National Historical Publications & Records Commission

Access to Historical Records

FY 2017 Grant Announcement: (Initial)

Access to Historical Records

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) of the National Archives supports projects that promote access to America's historical records to encourage understanding of our democracy, history, and culture.

The following grant application information is for Access to Historical Records projects.

Funding Opportunity Number:   ACCESS-201606

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number:   89.003

  • Draft Deadline (optional):   April 4, 2016
  • Final Deadline:   June 15, 2016

NHPRC support begins no earlier than January 1, 2017.

Grant Program Description

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission seeks proposals that promote the preservation and use of historical records collections to broaden understanding of our democracy, history, and culture. This grant program is designed to support archival repositories in preserving and processing primary source materials. The program emphasizes the creation of online tools that facilitate the public discovery of historical records.

The Commission looks to fund projects that undertake one or more of the following activities:

  • Preservation, arrangement, and online description of historical records in all formats
  • Digital preservation of electronic records and unstable audio or moving image formats

After completing arrangement and description activities, applicants may also propose to digitize materials to provide online access to collections.

For a comprehensive list of Commission limitations on funding, please see "What we do and do not fund". Applications that consist entirely of ineligible activities will not be considered.

Award Information

A grant is for one or two years and for up to $200,000. The Commission expects to make up to 14 grants in this category for a total of up to $1,000,000. Grants begin no earlier than January 1, 2017.

The Commission requires that grant recipients acknowledge NHPRC grant assistance in all publications and other products that result from its support.


Eligible applicants:

  • U.S. nonprofit organizations or institutions
  • U.S. colleges, universities, and other academic institutions
  • State or local government agencies
  • Federally-acknowledged or state-recognized Native American tribes or groups

Cost Sharing

The total costs of a project are shared between the NHPRC and the applicant organization.

The Commission provides no more than 50 per cent of total direct project costs in the Access to Historical Records category. NHPRC grant recipients are not permitted to use grant funds for indirect costs (as indicated in 2 CFR 2600.101).

Cost sharing is required. The applicant’s financial contribution may include both direct and indirect expenses, in-kind contributions, non-Federal third-party contributions, and any income earned directly by the project. Indirect costs must be listed under the applicant’s cost sharing contribution.

Other Requirements

Applicant organizations must be registered in the System for Award Management (SAM) prior to submitting an application, maintain SAM registration throughout the application and award process, and include a valid DUNS number in their application. Details on SAM registration and requesting a DUNS number can be found at the System for Award Management website at Please refer to the User Guides section and the Grants Registrations PDF.

A complete application includes the Application for Federal Assistance (Standard Form 424), Assurances -- Non-Construction Programs (Standard Form 424B), a Project Narrative, Summary, Supplementary Materials, and Budget. Applications lacking these items will not be considered.

Ineligible applications will not be reviewed.

Application and Submission Information

All information necessary to apply is included in this announcement. If you need the information supplied in an alternative format, please call the NHPRC at 202-357-5010.

Applicants should follow the instructions on how to fill out the online forms and apply electronically using the Application Instructions.

The NHPRC requires that grant applications be submitted via In the event that is experiencing technical difficulties that prevent submission, applicants must first attempt to resolve the issue with the Contact Center (800-518-4726). If cannot solve the problem, applicants may request an alternative. To make use of the NHPRC backup system, applicants must contact Jeff De La Concepcion (202-357-5022) no later than 3:00 Eastern Time on the day of the deadline with their valid Contact Center trouble-ticket number.

In order to ensure eligibility, applicants should first review the rules and regulations governing NHPRC grants under the Administering an NHPRC Grant section.

Applicants are encouraged to submit drafts by April 4, 2016, but drafts are not required. The drafts should be sent by email to the Director of the Access Program, Alex Lorch ( and should include a draft narrative and budget.

Project Narrative

The Project Narrative is a description of the proposal. It should be no more than 20 double-spaced pages in 12-pt type formatted for 8.5 x 11 inch paper with standard margins.

