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The History Division studies and interprets the history of San Bernardino County and the southwestern United States from first non-native contact onwards. The division maintains collections of thousands of archival and three-dimensional artifacts at the main museum and historic branch museums. It is responsible for the preservation and conservation of artifacts in these collections, as well as related research and interpretation.

Major collections include 19th century household furnishings, artifacts related to occupations such as lumbering, woodworking, citrus, transportation, and mining, and special collections of textiles and costumes, plus extensive archival photographic and documentary holdings. Three-dimensional artifacts (such as household furnishings and transportation) are found in the main museum on exhibit and in storage and at the branch museum at the Yucaipa Adobe, the Yorba and Slaughter Families Adobe, and the Rains House. The small museums at the Asistencia and at Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery contain artifacts and interpretive materials. 

Embroider blouse, Guatemalan, from Atwater collectionAs is true with most museums the majority of the three-dimensional artifacts in the History Division collections are in storage. We rotate artifacts through exhibits in the main museum and inside our branch sites and their associated museums. Our artifacts are also available, by appointment, for researchers to examine.

The San Bernardino County Museum Archives is also a part of the History Division and houses archival materials as well as the History Research Library and the Western Textile Center Library.

All fibrous materials in the San Bernardino County Museum, such as costumes, textiles, and tools for their manufacture, are part of the Western Textile Center collections. These include artifacts in the Anthropology Division collections (such as baskets and Navajo rugs) and in the History Division collections (such as coverlets, quilts, and spinning wheels). Also included in the History Division area are special textile collections such as the Mary Meigs Atwater collection, Dunning collection, and Kipp collection. The Western Textile Center Association (WTCA) is the museum affiliate group that assists with the Western Textile Center collection. Their long association with the museum has benefited the public and collections through such means as workshops and lectures, exhibits, special events, fundraising, volunteer hours on collection care and cataloging, and assisting in acquiring collections. the Western Textile Center Library contains a wonderful collection of books, journals, and fabric swatches related to the fiber arts from the 19th into the 21st centuries and is housed in the museum archives.

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How to donate artifacts to the History Division collections

Nearly all of our artifacts have come to us through generous donations from the public. We greatly appreciate your thinking of the San Bernardino County Museum as a home for your special items. In order to better serve you, we ask that you call ahead to make an appointment so that we can personally talk to you and see the artifact(s) you are interested in donating. Walk-ins may find us out at an historic site or otherwise unable to help you and we do not want to waste your valuable time. Due to our Ethics Policy, we do not do appraisals of artifacts.

When ready to donate an item, please gather together all of the information you can find about previous ownership of the artifact(s), photographs showing it in use, and any other information you have to share. We will want to discuss information such as who used the item, where, how, when, for what, and why so that the artifact can be better shared with others through research, exhibition, and other types of interpretation.

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San Bernardino County Museum - (909) 307-2669 - 2024 Orange Tree Lane, Redlands, California 92374

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