The mission of the Effingham County Museum (ECM) is to preserve our Historic Register structure, to collect artifacts from county history, and to use them to educate our local and external communities, while immersed in the broader context of American history.

Within this document, physical artifacts are described as "objects."

Purpose of this document

The purpose of this document is to outline policy adopted by the board and carried out by the museum's volunteers as they legally and ethically carry out best practices collections work in a trustworthy and transparent way. Policies are reviewed periodically and revised as necessary.

The most recent version of this document is posted on the Museum's web page.

Legal status of Museum

The parent organization of the Effingham County Museum is the Effingham County Cultural Center and Museum Association, Incorporated. ECCCMA is classed as a private non-profit institution with tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) status.


The Effingham County Museum is housed in an 1872 Second Empire Style Courthouse that was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.  ECM is situated at 110 East Jefferson, in Effingham, Illinois.  The County of Effingham vacated the building in 2007, and the historic courthouse sat vacant for two years. The newly-formed Effingham County Cultural Center and Museum Association (ECCCMA) was incorporated in the State of Illinois in 2009.  ECCCMA was notified of its IRS and State of Illinois tax-exempt status that same year. In 2010, the county leased the building to ECCCMA for a 25-year term.  Bylaws were created; the ECM is governed by a nine-member board.

Volunteers removed materials that had been used to retrofit the building for 20th century needs, and incrementally returned the structural aspects of the building to something approximating its 19th century status over the next five years. The first floor of the ECM opened to the public in 2012, and the second level followed in 2015.  With the exception of license-required electrical and plumbing work, it was an all volunteer effort. The first floor contains five galleries and a center hall for static and rotating exhibits. The second level has exhibits on three walls and a central area for programming. The west half of that level is a recreated 19th century courtroom, highlighted by a central dome.     

There was a predecessor to ECCCMA; the Effingham County and National Road Association (ECNRA), which was incorporated as a not-for-profit in 2002. The group had actually existed since the late 1990s, but with a loose organizational structure, This seminal group collaborated with Eastern Illinois University's Historic Preservation Department to configure an organizational structure, with a collections policy being part of that effort.  When ECCCMA was formed, its first board adopted this collections policy with no modification. The early group also collected artifacts which transitioned over to ECCCMA, along with hand-written documentation and an associated set of digital photographs. ECCCMA acquired PastPerfect museum collection management software with a single computer license around 2014-5. A concerted effort to use the software began in 2017, with a combined endeavor to accession newly acquired artifacts, along with the backlog of the transitioned ECNRA collection that had never been processed.

Educational programming reflecting aspects of the collection began shortly after incorporation and increased yearly in breadth and depth. In addition to exhibits, ECM teaches the public about Effingham County history via lectures, special events, tours, a web site, two Facebook pages, conference presentations, and publications. Publications include a biweekly MUSEUM PAGE in the local paper, as well as state history and genealogy journals.

 ECM hosted a Conservation Assessment for Preservation (CAP) visit in 2018.  A new Strategic Plan was created with the assistance of a grant-funded outside facilitator in 2018. Later that year, ECM enrolled in the Standards of Excellence Program for History Organizations (StEPs) sponsored by the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH). As a result of these activities, ECM accepted the need to change its collection policies and practices. This policy document is the result.



4.21    The primary rationale for accepting a donation is the potential of the donated object to further ECM's educational mission.  The ECM collection plan is built around major threads traceable across the county's history:

●        Five core human institutions-family, religion, education, economics,  politics/government

●        Townships, towns, villages

 ●        Transportation

●        Occupations/professions

●        Military service

●        Contextual connections to regional, state, national, and/or international events.

4.22   ECM has three classes of physical objects in its collections:

a.        core objects, accessioned

b.        teaching objects, non-accessioned

c.        research objects, non-accessioned.  

4.23    As part of periodic policy review, ECM examines the collection's scope searching  to identify gaps in the collection.