Please organize your narrative in these sections:

  1. Overview: Begin with an overview of the project. Describe the collections and show how the records would broaden public understanding of our democracy, history, and culture. Characterize the project’s intended audience.

  2. Archives Program Description: Briefly summarize your organization's history, mission, and goals with an emphasis on its archival programs. Describe the nature and scope of your holdings and your access policies for public use of your holdings, including days and hours of operation. Briefly discuss the repository’s environmental and security controls.

  3. Description of Collections: Describe the materials that will be processed during this project, including the quantity in cubic or linear feet, topical matters, formats, dates, and their historical significance. For projects with born digital materials, provide the number of files and bytes to be processed. Demonstrate why each collection should be processed at the collection, series, box, folder, or item level. Describe the current demand and the physical condition of the materials. Provide use statistics. Explain how you expect this project to change usage levels.

  4. Archival Methodologies: Describe your current processing methodologies and detail the ways in which you plan to describe the materials. Explain what preservation treatments are necessary and the cost estimates to preserve these items. Detail the specific methods used for any preservation reformatting of audio or moving image materials.

  • If you plan to digitize selected series or collections, provide detailed descriptions of your equipment and resources, metadata standards, and professional scanning practices. State clearly how your project will repurpose existing descriptive information to serve as metadata. Outline your institution's long-term preservation plan (or provide a link to it online). Specify cost estimates for digitized items in detailed charts in the supplemental materials.

  • If you plan to process born-digital materials, explain your current electronic records program and methods of preserving and providing access to electronic records. Describe the nature of the electronic records you expect to manage in terms of content, number of files, and bytes. Explain which of these electronic records have permanent value according to records retention policies, legal status, and historical value.

  • Project Products: Describe and quantify the products you plan to produce for the completed project. This includes collections, catalog records, finding aids, digitized items, electronic files, and related publicity materials. Applicants should contribute MARC records to appropriate national bibliographic utilities and use Encoded Archival Description (EAD) to place finding aids on the Internet or explain why other formats may be appropriate.

  • Project Publicity: Describe how you will publicize the results during the project, including websites, press releases, professional newsletters and journals, and the use of Web 2.0 applications. Identify appropriate professional conferences at which to present ideas and findings about their projects. Applicants are encouraged to consider how to broaden the project’s reach through appropriate citizen engagement techniques like crowdsourcing, tagging, geo-location, wiki sites, direct user feedback, and mobile applications. Outline the methods your institution will use to evaluate the project (e.g., researchers' surveys, website usage, or other methods).

  • Plan of Work: Provide evidence of planning and a realistic scope of work for the project. Describe each stage of the work plan and provide a time chart identifying the personnel required for each activity (in the supplemental materials).

  • Qualifications of Staff: Provide a narrative explanation of the skills and qualifications of project staff. For those yet to be hired, provide a job description or announcement. Explain any planned professional development for project staff. In your supplementary materials, provide brief résumés of not more than two pages per person for all staff named in the project budget and job descriptions for people to be hired.

  • Performance Objectives: List six to eight quantifiable performance objectives that will allow you and the Commission to evaluate the project as you submit interim and final reports. Performance objectives might include the number or volume of collections processed or described, the number of items digitized, or types of new procedures put in place to expedite access to collections.
  • Project Summary

    The Project Summary should be no more than 3 double-spaced pages in 12-pt type with standard margins, and it must include these sections:

    • Purposes and Goals of the Project
    • Plan of Work for the Grant Period
    • Products and Publications to be completed during the Grant Period
    • Names, Titles, Institutions, Phone Numbers, and E-Mail Addresses of the Project Director and Key Personnel
      Please ensure that the project director listed on this summary is the same person listed in Section 8 (f), of the SF 424. If your institution requires a different contact person on the SF 424, please explain in one sentence.
    • Performance Objectives

    Supplementary Materials

    Prepare up to 20 pages of Supplementary Materials to your Narrative, including:

    • Brief résumés of named staff members (please use only institutional addresses and phone numbers and limit to two pages per staff member)
    • Position descriptions for staff to be hired with grant funds
    • Detailed work plan charts that supplement the Narrative
    • Institution's preservation plan for digital materials
    • Samples from existing finding aid(s) or indexes for selected materials
    • Letters of support
    • Statements of commitment to the project by partners (if applicable)

    If these materials are available on a web site, please provide the URL(s). Reviewers appreciate application with fewer supplemental pages.

