Collections

Over 250 years of Sandy Spring Neighborhood’s history comes to life through the Museum’s collections. Sandy Spring Museum is steward of a tremendous breadth of items related to the remarkable history of the Sandy Spring neighborhood and its ever-changing cultural landscape. These collections chronicle the community’s evolution from a network of rural and predominantly Quaker villages to a place where bucolic fields abut a bustling, diverse suburb of Washington, D.C.’s greater metropolitan area.

Artifact Collection

Each of the 4,600 artifacts in the Museum’s collection can be linked to the Sandy Spring Neighborhood’s landscape, people, businesses and/or formative events. As individual objects, the items represent multiple aspects of the lives of the area’s residents. Collectively, they illustrate the values, resources, and distinct histories of the neighborhood’s population throughout the past 250 years.

The collection includes a wide variety of artifacts related to domestic life, local economies, and notable residents and institutions. Ranging from the ordinary to the elegant, the collection encompasses following categories:

  • Costume and textiles
  • Farm and vocational tools
  • Fine and decorative art
  • Furniture
  • Kitchen and housewares
  • Memorabilia and mementos
  • Recreational objects

Archives

The museum’s archives is in the process of being digitized and is now available online. Click here to browse the archives.

The Archives is a rich collection of documents, photographs, and oral histories that provide tremendous depth and complexity to the community’s historic narrative.  The document collection is comprised of close to 10,000 individual items; more than half are original materials with sixty-five percent of these dating between 1850 and 1950. The collection also includes over 1700 items of locally-relevant printed ephemera as well as original reproductions and commemorative publications related to historic institutions and businesses.

The strengths of the collection include:

  • PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE: Personal letters between friends and family – with direct or indirect reference to the Sandy Spring – comprises ten percent of the original document collection with over sixty-two percent dating prior to 1900.
  • DIARIES: The Archive’s diary collection contains record of activities and musings for over 25 individuals who collectively capture more than 150 years of daily life in the Sandy Spring neighborhood. Three individual collections of 20 years or more are included. Over sixty percent of the diary collection dates to the 19th century.
  • LEDGERS: The collection of ledgers offers a snapshot of interactions among local residents not otherwise captured elsewhere. The collection is comprised of account books for local businesses including the general stores in Ashton, Sandy Spring, Brighton, and Brookeville. These date from 1819 through to the mid-20th Also included are the physician’s ledgers of Caleb Edward Iddings who practiced medicine locally beginning in 1877.
  • CLUB MEETING MINUTES: Among the museum’s most cherished holdings are the complete assemblage of meeting minutes for the community’s many social clubs, some of which are the oldest, continually-meeting clubs of their kind in the United States.  The museum’s archive contains minutes from the Women’s Mutual Improvement Society founded in 1857, the Horticultural Society founded in 1863, the Enterprise Farmers’ Club founded in 1865, the Neighbors Club founded in 1897, and the Wednesday Club founded in 1904. Because these clubs are still meeting, the archive is always evolving.

Gifts and Donations

Sandy Spring Museum is an active collecting institution that grows entirely by donation. The Museum aims to be representative of the distinct histories and experiences of ALL its residents and thus, gifts of diaries, letters, photographs, organizational records, archival materials, artwork and other artifacts are essential in this pursuit.

It is not possible however, to accept everything that is offered.  Donations are accepted at the discretion of the Board of Trustees and must fit within the collection policy.  If you would like to discuss a possible donation please contact the Museum staff via email.