4.24    In the broadest sense, categories within the ECM Collection include:

a.        the courthouse building

b.        objects

c.        archives

d.        emergent digital content

4.25    The volunteer Collection Coordinator has primary oversight of Collections Management.


4.31    Acquisition refers to the process of obtaining an object, which is confined to donated objects at ECM. The Museum strives for transparency and simplicity when accepting or refusing potential donation

4.32    If ECM accepts a donation, it pledges to hold it in the public trust, and to properly record, use, store, preserve and conserve the object. ECM accomplishes this goal by creating, updating and following a collections management policy.

4.33    ECM may decline any object or digital file.

4.34    All gifts must be free of riders or other conditions.

4.35    A deed-of-gift form must be completed for every donation. The deed-of-gift form must be signed and dated by the donor and the ECM representative. Procedural aspects of the acquisition process will be addressed within the deed-of-gift form.

 4.36   Donor appointments with the Collection Coordinator are encouraged to facilitate the acquisition process.  Any board member may accept a donation, provided the board member assents to complying with the procedures developed to carry out  the process. Large-in-size or complex potential donations will be addressed at the ECM's next monthly board meeting.

4.37    Drop in donations are discouraged. If a drop-in donation is offered, any current board  member may accept and complete the required Deed-of-Gift document. In the event that a board member is not present, a non-board member volunteer may conditionally accept a drop-in donation by documenting it on a Temporary Custody Record.

4.38    Drive-by/drop-off donations are never acceptable.

4.39    The Collection Coordinator shares accept/decline decision responsibility about potential donations with an ad hoc committee. The ad hoc committee consists o  the Coordinator and at least one other current board member. Decisions may be made electronically.


4.41     Accepted objects will be accessed if they meet these criteria:

*They fall within the scope of the collection plan themes.

*There is no identical or nearly identical object in the collection.

*They are not too large, too heavy, too fragile or otherwise a poor fit for the storage area.

*They are in good condition, i.e. not dirty, degraded or damaged.

*They possess a defined provenance to demonstrate authenticity.

*They originate from a time after the county's creation (1831).

4.42    Accession activities will be conducted in a dedicated and secure environment.

4.43    Museum volunteers will collect information from each donor to establish the provenance of each object. This handwritten document will be stored with the deed-of-gift in a loose-leaf Accessions binder in a fire-resistant vertical file.          

4.44    In order to avoid conflicts of interest and to remain compliant with the Policy 1.8 Code of Ethics, museum volunteers do not personally profit from donations in any way. They cannot perform appraisals, nor can they arrange for appraisals. Any activity that could be potentially perceived as a conflict of interest should be mentioned on the annual Board Member Conflict of Interest Report filing.


4.51    Core objects have the highest historic importance and require the most care.

a.        Long-range conservation goals will be established for core objects.

b.        A procedural document for managing core objects will guide volunteers.

c.        ECM will perform minor conservation under the guidance of professional conservator.

d.        ECM will utilize American Institute for Conservation's list of professional conservators.

4.52    Preservation and conservation activities will be conducted in a dedicated and secure environment.

a.        Monitored collection storage environment parameters will include  temperature range, relative humidity, ambient light and ultraviolet light.

b.        Guests using any part of any collection for research will do so in a monitored environment.

4.53    Teaching and research objects can be used inside and outside the museum and require a lower level of care.

a.        Selected portions of teaching and research objects may be consumed.

4.54    Dedicated and secure storage will be assigned to foundational documents, institutional documents, board minutes, financial statements, newsletters, annual reports, visitor guides, external publications, and other unique important printed material.

4.55    Nationally recognized standards will be applied to tagging objects.

4.56    Objects new to ECM collections will be prepared for storage using appropriate materials congruent with national standards.

4.57    Storage materials for accessioned objects will be upgraded during the inventory process, as appropriate to meet national standards.

4.58     Collection care materials and volunteer continuing education will be line items in the fiscal year budget.

4.59    Collection storage housekeeping practices will meet national standards.


4.61    ECM volunteers will establish the copyright status of new acquisitions by way of the required Donor Questionnaire.

