National Historical Publications & Records Commission

Overview of Proposed Changes to the NHPRC Grants Program

Frequently Asked Questions

What changes are being considered for the NHPRC grants program?
The National Historical Publications and Records Commission has developed draft grant announcements in six categories:

  •  Access to Historical Records – projects to support preserving and processing primary source materials.
  • Literacy & Engagement with Historical Records — projects to explore ways to improve digital literacy and encourage citizen engagement with historical records.
  • Online Publishing of Historical Records – projects to publish historical records online, including, compiling, digitizing, transcribing, and annotating documentary source materials.
  • Publishing Historical Records Online: Transition Support – projects to assist print-only documentary editions and documentary editions available only through paid subscriptions to complete their projects and/or provide free online access.
  • State Board Programming Grants – projects by state historical records advisory boards to enhance access to historical records, increase citizen engagement with records, and provide learning and development opportunities for students, citizens and professional archivists.
  • State Government Electronic Records — projects to accession, describe, preserve, and provide access to state government electronic records of enduring value.

If approved by the Commission, when do these changes take effect?
The changes begin in the next grants cycle, affecting project beginning in 2015.  Deadlines vary among programs, but the first set has a deadline of July 8, 2014 and the second set has a deadline of October 8, 2014. We have not changed our policy on draft applications; those may be submitted two months before the final deadlines, giving staff enough time to review and share suggestions with you.

Why are you proposing these these changes?

The NHPRC has long been focused on supporting public access to the nation's most significant historical records, and toward that end, we began funding documentary editions of those records in the 1960s. In the mid-1970s, our mission expanded to include funding projects at the state level and records preservation and access.

Over the past two years, the NHPRC staff has been reviewing the grants programs and Commission priorities with external advisors, representatives of professional associations, the Commissioners, leadership at the National Archives, and the Archivist of the United States. We have conducted a review of research and literature of the various archives and editing fields. Complementing new initiatives at the National Archives that emphasize access and use of the records of government, we will publish a new report The Digital Citizen and the American Record, which has three overarching Calls to Action:

  1. Accelerate digital literacy and citizen engagement.
  2. Create a National Partnership for Digital Government with state and local government archives.
  3. Expand online publishing of historical records.

With these goals in mind, we redesigned the new programs for our upcoming grant cycles.

Where do I go to find more information?

We've created a section on our blog Annotation (http://blogs.archives.gov/nhprc/ ) which includes an overview of each proposed program, a PDF of the Draft Grant Announcement, and information on how to participate in webinar discussions over the next two weeks.  We welcome your comments and encourage you to share your ideas.

I have received NHPRC grants for an ongoing historical documentary edition. What do these proposed changes mean to my project?

Ongoing documentary edition projects have two options. If you are already publishing an online edition that provides free access to the public, you should apply under the Online Publishing of Historical Records category.

If you are an ongoing documentary edition that has received NHPRC grants but you do not provide free online access to your edition, you should apply under the Publishing Historical Records Online: Transition Support category.  Our hope is that grant funds will assist you in online publication of your work. However, there are a small number of projects that cannot publish online editions or provide free access. We will provide funds for print-only projects as long as their completion date is no later than FY 2018.

What do you mean by "free online access?"

People should be able to view your entire online collection for free, without having to pay fees or subscriptions. Ideally, the entire collection should be fully searchable as well.  However, we consider a PDF of individual print volumes available for free on the web as meeting the requirement. If you have some other method of providing free online access, please let us know.

We want to digitize already-processed collections and put them online. Where do we go?

The NHPRC considers digitizing collections for online access as a preliminary form of publishing. We no longer support a stand-alone Digitization grant program, and you should apply under the Online Publishing of Historical Records program.  We have increased the number and budget of the new program to accommodate new digital projects.

We need to process archival collections and may want to put these materials online.  Where do we go?

For archival processing of historical records, read the grant announcement entitled Access to Historical Records.  If as part of the project plans, you also want to digitize records, you may include that activity in the proposal.

We have an electronic records processing and access project, and in the past, NHPRC has offered grants in Electronic Records. Where do we go?

If your institution is a state archives and you are interested in preserving and making available your permanent records, or in expanding your capacity to do so, you should apply in the State Government Electronic Records category. The aim of this category is to build capacity in the states for access to government electronic records. The program also encourages collaboration, so if your state archives wants to work with other types of archives to develop this capacity, the NHPRC will welcome those applications.

If your project is to process and provide access to your institution's electronic records or those collections deposited in your repository, you should apply under the Access to Historical Records category.

What else is eligible under the proposed Access to Historical Records category?

Traditional archives processing projects that may include a digitization component as a part of your processing activities, electronic records processing, preservation digitization or reformatting of unstable audio and visual records.

What is new about the State Board Programming Grants category?

As before, only state boards, or their fiscal agents, are eligible to apply. Our intent is to promote projects at the boards that emphasize public access to historical records within the state. We are encouraging state boards to take innovative and creative approaches to meet this goal.

What kinds of projects are you looking for under the proposed Literacy and Engagement with Historical Records category?

Our initial emphasis is in three areas: educational partnerships to teach digital archiving skills; innovative tools and applications, include mobile apps; and new or ongoing efforts to use crowdsourcing to provide greater access to online historical records.

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