National Historical Publications & Records Commission

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NHPRC Strategic Plan Goals Framework

August 2015

A full presentation of this plan is available on YouTube that will provide some background and context for the work of the NHPRC and how we drafted this Preliminary Strategic Planning Goals Framework, and we encourage you to review it.

As we begin our Strategic Planning process, the Commission has met and discussed its enduring strengths, ongoing mission, current programming, and broad needs for the preservation and use of historical records. Out of this initial discussion, the staff has put together a preliminary overview of some future goals and directions for the Commission. Some of these ideas would require additional resources, including funding partnerships.

Expand access to the nation’s historical records.

The primary role of the Commission is to provide opportunities for the American people to discover and use records that increase understanding of our democracy, history, and culture. To that end, the National Archives funds projects that publish collections of historical records—including documentary editions in print and online versions and digital editions online. Several challenges have arisen during this transitional period, and the Commission will use its regular programming and seek new funding to:

  • Support multiple levels of access leading to online access and to open access
  • Promote the development and use of standards for online publishing of collections
  • Identify historically significant collections in need of a national initiative for full online access
  • Partner with and support collaborative and collective projects for long-term sustainability of digital resources

Engage the American people in preserving the American record.

A key challenge ahead is to help grantees engage directly with people in their communities and online. Along with efforts for greater public engagement, archives are encouraging people to learn critical thinking skills and basic research techniques when seeking and using historical records in both analog and digital formats. The National Archives has enlisted Citizen Archivists in crowdsourcing, and the Commission will seek to broaden that practice and to:

  • Encourage new organizational methods for crowdsourcing for historical records
  • Promote educational/training efforts for Citizen Archivists at other archives
  • Collaborate with state boards on local and statewide grassroots projects

Provide leadership through the National Archives.

The National Archives plays a key national leadership role in developing and promoting best practices, model programs, and partnerships among the nation’s vast network of archives and documentary editing projects. Through the Commission, the National Archives seeks to:

  • Build state partnerships around key needs, such as electronic records management
  • Continue to support professional development opportunities for archivists and documentary editors
  • Fund research, development, and dissemination of best practices
  • Collaborate with other funders on initiatives and programs

Adapt Commission practices to extend its reach and leverage.

The Commission seeks to encourage a more inclusive pool of applicants that represents the rich diversity of America’s culture and history. To that end, it will seek ways to demonstrate the public impact of its programming and to improve its internal management processes to:

  • Streamline its application and review processes
  • Clarify language re "national significance" to encourage a wider pool of applicants
  • Strengthen the connection of its grants program to the imprimatur of the National Archives
This is a preliminary draft of the NHPRC Strategic Plan. We hope to complete our work by December 2015. To add your comments and suggestions, go to our blog Annotation.

To make comments or to request additional information, please contact

National Historical Publications & Records Commission >

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272