4.62    ECM authors will note permission to use photographs and/or clips from the museum's collections in manuscripts slated for publication.

4.63    ECM will grant visitors permission to photograph objects on exhibit, provided their copyright status is known and if relevant, and flash is avoided.

4.64    ECM will grant researchers' permission to use images of objects from the museum, provided credit is given, and if the copyright status of the object is known, if relevant.

4.65    Digital collections are an emergent category at ECM:

a.        ECM recognizes the high potential for increased access associated with digital images.

b.        Digitization is defined by ECM as the process of creating a digital file by scanning a photograph or some other analog material. ECM defines thisproduct as a digital surrogate.

c.        ECM differentiates digital surrogates from born-digital images that did not go through a conversion process.

d.        Acceptable digital storage formats at ECM include two types of files:

                     (1)      PDF

                     (2)      JPG

e.        Digital file names will mirror the digital file's accession number.

f.         Space limitations prohibit ECM from accepting multimedia and audio files (for example, file extensions such as .wav or .3gp).

4.66    ECM will decline to accession any proposed digital donation that does not include copyright transfer, and will request copyright transfer for all teaching and research objects.

a.   Copyright transfer of digital images to ECM will include the right to reformat the image.                                                                                     

b.        Digital donations will be classed as either born-digital or digital surrogate.

4.67    ECM will utilize Copyright and Cultural Institutions (Peter B. Hirtle et al, 2009, Cornell University, 275 pages) to answer copyright questions, available on-line at

4.7 LOANS at ECM

4.71    All ECM loans will be for a period of one year with the option to renew, but the overall loan period cannot exceed three years. There will be no permanent loans.

4.72    Incoming loans to ECM from local non-profits will be only for the purpose of enhancing exhibits or promoting scholarship.

4.73    The incoming loaning party will sign a properly constructed loan form that will include a condition report. The loan will be insured by the Museum's carrier unless insurance is waived.  The incoming loan will be approved by the board, and the associated paperwork will be archived in a Loans binder.  Procedural aspects of the process will be addressed within the loan document.

4.74    Outgoing loans from ECM will be made only to promote scholarship or for display in an exhibit at a school or at a non-profit with a mission similar to that of ECM.

4.75    ECM recognizes that out-going loans may negatively impact access to, and the status of core objects, and will exercise diligence to maintain object preservation.

4.76    The borrower will furnish proof of insurance, unless insurance is waived. The borrower will sign a properly constructed loan form that includes a condition report.The outgoing loan must be approved by the board and the associated paperwork will be archived in a Loans binder. Procedural aspects of the process will be addressed within the loan document.

4. 77   Incoming traveling exhibits originating from outside the county will be held to the standards of the loaning agency.

4. 78   ECM will address long-term loans and undocumented property in this manner:

a.  In the event a long-term loan would be discovered, ECM will resolve the matter as directed by the Illinois Museum Disposition of Property Act (765 ICLS 1033: PA 90-604, effective 1-1-99), and specifically by:

           (1) giving notice as directed by Section 15,

           (2) conserving or disposing of it as directed in Section 30,

           (3) retaining all associated documents in a Loans binder.

b. In the event that undocumented property would be discovered, ECM will resolve the matter as directed by the Illinois Museum Disposition of Property Act (765 ICLS 1033: PA 90-604, effective 1-1-99), and specifically by:

                     (1) acquiring title as directed by Section 35,

                     (2) retaining all associated documents in a Loans binder.

c.  Illinois Compiled Statutes are available @


4.81    From time to time, ECM may choose to remove an object or a group of objects from its accessioned collections, a process ECM defines as deaccession, in order to refine, upgrade, or fill gaps in the scope of the collection. ECM strives for transparency in deaccession and disposal processes.

4.82    Because ECM holds acquisitions from donors in the public trust, ECM will notsell or give away accessioned objects.

