NHPRC News — June 2016

Inside the Commission

Archivist Awards $3.2 Million in New Grants

Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero has awarded 30 proposals totaling $3,183,844 for projects in 19 states. The National Archives grants program is carried out through the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). A complete list of new grants is available at http://www.archives.gov/nhprc/awards/awards-5-16.html.

Grants went to 16 documentary editing projects to publish the papers of key American figures, including three new projects—the Yale Indian Papers, the Robert Treat Paine Papers, and the Pinckney Statesmen of South Carolina. A grant also went to the Association for Documentary Editing to hold the Institute for Editing Historical Documents, now in its 45th year.

Five projects will undertake digitization and publishing historical records collections online documenting: the 1970 shootings at Kent State; James R. Mead, the plainsman and co-founder of Wichita, Kansas; the late 19th century president of Johns Hopkins University Daniel C. Gilman; printed materials from the Pan Am World Airways collection at the University of Miami; and American writer Hamlin Garland. A project at the Bancroft Library will also process approximately 500 linear feet drawn from 13 environmental organizations' collections.

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Three projects will process electronic records from State governments in Colorado, Illinois, and Alabama. Efforts to increase public engagement and use of archives will take place at the University of Rochester with work on the Seward Family papers; the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s collaborative to introduce middle and high school students to use historical records to track wildlife species and study forests; a family history project for 10th graders in Queens, New York; and a history curriculum initiative in South Carolina using historical documents in digital collections.

The New Strategic Plan: What It Means For You

At its May 2016 meeting, the Commission adopted a new Strategic Plan. Through collaboration with the National Archives, other Federal agencies, and private funders, the Commission seeks to enhance its national leadership role; continue its support of our partners in the states; fund preservation and access, historical documentary editions, and professional development and training; and expand programs that enhance public participation in preserving and using historical records collections.

Publishing Projects

The Commission reiterated its long-standing support for ongoing historical documentary editions, while recognizing that publishing is undergoing major changes. New ways of conceiving and executing digital editions will shape the future of publishing historical collections. Beginning in October, Commission staff will organize/participate in a number of convenings to look for solutions around key issues:

Based on outcomes from these convenings, we expect to update our Publishing program no later than FY 2019.

Archives Projects

Expanding access to historical records collections is the primary goal of the Commission’s programs. Our new Access to Historical Records program will encompass all kinds of archival work, including processing, digitization, and electronic records. The intent behind our new program is to provide opportunities for both large-scale projects and smaller projects at diverse and underserved institutions. New guidelines, to be released later this summer, will follow a two-tiered annual cycle:

Digital Preservation and Access Projects

To provide leadership in the field, the NHPRC and the National Archives will host a biennial forum of practitioners and researchers that will focus on a single major aspect of digital records preservation and access. The first initiative, already in the planning stage, will focus on email preservation and access in state/federal settings. A symposium will gather up to 30 practitioners and researchers to review, discuss, and produce case studies and other writings intended to assist other repositories in advancing their digital records practices. The National Archives will serve as host and its staff will actively participate in these efforts.

State Historical Records Advisory Boards

In order to develop a stronger network of state boards, state archives, and state-based archival repositories, as well as further our cooperative relationship among the states and the National Archives, several challenges will be addressed. Activities include acquiring data from all of the states, holding a series of meetings with state coordinators focusing on the Commission’s strategic plan and the role of the states in addressing the plan’s objectives, and developing proposals for changes to the current state board system that will improve efforts to support archival repositories and the work they do. Over the next two years, the staff and state boards will discuss ways to implement new programming by FY 2019.

Public Engagement

The aspiration for the Public Engagement Initiative is to identify specific challenges and fund innovative pilot approaches. Each year staff will investigate new developments in public engagement being undertaken through the libraries, archives, and museum fields in key areas, including:

New guidelines for Public Engagement with Historical Records were posted in early June and the first deadline for draft proposals is July 26, 2016.

Download a copy of the NHPRC Strategic Plan

Grant Deadlines

The following Grant Opportunities are currently available:

News from the Field

Pacifica Radio Archives: It's a Wrap

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The Pacifica Radio Archives "American Women Making History and Culture: 1963-1982" project is completed. Now you can listen to nearly 2,000 recordings of stories about women in American history. All of the NHPRC grant project deliverables have been met. These include:

Visit the project's official webpage. Pacifica Radio Archives invites you to listen to these historic recordings and share with fellow students, researchers, professors, librarians, archivists, and media creators far and wide.

