National Historical Publications & Records Commission

NHPRC-Mellon Planning Grants for Collaborative Digital Editions in African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and Native American History and Ethnic Studies

FY 2024 Grant Announcement (Initial):

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 NHPRC-Mellon Planning Grants for Collaborative Digital Editions in African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and Native American History and Ethnic Studies.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number:   89.003

Funding Opportunity Number:   DIGITALEDITIONS-202306


  • Draft (optional):   April 1, 2023
  • Final Deadline:   June 7, 2023

NHPRC support begins no earlier than January 1, 2024.

Agency Contact

Before beginning the process, applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Deputy Executive Director and Director for Publishing, Darrell Meadows (, 202-357-5321) at the NHPRC who may: 

  • Answer questions about the program and its goals;
  • Offer advice about preparing the proposal;
  • Advise the applicant about the review process; 
  • Answer questions about what activities are eligible for support; 
  • Read and comment on a preliminary draft. Applicants should submit a draft no later than April 1, 2023

NHPRC support begins no earlier than January 1, 2024.


Grant Program Description

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One of the first Planning Grants went to Wičhóoyake kiη aglí—They Bring the Stories Back: Connecting Lakota Wild West Performers to Pine Ridge Community Histories

In 1887 aboard the S..S. State of Nebraska, Lakota performers and their families crossed the sea to England with Buffalo Bill to perform at the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), with funding provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, seeks proposals for its planning grant program for Collaborative Digital Editions in African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and Native American History and Ethnic Studies. With an overarching goal to broaden participation in the production and publication of historical and scholarly digital editions, the program is designed:

  • To provide opportunities that augment the preparation and training of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color new to the work of historical documentary editing, especially those currently working in history or related area and ethnic studies departments.
  • To encourage the innovative and collaborative re-thinking of the historical and scholarly digital edition itself—how it is conceived, whose voices it centers, and for what purposes.
  • To support planning activities essential for successful development of significant, innovative, and well-conceived digital edition projects rooted in African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and Native American history and ethnic studies.
  • To stimulate meaningful, mutually beneficial, and respectful collaborations that help to bridge longstanding institutional inequalities by promoting resource sharing and capacity building at all levels. 
  • To sustain projects that build meaningful community and user engagement into their plans.


Grants are awarded to collaborative teams consisting of at least two scholar-editors, as well as one or more archivists, digital scholars, data curators, and/or other support and technical staff, as appropriate to fulfill the planning goals and prepare the project team for implementation at a later stage. We strongly encourage applications from collaborative teams that include diverse faculty and staff in key positions, and that include editorial, archival, and technical staff at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic- and Minority-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges, and/or other Indigenous and Native American tribal scholars and community members, and members of the Asian American community. We also encourage projects to seek out community members as well as undergraduate and graduate students to contribute to (and benefit from) participation in all phases of the project planning.

What is a digital edition? How can I make the most of this planning opportunity?

Frequently based on a corpus of materials intentionally drawn from one or more (often dispersed) archival collections, digital edition projects do more than provide visual access through digitization and online publication. They provide intellectual access to and relevant contextualization for the specific documents and other historical materials that make up the edition’s corpus. In the broadest sense, digital editions are intentional, contextualized research collections created for the purpose of raising new questions and advancing new research and teaching in their respective fields of study. Because of the size, complexity (both human and technical), and duration of such projects, which may require up to 10 years or longer to reach final completion, extensive planning is essential for successful development of a collaborative digital edition project.

Eligible projects in this category are encouraged to focus their planning activities on the essentials, beginning with project conception and scope (including plans for understanding and incorporating target user community input); establishing a mutually-beneficial, respectful, and sustainable collaboration; securing long-term institutional support; establishing editorial workflow processes and associated staffing needs (for collecting, describing, preserving, compiling, transcribing, annotating, encoding, and publishing the edition); as well as long-term technical and financial sustainability, among other planning issues (see below).

Eligible activities in this category may include:

  • Travel and related costs for planning meetings involving geographically-dispersed collaborations. 
  • Relevant training for project directors, staff, and participating community members, including (but not limited to) NHPRC-supported training opportunities.
  • Associated costs for technical planning, wire-framing, and early testing and evaluation with target audience(s) to determine needs and priorities.
  • For projects undertaking an extensive or supplementary document search, funds also may be used for initial surveying of undigitized collections, sample document imaging and collection, canvassing, community outreach, and related travel.

For a comprehensive list of Commission limitations on funding, please see: "What we do and do not fund." 

Award Information

A grant is for up to two years and for up to $60,000 per year. The Commission expects to make up to 10 grants in this category for a total of up to $1,200,000. Planning Grants begin no earlier than January 1, 2024.

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


  • 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

Applications from and collaborations involving Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), and Tribal Colleges are strongly encouraged.

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

Cost Sharing

Cost sharing is not a requirement. However, 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. 

NHPRC grant recipients are not permitted to use grant funds for indirect costs (as indicated in 2 CFR 2600.101). Indirect costs must be listed under the applicant's cost sharing contribution if they are included in the budget.

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 Unique Entity ID in their application. To register or request a Unique Entity ID, go to Already manage an entity that does business with the federal government? You may want to consult this article on the transition from DUNS to the Unique Entity ID


Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit draft materials prior to making a formal application. Draft materials may be submitted anytime up to (but no later than) April 1, 2023. Draft materials should include a project narrative and budget, and may be sent via email to Darrell Meadows, Deputy Executive Director and Director for Publishing  (

Application Information

You must use to submit your Proposal. All information necessary to apply is included in this announcement, the Application Instructions, and the forms on If you need the information supplied in an alternative format, please call the NHPRC at 202-357-5010.

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 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. Applications that fail to meet deadlines for reasons other than those noted will not be considered for funding.