4.83    ECM may remove an object from accession and repurpose it as a non-accessioned research object or teaching object. Storage and care rendered will be less intense, and the object may be handled by the public in research or teaching/learning venues.

4.84    Deaccession is performed only for valid reasons. Valid reasons for deaccession at ECM include:

*Object has a diminished role in fulfilling the museum's educational purpose (out of scope).

*Object is a duplicate in poorer condition than other similar ones.

*Object is in a degraded condition not appropriate for exhibit or other use.

*Object requires care or conservation out of proportion to its potential educational                     use.

*Object occupies space in storage out of proportion to its benefit to the museum.

4.85    Objects must have been in ECM's possession for a minimum of two years to be considered for deaccession.

4.86    Deaccession will be performed only after deliberate consideration of the facts by the Museum board. When deaccession of an object or a group of objects is proposed, a list of potentially deaccessioned objects, along with the rationale for their deaccession and their new proposed role, will be formally presented to the board for a vote. A simple majority is required to pass. This vote will be recorded in the minutes.

4.87    Information about  deaccessioned objects and their repurposed role as teaching or research objects will be shared with the public.

4.88    Deaccession records will be archived in a Deaccession binder.

4.89    Upon occasion, the Board may vote to deviate from some element of this policy.


4.91      ECM will create and utilize two special collections, namely the:

a. Teaching collection

b. Research collection

4.92    Newly acquired special collection objects will not be accessioned.

4.93    Non-accessioned teaching and research objects will be accounted for in a non-complex computerized data base.

4.94    Special collection items repurposed from accessioned status will be rendered a lower level of preservation, documentation, storage, and security.

4.95    Teaching and research objects will be housed primarily in the law library on the 3rd level and the bookcases on the south wall of the 2nd level.

4.96    Portions of some special collection objects may be consumed.


4.101  ECM grants the public access to the museum's core collections in these ways:

a.        exhibits and tours

b.        programs

c.        publications

d.        electronically, via web site and social media

4.102  ECM provides access for use of teaching and research collections at special events, and to individuals upon request.

4.103  ECM provides access to use accessioned materials to bona fide researchers upon request, and under direct supervision.

4.104  ECM data bases are not open to the public, but ECM will provide Past Perfect topical research guides for the use of credentialed researchers.

4.105  Researchers will be asked to complete a Research Interest and Access Request Form, and will be required to sign in and sign out and sign out of the facility. Procedural aspects are addressed within the form.

4.106  Reasonable copy requests from researchers will be granted, provided a volunteer is available to provide the service.  A nominal fee of 25¢ per copy will be requested.


4.111  ECM aims to collect evidence to support the records of the collections in a manner that is clear, complete, legible, permanent and congruent with national standards.

4.112 ECM defines the catalog as the sum of the physical and digital evidence of the registration as well as associated information collected about objects during acquisition, accession and inventory.

4.113 Documentation types will include paper and electronic formats:




Deed-of-gift and Temporary custody



Donor Questionnaire












Object labels






Institutional and foundational documents







4.114  Documentation will be preserved in this manner:

a. Paper documents will be stored in one or more locked fire-resistant files.

b. Electronic records will stored on a dedicated password protected computer.

c. Information recorded will be retained in perpetuity or until this policy changes.

4.115  Registration is defined by ECM as the creation of a permanent record of an object with a unique control number.  The permanent registration record will contain this information about each object:

           ●        Control number

           ●        Name of object

           ●        Donor/source

           ●        Description, including measurements if relevant

           ●        Provenance

           ●        Date of donation

           ●        Condition

           ●        Storage box number or other locator guide

           ●        Photograph

4.116  In order to create a controlled list of terms for labeling objects that can be arranged in a logical hierarchy, object naming at ECM will be based on the taxonomy from the Revised Nomenclature for Museum Cataloguing, as

available on-line @


4.121  ECM will provide for the security of the 1872 museum structure and the collections it houses by several means, including by not limited to:

a. keys and locks on doors and exhibit cases

b. numeric codes

c. magnetic pulls on doors

d. electronic intrusion alarm with 24 hour off-site response

e. controlled access to non-public areas

f. locked and fire-resistant file cabinet(s)

g.  password protected computer data bases

h. off-site electronic computer backup

i. visual oversight by the Effingham County Sheriff's office and the County Building and Grounds staff

