National Historical Publications & Records Commission

Archives - Detailed Processing Projects Grant Announcement

FY 2011 Grant Announcement: (Initial)

Archives- Detailed Processing 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 - Detailed Processing Projects.

  • See also Archives - Basic Projects.
  • An applicant may not propose a Basic Project and a Detailed Processing Project at the same application deadline.

Funding Opportunity Number:   DETAILED-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 detailed processing and preservation of collections of national significance. The collections also should have high research demand or substantial preservation challenges.

To apply in this category, repositories must have virtually all of their collections processed sufficiently so that researchers can find them through online searches, and they must have procedures in place to prevent the creation of new backlogs. If the applicant has not achieved these goals, it is ineligible for this category and should review the NHPRC's Archives - Basic Projects grant announcement.

In general, proposals should describe how the repository will process and create detailed descriptions at the series or file level. In the course of such processing, some selective refoldering and basic cleaning may be needed, and applicants must explain whether any item level treatment will be necessary, including removing fasteners, opening envelopes, and flattening, copying, encapsulating, de-acidifying, and mending documents.

Projects should revise corresponding collection-level records and submit them to national library catalogs. In general, they should also create or revise detailed finding aids using Encoded Archival Description (EAD) and provide them to a national archival database and appropriate regional and institutional databases. If descriptive methods besides EAD are necessary for the collection, applicants should justify their selection of these methods.

For collections of fragile textual materials, applicants may apply for grants in support of preservation reformatting. If parts of collections deserve item-level processing, proposals must justify this detailed work and provide estimates of the percentage of collections to be processed to the item level. When appropriate, applicants should consider hybrid microfilm/digitization (using dual head cameras, or microfilm-to-digital or digital-to-microfilm techniques).

Applicants may propose limited digitization of series or items that have the most potential to benefit a broad public, or that provide illustrations of the type of records and documents found in the series and collection. Applications should detail the standards to be used in this process, itemize anticipated expenses, and estimate the percentage of the collections to be digitized. Applicants who wish only to engage in digitization of textual or visual materials, should see the Digitizing Historical Records announcement.

For collections of unstable audio, film, or video materials, applicants may propose preservation reformatting or migration to appropriate analog or digital formats.

Applicants should also outline their publicity and outreach plans for promoting use of collections.

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

Award Information

A grant normally is for one to three years and is up to $200,000. The Commission expects to make up to 10 grants in this category, for a total of up to $700,000.


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

  • United States nonprofit organizations or institutions
  • Colleges and 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 explains the national significance of the historical materials and your methods. Briefly summarize your organization's history, mission, and goals with an emphasis on its archival programs and records. Describe the nature and scope of your holdings. Demonstrate that virtually all of your holdings are available to researchers and that all new accessions receive a basic level of processing within a reasonable time. Explain the overall goals of the project and its relationship to your organization's mission and goals. Describe the materials that will be processed during this project, including the type of records, the quantity in cubic or linear feet, and their historical significance.

    Be specific about the historical importance of individuals, events, organizations, and places documented by the records. Demonstrate for each collection why it should be processed at a detailed level. Describe the current demand and the physical condition of the materials. Identify how you expect this project to change usage levels. Characterize the project's audience, and show how the activities proposed will increase public understanding of American history, culture, and the national experience.
  2. Provide evidence of planning and a realistic scope of work for the project. Outline each stage of the planned work within the grant period, and clarify complex work plans with a time chart identifying anticipated activities (in the supplemental materials).

    Detail the ways in which you plan to describe the materials. Explain what preservation treatments are necessary. Indicate if you plan to digitize selected materials as part of the project. Describe how you will publicize the results, including the submission of catalog records and finding aids to national databases, websites, and press releases. In all cases, refer to the standards you intend to use to ensure the best results and measure productivity.

    If including item-level preservation or digitization in the project, specify cost estimates for these items in this section or in detailed charts in the supplemental materials.
  3. Describe the products you plan to produce for the completed project. This includes collections or records management materials, archival finding aids, 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 (unless other formats are more appropriate). Presentations at or papers for professional organizations may also be appropriate products for these projects. In addition, discuss methods your institution will use to evaluate the project (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. In the supplementary materials, provide a résumé 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 job descriptions or call for consultants.
  5. List four to six quantifiable performance objectives that will allow you and the Commision to evaluate the project as you submit interim and final reports. For example, how many cubic feet of records processed and preserved, how many finding aids created or updated.

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 - Detailed Processing Projects

  1. The national significance of the records to be processed and preserved. (35 percent)
  2. Appropriateness of the project's strategies and techniques for completing the components of the project. (25 percent)
  3. Ability to complete the project's proposed objectives, judged by the qualifications of the staff and the reasonableness of the plan of work and 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 Daniel Stokes, Director for State Programs, ( or (202) 357-5487, or 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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