National Historical Publications & Records Commission

ACCESS TO HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of this program?

This program funds projects to preserve, arrange, and create online descriptions for nationally significant archival materials, including born-digital records. Applicants must have an existing archival program.

The purpose of the program is to increase public access to historical records.

How long have you been funding these types of projects?

The NHPRC began funding records projects in 1974. Over the past four decades, the NHPRC has modified its records programming in order to encourage archival repositories to embrace emerging trends in the archives field.

This grant program is designed to support archival repositories in preserving and processing primary source materials. The program also emphasizes the creation of online tools—including EAD finding aids—that facilitate the public discovery of historical records.

Are we able to digitize records as part of this project?

Yes, but the main focus for projects in this program is on preserving and processing. You may also digitize collections or series that have undergone processing during the grant period. You may propose to preserve and convert analog audiovisual materials to digital format.

If you have already processed materials and now want to digitize them for greater public access over the Web should look at the Digital Dissemination of Archival Collections program.

Will this grant program support the preservation and processing of electronic records?

Yes, but applicants must have an existing electronic records program in place. This grant program does not support archival start-up projects of any kind.

Will this program fund preservation surveys or archival needs assessments?

No. Applicants interested in these activities might wish to research the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Preservation Assistance Grants program.

Has the Commission funded projects that involve work at several institutions?

Yes. Proposals may present a consortium approach as long as there is demonstrated institutional support at each organization. For the purposes of the SF-424 application form and ongoing grant administration, only one institution may serve as the formal applicant and project coordinator.

How often do you award grants for this program? How do I apply?

The NHPRC accepts applications for Access to Historical Documents once each year.

Our application process is through Grants.gov. The easiest way to keep track of the funding deadlines is to subscribe to their Find Grant Opportunities page. We are listed as a "Sub-Agency" under the National Archives and Records Administration. You should read our Apply for a Grant page for detailed instructions on how to apply. Do not wait until the deadline date to become familiar with Grants.gov.

Please briefly explain the formal review process.

After you have completed an application, NHPRC staff will send out your application to your State Historical Records Advisory Board and to 5-7 professional peer reviewers, all of whom will comment on your project’s narrative and budget. We will then send you these reviews along with a ”questions letter” in order that you might briefly clarify any unresolved matters before we submit the application to the Commission. Based on your response, reviewers’ comments, and staff recommendations, the Commission advises the Archivist of the United States, who makes the final decision on grant awards.

What role does the SHRAB play in the application and review process?

Most states have an active State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB). A list is available on the Council of State Archivists’ website. When you begin planning for your project, contact your SHRAB coordinator. SHRABs may offer advice and sometimes even review a draft of your proposal prior to application. If your SHRAB is inactive, you may still apply to NHPRC unless you are a state government agency. Following formal application, NHPRC staff will submit your proposal to the SHRAB for review. NHPRC staff will provide you with the SHRAB coordinator’s summarized review comments.

How much money are we expected to contribute to the total cost of our project?

We require the applicant institution to provide 50 percent or more of total project costs as cost share. Cost share can include both direct and indirect expenses, in-kind contributions, non-Federal third-party contributions, and any income earned directly by the project.

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