How to donate historical items

Find out what objects and records our museum and archives collect and how we decide what to collect.

Historical Red Cross prisoners of war poster.

The British Red Cross museum and archives exist to collect, preserve and make accessible to a wide audience the history of the organisation and its place within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It also actively supports the work of the British Red Cross today.

What we collect

We collect material relating to the British Red Cross from our formation in 1870 to the present day.

The objects and records we collect reflect our humanitarian work in the UK and overseas.

The museum collection contains objects within the following areas:

  • health, medical and social care equipment
  • protective and relief equipment
  • art (paintings, drawings, posters, sculptures, models)
  • uniform and textiles (we can only collect uniforms if they are associated with a person of interest)
  • awards, medals and badges (we can only collect medals and badges if they are associated with a person of interest, as defined by the curator)
  • toys and games
  • commemorative material
  • communications equipment
  • fundraising equipment
  • gifts and souvenirs.

We also collect records documenting the development of the British Red Cross as an organisation. Our archive collection contains material from our headquarters and from offices across the country.

These records include:

  • official records, including minute books and annual reports
  • records of our activity and service delivery, including publications and project files
  • audio-visual material, including film, photographs and audio records about our work, staff and volunteers

Our collection also includes records from organisations with which we have significant connections, such as the joint work undertaken with the Order of St John.

We accept some records from people who have volunteered with the British Red Cross or received assistance from us.

How we decide what to collect

We welcome offers of donations from the public. We're always seeking to add new material that increases our knowledge of the history of the British Red Cross.

However, we are not able to accept all the material offered to us. We have a collections development policy (Word) to help us decide what material we should and should not take into our collections.

We carry out an appraisal of all donations before they are accepted. This takes into account whether the material being offered for donation:

  • has a strong connection to the history and work of the British Red Cross
  • is in good physical condition
  • duplicates material already held in our collections

This appraisal process is carried out to ensure that we have the resources to care for items in our collections to the highest possible standards.

If you would like more information on how to donate a historical item, please email Please don't send items to us unless we have asked you to.