Picturing Colorado

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Through a grant from the NHPRC, History Colorado is undertaking a two-year project in support of its Colorado 20th-Century Photography Collections Project.

The Colorado 20th Century Project focuses on the following collections of photographs that document the modern face of Colorado and the American West in the twentieth century:

Adrienne Evans, Colorado 20th Century Photo Collections Project Archivist, is blogging about the project, and she has moved on to the massive Aultman Studio collection, 87 linear feet and some 50,000 photographs. She writes:

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"The Aultman Studio collection is not only remarkable for its size but also for the diversity of the subjects depicted in its portraits. Oliver Aultman was never one to discriminate against a paying customer, and as a result, the Aultman studio collection is a unique visual record of Trinidad's early residents. Trinidadians of African-American, Japanese, Hispanic, Native-American, and European descent all posed for Oliver and Glenn Aultman in their studio. The Aultmans also documented citizens of various professions including miners, bankers, shopkeepers, ranchers, and even prostitutes."

Archivists at History Colorado will spend 9 months on the collection. You can follow along at the History Colorado blog.

Regrants in Tennessee

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The Tennessee State Library and Archives has awarded more than $30,000 in grant funds to 15 organizations across the state to help preserve important historical records. These re-grants are funded through the partnership between the NHPRC and the Tennessee Historical Records Advisory Board.

"When historical records are lost, they are irreplaceable," Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "That's why the projects these 15 organizations are undertaking are so important. They are taking steps to ensure the historical treasures in their communities are properly preserved. I commend the work that the grant recipients are doing on behalf of our state's shared history."

The grant recipients are:

Help Transcribe Richard Yates


Can you read this? Could you transcribe this document and help make history?

Through a grant from the NHPRC, the Center for Digital Initiatives at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum has published online of the Papers of Governor Richard Yates Sr., the Civil War governor of Illinois. Now they are looking for volunteers to help transcribe the documents at Chronicling Illinois, the Center’s online archive.

The project includes the digitization of nearly 50,000 pages of documents, comprising nearly 15,000 documents from his four-year term. The documents come from the Yates Family Papers and from the Wabash Yates Papers at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.

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Richard Yates (1815-1873) was one of the most consequential Union war governors. Known as the "Soldier's Friend," Yates worked tirelessly to ensure that Illinois recruit, organize, and supply troops. Thousands of people, both rich and poor, wrote to Yates about a myriad of subjects, including political campaigns, requests for jobs and favors, pleas to have sons released from military service and activity by Southern-sympathizing Copperheads. Among his more prominent correspondents were General Ulysses S. Grant, General William T. Sherman, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, and, of course, President Abraham Lincoln.

Want to help transcribe those documents? Go to Chronicling Illinois at http://alplm-cdi.com/chroniclingillinois/scripto After creating an account, volunteers can transcribe handwritten documents through a simple interface or review the transcriptions of others to prepare them for online publication. Teachers can use the transcription process as a method of engaging students with primary source documents in a powerful way, while helping to improve the searchability of the archive through transcription.

Walt Whitman and Base Ball

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"In our sun-down perambulations, of late, through the outer parts of Brooklyn, we have observed several parties of youngsters playing 'base,' a certain game of ball." -- Walt Whitman, July 1846

The great American poet Walt Whitman enjoyed a good game of base ball. Commenting on the return of an American baseball tour of the world, his friend Horace Traubel remarked: "Did you see the baseball boys are home from their tour around the world? How I'd like to meet them—talk with them: maybe ask them some questions." I said: "Baseball is the hurrah game of the republic!" He was hilarious: "That's beautiful: the hurrah game! well—it's our game: that's the chief fact in connection with it: America's game: has the snap, go, fling, of the American atmosphere—belongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly, as our constitutions, laws: is just as important in the sum total of our historic life."


And his friend Peter Doyle wrote to him from Washington in September 1868: "Since you went away i have had a very bad cold, & i was afraid it would bring on the chills so i got off to day to get myself all right. There was a very exciting game of Base Ball Played here to day, between the Nationals, & the Olympics, both of this city, i went out to see them & enjoyed it very much when the game ended the score stood Nationals 21, Olympics 15 old Base Ball Players say it was one of the best games they ever saw."

You can read more about Whitman and base ball (and virtually everything else about his life and work) on the NHPRC-supported Walt Whitman Archive.

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