    Project Budget

    You must submit a budget on the NHPRC Budget Form available on the Application Instructions page. Note that the form itself contains additional instructions. You may include with your application a narrative budget supplement for budget categories that require further detail. Provide specific budget figures, rounding to the nearest dollar.

    Applicants will be asked to compute the project costs to be charged to NHPRC Federal grant funds as well as those that will be supported by the applicant. The applicant’s cost sharing includes both direct and indirect expenses, in-kind contributions, non-Federal third-party contributions, and any income earned directly by the project. All of the items listed, whether supported by grant funds or your cost-sharing contributions, must be reasonable and necessary to accomplish project objectives, allowable in terms of the applicable federal cost principles, auditable, and incurred during the grant period. Applicants should review the appropriate Office of Management and Budget circulars on cost principles.

    If the project expects program income, it should be allocated among specific budget categories on the cost-sharing column of the project budget. The total amount of expected program income should be reported on the NHPRC budget form under "Project Funding for Entire Grant Period." The same amount should appear on the Application for Federal Assistance, SF424, item 18f. Please use the narrative budget supplement to explain the calculation of the expected income and its allocation.

    Charges to the project for items such as salaries, fringe benefits, travel, and contractual services must conform to the written policies and established practices of the applicant organization. In addition, successful applicants will be required to certify that they have adequate accounting and timekeeping procedures to meet Federal requirements.

    Budget Categories

    In preparing the budget, please follow the suggestions below in each of the categories:

    Salaries:   List each staff position and compensation that will be charged to the project and show the percentage of time each staff member will devote to the project. Indicate which positions are to be filled for the proposed project and which personnel are already on the staff of the applicant institution. Grant funds may be used to pay the salaries of only those individuals actually working on the project. You may count the time provided to the project by advisory board members.

    Fringe Benefits:   Include employee benefits using your organization's standard rates. No separate benefits should be included for positions that are computed at a daily rate or using honoraria.

    Consultant Fees:   Include payments for consultant services and honoraria. Provide justification for large or unusual consultant fees. List consultant travel expenses in the "Travel" category.

    Travel:   Include transportation, lodging, and per diem expenses. The NHPRC does not fund staff travel to professional meetings unless the travel is essential to accomplish the goals of the project.

    Supplies and Materials:   Include routine office supplies and supplies ordinarily used in professional practices. Justify the cost of specialized materials and supplies in a supplemental budget narrative.

    Services:   Include the cost of duplication and printing, long-distance telephone, equipment leasing, postage, contracts with third parties, and other services that you are not including under other budget categories or as indirect-cost expenses. The costs of project activities to be undertaken by each third-party contractor should be included in this category as a single line item charge. Include a complete itemization of the costs in a supplemental budget narrative.

    Other costs:   Include costs for necessary equipment above $5,000, stipends for participants in projects, and other items not included in previous grant categories. The NHPRC does not provide grant funds for the acquisition of routine equipment such as office furnishings, shelving, and file cabinets, but we may provide grant support for the purchase of technical equipment, such as software, computers and peripherals, essential for a project.

    Indirect costs:   As indicated in 2 CFR 2600.101, NHPRC grant recipients are not permitted to use grant funds for indirect costs; however, a grant recipient may use indirect costs for cost sharing.

    Submission Dates and Times

    • Draft (optional) Deadline: April 4, 2016
    • Final Deadline: June 15, 2016

    Applications must be submitted electronically by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time June 15, 2016.

    NHPRC support begins no earlier than January 1, 2017.

