical Society website and to any person who requests them. A copy of the Collections Guidelines shall be kept on file in the Museum office.
 Any member of a Collections Committee may make recommendations for changes to the Collections Guidelines. The recommended changes will be sent in writing to each member of the Collections Committee before any meeting in which they will be discussed and/or voted upon.
   A. The legal title to every item or artifact accessioned must pass to the DeSoto County Historical Society. Donors will be requested to sign a contract giving the Society sole ownership of the items.
   B. Criteria for determining whether an item or artifact should be accepted: 
      1. The item or artifact is consistent with the Society's mission.
      2. The Society can properly store and preserve the item or artifact. 
      3. The item or artifact will be used in the foreseeable future.
      4. The item or artifact is not encumbered with conditions imposed by the donor regarding its future use or disposition.
      5. The use of the item or artifact is not restricted or encumbered by intellectual property rights (copyright, patent, trademark, or trade secret).
      6. The use of the item or artifact is not restricted or encumbered by its nature (e.g., obscene, defamatory, potentially an invasion of privacy).
      7. The item or artifact is so exceptional to the goals of the Society that it should be given special consideration.
      8. The acceptance of the item or artifact in all probability will not result in major future expenses for the Society (for preservation or maintenance or because it opens a new collection outside the designated scope).
   C. Items that are offered and refused will be returned to the donor. The DCHS will not be responsible for disposal of unwanted items.
   D. Special Concerns and Situations:
      1. Acquisitions by purchase shall be made only after:
         a. Proper financing has been arranged
         b. The Board of Directors has verified that the budget will allow the purchase.
      2. Materials left anonymously in the custody of the DCHS will be evaluated and considered for inclusion in the collections. A donation form will be filled out by a member of the Collections Committee and filed. The disposition of the item, whether accessioned or disposed of, will be included on that form.
      3. The DCHS may attempt to gain title to undocumented collections in its possession through the "abandoned property" law in the Florida General Laws and Statutes.
      4. Municipal records from the city, county, or school district will be accepted only if they comply with the Florida Records Disposal Schedule.
      5. Documents and photographs may be accepted for scanning and inclusion in the DCHS database without the object itself being physically added to the collection.
  E. Acquisition and Accessioning Procedures
      1. The member of the Collections Committee will accept an item in temporary custody and provide a receipt for such item to the donor.
      2. If the donor is present he/she will fill out a "Donation Form" providing descriptive information of the item, a value, and his/her reasoning for offering such donation.
     3. If the item has been received in the mail, the member of the Collections Committee will fill out the "Donation Form" and obtain the donor's signature.
     4. Items in temporary custody will be presented to the Collections Committee at their next meeting.
     5. The Collections Committee will decide by a simply majority vote whether to accept or reject the item for accession. A notation should be made as to why the item is not accepted.
     6. Donations accepted into the collection will be acknowledged by a formal letter from the Collections Chair.
     7. Each item accepted into the collection will be immediately given a unique and standardized identification number for the purpose of cataloging and record- keeping.
F. Tax Deductions: All gifts to the DeSoto County Historical Society are deductible on federal income tax forms according to Internal Revenue Service laws under 501(c)(3). By law, the donor is required to determine the value of the donation. DCHS volunteers are not required to give an appraisal of donations.
   A. Deaccessioning Procedures
      1. The Collections Committee shall recommend items for deaccession if:
          a. If the item replicates another item that is already in the collection, which best serves its purpose.
          b. The item has deteriorated to the point that it can no long be preserved and is not of benefit for display in the collection.
          c. The item does not beneficially illuminate the history of DeSoto County or the lives of the people who lived here.
          d. The item cannot be provided with the necessary care or preservation.
          e. The item is so inferior to similar items in the collection that the collection is not diminished by its absence.
      2. The Collections Committee will discuss the proposed deaccession and by a simple majority vote confirm or reject the deaccession of the item. If they choose to deaccess the item, The Committee will make a recommendation to the Board of Directors which includes complete information for their consideration of their decision.
      3. The Board of Directors will vote upon the recommendation of the Collections Committee to deaccession an item. A simple majority vote is required.
   B. Special Concerns or Situations
      1. No donated object shall be deaccessioned for any reason for two years after the date of its acquisition. (See U.S. Tax Reform Act of 1984 and I.R.S. regulations.)
      2. Objects designated as unclaimed loans can be deaccessioned as abandoned property only with approval of the Collections Committee.
   C. Disposal of Items
      1. The Collections Committee will attempt to notify the donor or heir of the intent of the historical society to deaccession an item.
      2. The preferred way to dispose of deaccessioned items is by auction. If auction is not possible, direct sale is allowable.
