National Historical Publications & Records Commission

Archives - Basic Projects Grant Announcement

FY 2011 Grant Announcement: (Initial)

Archives - Basic Projects

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), supports projects that promote the preservation and use of America's documentary heritage essential to understanding our democracy, history, and culture.

The following grant application information is for Archives - Basic Projects.

Funding Opportunity Number:   BASIC-201010

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number:   89.003

  • Draft Deadline (optional):   August 2, 2010
  • Final Deadline:   October 7, 2010

NHPRC support begins no earlier than July 1, 2011.

The deadline for this opportunity has passed. This funding category no longer exists. These guidelines may be used for reference, but should NOT be used to prepare an application. Applicants with archival proposals should use the Documenting Democracy: Access to Historical Records Projects application.

Grant Program Description

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission seeks proposals for fundamental archival activities that promote preservation and use of America's documentary heritage.

Proposals must demonstrate how the applicant employs the best and most cost-effective archival methods. Activities included under Basic Projects may be any one or combination of the following:

  1. Basic Processing,
  2. Preservation Planning,
  3. Collections Development, and
  4. Establishing Archives.

Although projects focused exclusively on professional development are not eligible in this grant category, we strongly encourage each application to include professional development components necessary for the success of the project.

For a comprehensive list of the Commission's limitations on funding, please see What We Do and Do Not Fund.


1. Basic Processing

For projects that process and reveal collections that researchers cannot easily discover through online search engines.

In general, proposals should demonstrate how repositories will catalog personal papers and manuscript collections at the collection level, and catalog institutional records at the series level. Basic processing usually includes identifying collections of manuscripts and records, and describing them at the appropriate component level. Applicants will need to create collection- or series-level MARC catalog records in a national bibliographic utility. If finding aids are created, they should generally meet current Encoded Archival Description standards, and be made available to appropriate regional and national archival databases.

Institutions must develop or implement processing techniques to eliminate unprocessed backlogs of holdings at a level consistent with appropriate standards and at a reasonable rate. In addition, applicants must develop and establish adequate accessioning and processing techniques that will prevent future backlogs. Basic processing proposals should also include reappraisal of collections and include a process for deaccessioning entire collections where appropriate.

Applicants must also include plans to promote the use of their collections after completing this processing.

Basic processing proposals cannot include the creation of file or folder listings. For such projects, organizations should explore whether they are eligible for NHPRC's Archives - Detailed Processing Projects. Applications that focus on such activities will be ineligible.

2. Preservation Planning

For projects that focus on the preservation of collections as a whole. This approach of "phased preservation" often involves surveys of collections, assessment of environmental controls, and risk assessment. Although the NHPRC does not fund construction projects, applicants may include planning for necessary improvements to physical facilities. Collection-level preservation assessments may also be carried out as part of a basic processing project.

Preservation actitives beyond planning are not permitted. Impermissible activities include comprehensive reboxing and refoldering, reformatting, digitizing, and/or microfilming; removing staples and paper clips; and item-level repair and conservation-are not permitted. Preservation copying of fading paper types should be extremely limited. (For collections that need such treatment, organizations should consult Archives - Detailed Processing Projects.)

3. Collections Development

For projects to improve collections development including the following activities: documentation strategies, surveys, appraisal projects, records management projects with archival components, reappraisal and deaccessioning, and fieldwork and other collecting activities. The NHPRC does not support projects to create new documentation, except for oral history projects conducted by American Indian tribes and other indigenous peoples that rely on oral traditions to document their history and culture.

All projects that include collecting activities must show that the institution has developed, or will develop as a part of the project, initial processing techniques to gain basic physical and intellectual control over new accessions. If the repository has a large unprocessed backlog of holdings, collections development activities may only occur alongside basic processing activities.

4. Establishing Archives

For projects to establish new archives programs.

Unless an assessment has already been completed, a proposal may only include the cost of a consultant to assess the need for an archives program. The assessment should identify the resources necessary for sustaining such a program and include a collection development plan, a plan for basic processing of unprocessed collections and new accessions in a timely manner, and a phased preservation plan. Applications for start-up projects must provide convincing evidence for ongoing support. Applicants must also demonstrate their commitment to creating equitable and timely access to their holdings.

If the organization already has a detailed assessment, it may submit a proposal for costs associated with starting its archives program, as outlined in the assessment.

Award Information

A grant normally is for one or two years and for up to $200,000. The Commission expects to make up to 25 grants in this category for a total of up to $1,750,000.


Archives and other repositories of historical documents are eligible if they are part of:

  • United States nonprofit organizations or institutions
  • Colleges, universities, and other academic institutions
  • State or local government agencies
  • Federally-acknowledged or state-recognized Native American tribes or groups

Applicant organizations must be registered in Central Contractor Registration (CCR) prior to submitting an application, maintain CCR registration throughout the application and award process, and include a valid DUNS number in their application. Details on CCR registration and requesting a DUNS number can be found at the Central Contractor Registration website.

Cost Sharing

Cost sharing is required. It is the financial contribution the applicant pledges to the cost of a project. Cost sharing can include both direct and indirect expenses, in-kind contributions, non-Federal third-party contributions, and any income earned directly by the project. The NHPRC will provide up to 50 percent of the total project costs.


Application and Submission Information

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

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) generally 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 the Grants Program Specialist at (202) 357-5010 no later than 3:00 Eastern Time on the day of the deadline with their valid Contact Center trouble-ticket number.