    Deadline Policy: Given that technical or administrative difficulties with may periodically delay the timely submission or receipt of applications, the Commission staff will make provisions for the receipt of such applications past the established deadline. Under these circumstances, applicants with technical or administrative issues related to must contact Jeff de la Concepcion (jeff.delaconcepcion@nara.go) or 202-357-5022 as soon as possible, but no later than by 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time on the published application deadline. Applications that fail to meet deadlines for reasons other than those noted will not be considered for funding.

    Application Review Information

    The NHPRC staff will acknowledge receipt of the application soon after we receive it. The following evaluation criteria and weights will be used by NHPRC staff and other reviewers to form recommendations:

    Criteria for Access to Historical Records projects

    1. The potential of the historical records collections to broaden understanding of our democracy, history, and culture. (35 percent)
    2. Appropriateness of the project's strategies and techniques for completing activities that will result in better preserved materials with enhanced public access. (25 percent)
    3. The ability to complete the project's objectives based on the qualifications of the staff, the inclusion of appropriate work plans including professional development and citizen engagement, and the reasonableness of the budget (including cost share). (25 percent)
    4. Effectiveness of the dissemination plans for the project's results. (15 percent)

    Application Review Process

    After submitting a proposal, do not discuss the pending application to the NHPRC with any Commission member. Commission members must ensure fair and equitable treatment of all applications and do not discuss proposals with individual applicants.

    Your proposal will be reviewed by:

    • State Boards
      Your State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB) may evaluate the application on technical merits as well as its relation to state plan priorities. Applicants should contact their SHRAB coordinator about the proposal and seek advice.
    • Peer Reviewers
      We will ask 5 to 10 external peer reviewers to evaluate the proposal.
    • Commission Staff
      Approximately 3 months after the submission deadline, we will send to the Project Director anonymous copies of reviewers' comments along with specific questions from the Commission staff. Applicants have an opportunity to answer these questions and comments.
    • The Commission
      After reviewing proposals, reviewers' comments, the applicants' responses, and evaluations by the Commission staff, the Commission members deliberate and make funding recommendations to the Archivist of the United States, who has final statutory authority and selects award recipients. Throughout this process, all members of the Commission and its staff follow conflict-of-interest rules to assure fair and equal treatment of every application.

    Award Administration Information


    Grants are contingent upon available appropriated funds. In some cases, the Commission will adjust grant amounts depending upon the number of recommended proposals and total budget. The Commission may recommend that the Archivist approve the proposal and extend an offer of a grant with applicable terms and conditions, or it may recommend rejection of the proposal. Grant applicants will be notified within two weeks after the Archivist's decision.

    Successful applicants will receive an informal offer of award and be required to verify their acceptance of general terms and condition, and complete a statement on their Financial Capability and Accounting Systems.

    For awards that meet or exceed the Federal government’s simplified acquisition threshold (currently $150,000), NHPRC staff will first review and consider any information about the applicant that appears in the designated integrity and performance system. This information is accessible through SAM (currently FAPIIS) (see 41 U.S.C. 2313). After this review, NHPRC staff will follow the procedures in 2 CFR 200, subpart F, Appendix I, part e.3.

    Once these are received, reviewed and accepted, the NHPRC will issue an official award notice.

    Administrative Requirements

    In order to ensure that you can manage a grant, applicants should review the Federal grant administration rules and regulations governing grants from the NHPRC listed in the Administering an NHPRC Grant section.


    In most cases, award recipients will report on their performance in narrative reports every six months and submit financial reports once a year.

    Agency Contact

    Before beginning the process, applicants are encouraged to contact the Director of the Access Program, Alex Lorch ( or (202) 357-5101 at the NHPRC who may:

    • Advise the applicant about the review process;
    • Answer questions about what activities are eligible for support;
    • Supply samples of successful applications;
    • Read and comment on a preliminary draft.

    Applicants should also contact your State Historical Records Advisory Board about the proposal and seek the board's advice. Many state boards have requirements for submitting draft proposals with deadlines earlier than those of the NHPRC.

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