Thinking ahead? Are you considering leaving your collection to the Mills Archive so that its future safety and use will be secured? We offer some thoughts on the wider implications of that decision to provide plenty of time to enter into discussions with us.

A growing trend

As we become more widely known in the mill world, more and more results of mill research and records find their way to the Mills Archive. With every year that passes the Archive is growing in size and stature, as are the facilities we offer.

We welcome the growing recognition of the Mills Archive as the logical repository for mill records. In some cases the researcher or recorder will leave their records to the Mills Archive in their will. In others, it is the executor, or a member of the family, who decides to pass on the material.

Timing is important

Accurate identification of photographs, including the date of taking and the provenance of relevant material, is often a serious problem with collections. Clearly these matters are best tackled by the donor. Once he or she is no longer around for consultation, the opportunity of obtaining this vital information may be gone forever.

If we know collections may be coming to us in the future we encourage the donors to do everything they can to make their collections as well organised as possible. If we are to be given material it also helps if this can be passed on to us while the donor is still available to be consulted and to answer queries.

The need for finance

In recent years we have been pleased to accept some outstanding collections, even though there may have been little consideration by the donors of just how much effort and cost would be entailed in cataloguing, conservation, storage, and making the material available to the public.

Donating material to the Mills Archive is often thought of as sufficient; after all, the collection has gone to a good cause! Little thought may be given to the financial implications for the Mills Archive in accepting such donations. Although we will accept a collection without a donation to ensure it is maintained for the future, we do need donors to give serious consideration to providing help to deal with significant collections before they arrive.

Fourteen years' experience of running the Archive has allowed us to calculate the amount each item costs us to process. Depending on the size of the collection, the amount per item could be as much as £10.80. We draw this figure to your attention in the hope that you will be encouraged, if at all possible, to help defray some of the costs which will be incurred.

The value of what you give us

As the one who has taken the trouble to accumulate the material, you, the donor, are likely to be the one who is most aware of its value. If we are to do justice to your collection, we need you to tell us of its importance. You also need to plan for the order of expense that is likely to be faced for your collection to be treated in the way you would like. These matters are more easily arranged, and misunderstandings avoided, if you discuss your plans and views with us well in advance.

Preparing for the future

We cannot tell what the future will bring. A disaster could strike at any time – it may not necessarily wait until after a bequest to the Mills Archive has been organised.

A "dedicated bequest or lifetime gift" is one way which could assist us in overcoming some of these problems in at least some future cases – where you know you intend to leave significant material to us. If you can give money in advance, you create a virtuous circle with advantages for both your collection and the Archive.

Advantages of dedicated bequests and lifetime gifts

There are obvious advantages for the Mills Archive, but there are also potential advantages to you:

  1. It would enable dialogue to occur between you and the Mills Archive regarding precisely what records are involved, and how they will be treated. It would highlight problems of identification of images, provenance of information, copyright, and so on. You would have the assurance of knowing your work is in good hands.
  2. You would be able to discuss how money should be spent, enabling you to ensure that what you consider important is treated appropriately.
  3. You could consider an early handover to the Mills Archive of those elements of your collection for which you foresee no need. This would bring the comfort of seeing your contribution featuring in our inventory, and possibly our literature, and you would be able to see the expense involved in dealing with it. It would also relieve you of valuable storage space at a time when the ‘down-sizing’ of accommodation might be an issue.
  4. The more that can be organised before your demise, regarding both the records and the financial provision for their cataloguing, conservation and storage, the more that you will ensure their safety and will remove obligations and uncertainty from your family or executors.
  5. Gifts during your lifetime would release you from any financial obligation in your will (although of course the opportunity is still there - particularly if you are favourably impressed by the way you and your collection are being treated!)

How to ensure your gift is safeguarded

We have created a specific fund for such needs. Our Collections Fund is designated for the care of our collections and by sending your donation (or writing your will) and specifying that the gift or bequest should be reserved for the purposes of caring for your collection, you will ensure that the money is used for that purpose