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 are ineligible and will not be reviewed. In order to ensure eligibility, applicants should first review the rules and regulations governing NHPRC grants under the Administering an NHPRC Grant section.

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. Begin with a brief overview of the project that describes the types of records to be preserved. Briefly summarize your organization's history, mission, and goals with an emphasis on its archival program and records. Explain the overall goals of the project and its relationship to your organization's mission and goals, as well as how the project furthers the NHPRC's preservation and access goals for historical records. Make the case for the significance of the records affected by the project. Describe the types of records, including quantities in cubic or linear feet, subject matters, formats, and dates. Describe your access policies for public use of your holdings, including days and hours of operation. Show how the records to be collected, processed, or preserved are of national, regional, statewide, or local importance. Summarize the historical importance of individuals, events, and places documented in the records. Applicants with collections primarily of local significance or of limited interest should contact their State Historical Records Advisory Board about other potential funding options. Characterize the project's audience and show how the proposed activities will improve public discovery and use of historical records.
  2. Provide evidence of your preliminary planning and a realistic scope of work for the project. Describe in detail the type of activities (processing, preservation planning, collection development, or start up) you intend to engage in and the relationship among them. It is not necessary to do all four. Describe your current or proposed accessioning and processing methodologies and explain how they support the goals of revealing hidden collections and preventing future backlogs. Outline each stage of the planned work and include a chart that identifies the people and other resources needed for each stage.
  3. Describe the products you plan to produce for the completed project. This includes catalog records, archival finding aids, and any related publicity or publications. Applicants who intend to place finding aids on the Internet should use Encoded Archival Description (EAD), unless there is a better alternative. Collection catalog entries must be MARC records and contributed to a national bibliographic utility. In addition, discuss methods your institution will use to evaluate the project after the end of the grant period (e.g. researchers' surveys or other methods).
  4. For people named in the proposal, provide a narrative explanation of the skills and qualifications that will make this project successful. For those to be hired provide a short explanation of the necessary skills. Explain any special training planned for personnel. In the supplementary materials, provide a resume of not more than two pages per person for all staff named in the project budget. For those staff or consultants to be hired for the project, provide position descriptions.
  5. List four to six Performance Objectives with quantifiable performance objectives that will allow you and the Commission to evaluate the project as you submit interim and final reports. For example, how many collections have been processed, how many MARC records and finding aids have been made available electronically, what new procedures have been 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 formatted for on 8.5 x 11 inch paper with standard margins, and it must include these sections:

  • Purposes and Goals of the Project
  • Methods
  • Summary of Plan of Work for the Grant Period
  • Products 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

Attach up to 20 pages of Supplementary Materials, such as:

  • Résumés of named staff members (please use only institutional addresses and phone numbers) (required)
  • Position descriptions for staff to be hired with grant funds (required, if applicable)
  • Your institution's mission, goals, and objective statements
  • Your institution's pertinent policies on collections development, processing, and preservation.
  • Detailed work plan charts that supplement the Narrative
  • Examples of MARC collection and/or series records and other discovery tools
  • Statements of commitment to the project by partners, including records creators

If these materials are available on a web site, please provide the URLs.


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 grant funds as well as those that will be supported by the applicant through cost sharing, which 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 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.

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.

Submission Dates and Times

  • Draft (optional) Deadline: August 2, 2010
  • Final Deadline: October 7, 2010

Applications must be submitted electronically by 11:59 pm Eastern Time on October 7, 2010.

The Commission considers the application in May 2011. NHPRC support begins no earlier than July 1, 2011.

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 NHPRC staff at (202) 357-5010 as soon as possible, but no later than by 3:00 PM 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 Archives - Basic Projects

  1. The importance of the records to be processed and described. (30 percent)
  2. The likelihood that the project will result in a sustainable program based on the applicant's analysis of the field and its work plan. (30 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 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 Member of the Commission. 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:

  1. State Boards
    Your State Historical Records Advisory Board may evaluate the application on technical merits as well as its relation to state plan priorities.
  2. Peer Reviewers
    We may ask 5 to 10 external peer reviewers to evaluate the proposal.
  3. Commission Staff
    Approximately 2-3 months after the submission deadline, the Project Director receives blind copies of reviewers' comments and questions from the Commission staff. Applicants have an opportunity to expand on the material provided, clear up any misconceptions, and generally strengthen the proposal before the Commission meeting. Staff makes overall recommendations to the Commission based on reviewers' comments, the appropriateness of the project in meeting the Commission's goals, the proposal's completeness, conformity to application requirements and overall eligibility, and answers to the questions letter.
  4. The Commission
    After reviewing proposals, the comments of peer reviewers, the applicants' responses to the reviews, and evaluations by the Commission staff, Commission members deliberate on proposals and make funding recommendations to the Archivist of the United States who, as Commission Chairman, 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 2 weeks after the Archivist's decision.


Agency Contact

Before beginning the process, applicants are encouraged to contact Alexander Lorch, Archives Program officer, ( 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 submit a draft at least 2 months before the deadline.

Applicants should also contact their State Historical Records Advisory Board about the proposal and seek the board's advice. Many state boards encourage applicants to submit draft proposals in advance of NHPRC deadlines.

Grant Administration

For more information on how to comply with Federal regulations, see our Administering a Grant section.

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