      3. In certain circumstances the DCHS may choose to give an item to another institution. Upon the approval of the Board of Directors, the Collections Committee will follow through on these actions.
      4. In certain circumstances the DCHS may choose to consider a formal, reciprocal transfer of materials between the Historical Society and another institution or individual. Upon the recommendation and the approval of the Board of Directors, the Collections Committee will follow through on these actions.
      5. With approval of the Collections Committee, certain deaccessioned items that are deemed unsalvageable may be destroyed.
  D. Collections Fund
      1. A collections fund will be created into which all net proceeds resulting from the disposition of deaccessioned items are deposited.
      2. Withdrawals from the collections fund may be made for:
          a. Purchase of items for the collection
          b. Purchase of materials for the conservation of collections c. Conservation of artifacts
d. Publications related to the collection
   A. The DeSoto County Historical Society will make every effort to catalog and digitize as much of its collection as feasible and make this digitized information available.
   B. Original materials may be accessed at the DCHS archive site by request. A member of the Collections Committee will be present to assure that such objects are correctly handled and that materials remain undamaged. Particularly fragile items may be available only in digitized form. Archival materials are generally not available for circulation or loan, except by special arrangement.
   C. Fees for Research and Copying Services
      1. Research requests should be made in writing, and persons may be charged a fee for filling research requests as determined by the Collections Committee. Such charges should be reviewed on a regular basis, but not less than annually.
      2. Original positive and negative images from the society's collections may be duplicated for purchase. Fees will be established for the reproduction and publishing of photos, negatives, slides, and transparencies.
  D. Publication and Reproduction Permission
      1. Copyright protection extends to all unpublished works now protected under common law. This includes the collections of the DeSoto County Historical Society.
      2. Individuals must obtain permission in writing from the DeSoto County Historical Society Collections Committee and the Board of Directors to publish any photographs or materials from the Society collections. Penalties for copyright violation are severe.
Every effort consistent with professional standards and ethics and within the financial resources of the DCHS will be made to preserve the collections.
The DCHS collections will be stored and exhibited in environmentally safe conditions with museum-standard levels of temperature and humidity to the extent possible
The Collections Committee will create a "Disaster Plan" to ensure the best possible protection of the collections in the event of fire, smoke, or water damage, or natural disasters.
  A. Systematic records concerning the DeSoto County Historical Society's collections shall be maintained at all times. Records will consist of the following:
      1. Accession Records including deeds of gift, transfer correspondence, copies of wills/trusts or other evidence of ownership, donation/gift agreements, purchase records, insurance documents, valuation documents, etc.
      2. Deaccession Records
      3. Loan forms
      4. Notes on care and conservation of collections
      5. Notes for the interpretation and exhibit of collections 
      6. Database inventory of collections
      7. Minutes of Collections Committee meetings, etc.
   B. Collections records will be protected, in so far as possible, from destruction, by creating duplicate files to be stored in an off-site location.
  A. The DeSoto County Historical Society Board of Directors intends to preserve, conserve and insure the holdings to the best of its ability. This includes long-range plans to upgrade and maintain the security measures around and in the historical society building.
  B. The DCHS will maintain security and safety measures designed to protect the collections and the building.
  C. The Collections Committees will review the procedures for access to the collections every year to minimize the risk of theft to the collections.
The DeSoto County Historical Society endorses the Code of Ethics established by the American Association of State and Local History. The Board of Directors and volunteers working with the collections are expected to abide by these standards.
Assessing:  same source, at the same time for which the Society has custody, right, or title, and assigning a unique control number to it.
Acquisition: The administrative process of discovering, preliminary evaluating, negotiating for, taking custody of, and documenting title of an object, assembly or lot.
Cataloging: The curatorial process of classifying and documenting objects usually in complete descriptive detail resulting in extensive information in the form of cards, files, publications, and automated data.
Deaccessioning: The formal process used to remove permanently an object from the collections.
Documenting: The process of producing records to identify and enhance the knowledge and value of collections with the intent of maintaining informational and intellectual control over them.
Inventorying: The overall function of creating, controlling and maintaining information, immediately and briefly, about all objects owned by, and in the care, custody, and control of a museum.
Loans: Temporary transfers of collection items from the museum, or temporary transfers of similar items to the museum for stated museum purposes. The transfers do not involve a change of ownership.
AMENDMENTS or proposed changes to this document may be suggested by any Collection Committee to the Board of Directors and must be passed by a 2/3 vote of the Board of Directors to become effective.
GUIDLINES approved and adopted by unanimous vote of the Board of Directors on April 27, 2015.