4.122  Collections storage areas will not be accessible to the public.

4.123  Keys will be limited in number and assigned to board members only as task completion makes necessary.

4.124  The Knox Box will supply necessary information to fire and law enforcement personnel.

4.125  Access by renters to the event center on level two will be controlled and directly monitored.

4.126  Tour groups will be time-limited and size-limited in a manner allowing for direct visualization by volunteer docents.

4.127  ECM volunteers will cooperate with law enforcement and fire personnel in the event of an emergency to ensure continued building and collection integrity.


4.131 ECM will comply with the protections contained in Policy 5.4 Emergency Operations by:

a. recognizing situations with a potential to cause damage or loss, including acts of nature and acts by third parties.

b. prioritizing human safety.

4.132  Risk management strategies used at ECM include, but are not limited to:

a.        Manual locks and electronic devices

b.        Physical inspections of premises

c.        Elevator service, inspections and phone service

d.        Fire doors, alarms, extinguishers, and lighted exit signs

e.        Regular testing of alarms and extinguishers

f.         Annual recharge of fire extinguishers

g.        ADA compliance for entry, egress, restrooms, and parking

h.        Public access numeric limits

i.         Contracts for event center use

j.        Acid-free storage boxes, paper and photo envelopes

k.         Hand sanitizers and masks available

l.        First aid kits and Stop-the-Bleed kits

n.         Human safety trainings

o.       Liaison with fire department's EMA designee

4.133  ECM will establish clear lines of communication and collaboration with the local fire department and law enforcement agencies.

4.134  Volunteers will engage in appropriate human safety and object salvage trainings.


4.141 ECM will maintain insurance coverage that complies with the requirements of the:

a.  Effingham County-Effingham County Cultural Center and Museum Association Building Use Agreement, Section 9 Property and Liability Insurance

b. Effingham County Cultural Center and Museum Association Bylaws, Section 4 Indemnification.

4.142  The insurance policy fee will be a line item in the annual budget.

4.143 The ECM President will be responsible for:

a.        obtaining and sustaining the necessary coverage.

b.        securing the policy itself.

c.        maintaining insurance records.

d.        filing and tracking claims.

4.144  The ECM President may delegate the responsibilities in 4.114 to another board member.

4.145   ECM may request a plain language Executive Summary of the policy contents at the forefront of the













Hours & Location

100 E. Jefferson Ave.,
Effingham, IL 62401

Daytime Hours:
(January-February)- By appointment only and some special evening hours, TBA
Phone: 217.240.2471 to leave a message

(March through December)
Tuesday and Saturday 10 a.m-2 p.m.

Evening Hours:
6:00-7:00 p.m. on night of lecture series, November-March
Other times by appointment: Call (217)240-2471 to leave a message

ECCCMA Meeting Schedule

Board Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m. at the court-house first floor courtroom. For information contact Delaine Donaldson, President at:

General Membership Meetings are held once a month of the second Tuesday of the month at 6:00 p.m. at the court-house first floor courtroom.

Our MISSION is to preserve our Historic Register structure, to collect artifacts from county history, and to use them to educate our local and external communities, while immersed in the broader context of American history.

Our VISION is that the 1872 Effingham County Courthouse remains as an architectural gem that instills a sense of community pride and provides a venue to
educate and showcase the history, art, and transportation of Effingham County.

Get Involved

On November 11, 2012, the Museum opened its doors to the public. Currently there are exhibits on the first floor and the second floor. On the second floor there is exhibit space as well as room for lectures and other types of public gatherings.