Collector’s Guide to Record Keeping

The details associated with an artifact should be considered as equally important as the object itself. Thorough documentation enriches an object’s intrinsic value, gives it meaning and context, and results in a stronger understanding of its uniqueness.

Proper collection records will document the following information:

  • When, how, and from whom an item was acquired
  • A full description of the object, including photographs
  • Details of any damage to the object
  • Details of any conservation or restoration treatments to the object
  • The exact location of where the artifact is stored/displayed




In this guide, we provide collectors with a museum-grade cataloging worksheet and glossary of terms. Simply download the guide and start documenting your collection!


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In addition to the long-term preservation of the artifacts in your collection, there are other reasons why record keeping is so important. Comprehensive documentation helps estate planners and insurers assign value to the collection. Furthermore, in the event of theft, detailed information will help police investigate, identify, and hopefully return the stolen items. Lastly, if an object were damaged, detailed records (along with photographs) may help in its restoration.

RELATED ARTICLE: Photographing Your Collection

Record keeping is only as good as the information recorded, so it’s important to keep your records current, complete, and securely stored. By thoroughly documenting each artifact, you will readily know what you have, where it’s located, and its condition—thus enabling you to make educated acquisition and preservation decisions.


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