Preparing Your Application

Using the Application Instructions, fill out the Standard Form 424 and the NHPRC Budget Form. 

You must also prepare a Project Narrative and Supplementary Materials to attach to your Application Package.

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 on 8.5 x 11 inch paper with standard margins.

Please organize your narrative in sections, as follows:

Overview (no more than 3 pages):

Provide a clear and concise description and rationale for the proposed collaborative digital edition, including its historical timeframe and subject theme(s); a brief description of the historical sources that will form its documentary corpus, and what contextualization and/or other forms of intellectual access to these sources it will provide to researchers (such as transcription, translation, and/or annotation); and how many years you anticipate will be needed to complete the fully-realized edition. In this section, you should also:

Briefly describe your collaborative team, identifying its participants, proposed activities, and expected results. 

  • Describe the expected outcomes and benefits of the project for advancing research and teaching in your respective field(s) of study. 
  • Outline the core opportunities and challenges for planning that you foresee in undertaking this work. 
  • Provide a brief budget summary.

Project Team

Describe your collaborative project team in fuller detail. Project teams may include co-directors, but one Project Director lead should be identified for the purposes of this application. (At the beginning of this section, please list the Names, Titles, Institutions, Phone Numbers, and E-Mail Addresses of the Project Director and Key Personnel. 

  • Please ensure that the project director listed in the Narrative 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.
  • The team should also include a lead representative from each of the participating institutions. It is assumed that the applicant institution will serve as the project’s institutional host. 
  • In addition to the Key Personnel, list the names and affiliations of all individuals who have already committed to participating in the planning process, as well as those who have been invited but have not yet committed to participating, and those who might be invited, including any individuals who will serve as advisors. Explain the respective contributions that each of the committed and potential participants would make to the planning process. 

If applicable, provide a description of legal and operational relationships with other organizations, subcontractors, consultants, administering agents, or collaborators on the project.

The Proposed Digital Edition and Its User Communities:

Describe the conceptual and documentary scope of the proposed collaborative digital edition in greater detail, including a fuller description of the historical materials that will form the core of the edition, whether and to what extent the effort will require systematic search and collection of records, and/or the virtual unification of digitized records, and the amount and type of work (if any) that has been completed to date. 

  • What forms of contextualization and/or annotation do you envision for providing intellectual access to these materials? 
  • Describe your project team’s anticipated user communities and how the envisioned digital edition is expected to advance the research, teaching, and/or other identified needs of the subfield(s), research area(s), and communities it is intended to support.  Letters of support from relevant individuals, institutions, and organizations should be included in the Supplementary Materials.

Planning Issues:

Outline the most pressing planning issues (selected from the list below) that your project team will address during the proposed grant period, and why. In this section, please also describe briefly the project team’s current plans or state of thinking around the remaining items on this list:

  • Project conception, scope and design, including plans for providing intellectual access to the proposed edition’s corpus of historical records
  • Surveying of collections and planning for document search and selection
  • Establishing a trusting, respectful, and mutually-beneficial collaboration
  • Staffing and collaborative project administration and management
  • Training and other relevant professional development
  • Identification of target audience(s)
  • Student and user community input and engagement
  • Establishing the project’s editorial policies and practices
  • Technical architecture and digital workflow
  • Virtual unification of digitized collections
  • Online publication, dissemination, and discovery
  • User experience and accessibility
  • Digital preservation strategies
  • Long-term sustainability

Planning Activities:

Outline a plan of work that includes each stage of planning activities to be undertaken during the proposed grant period, in 6-month increments, identifying participants, including which staff members are responsible for which tasks, as well as the goals and expected outcomes for each activity. If needed, you may clarify complex work plans with a more detailed plan in the supplemental materials. (Your work plan and related planning activities should be clearly aligned with the planning issues outlined in the previous section as well as your proposed budget.)

Performance Objectives:

List six to ten objectives (or more, as appropriate to and in alignment with your planning activities) by which we can measure your performance over the course of the proposed grant period, and evaluate the overall success of your planning efforts. For example: 

  • Engage collaborative team and members of the targeted user community to refine and report on project conception, scope, and design.
  • Identify, procure and complete staff training as needed to inform and enhance all aspects of the project team’s planning efforts.
  • Develop, test, and report on an initial set of editorial policies for document collection, transcription, annotation, encoding, and digital publication.
  • Establish, document, and report on the project’s long-term digital preservation strategies.

Supplementary Materials

Submit no more than 35 pages of the following Supplementary Materials:

  • Résumés for all members of the project team (no more than two pages each; please use only institutional addresses and phone numbers)
  • Endorsement letters and Letters of Commitment (from the applicable partner institution(s), project team members, institutional administrators, and other individuals or organizations involved in the planning process)
  • Position announcement for any new positions to be paid for by grant funds
  • A detailed work plan (in either quarterly or six-month increments)

If these materials are available on a web site, please provide the URL(s). Reviewers appreciate applications 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.  

Submission Dates and Times

  • Draft (optional):   April 1, 2023
  • Final Deadline:   June 7, 2023

NHPRC support begins no earlier than January 1, 2024.

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 NHPRC-Mellon Planning Grants for Collaborative Digital Editions in African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and Native American History and Ethnic Studies:

  1. Quality and feasibility of the project’s conceptual scope and its potential for advancing new research and teaching. (30 percent) 
  2. Quality and extent of the proposed collaboration, including its ability to enhance, build upon, and include the capacities of all participants in the planning process, and to realize the envisioned planning goals and outcomes. (30 percent) 
  3. Quality and extent of community and end-user engagement and input in the development of the proposal and in the plan of work. (20 percent) 
  4. Coherence, effectiveness, and reasonableness of the proposed planning goals, activities, and budget, and their likely success in preparing the project for implementation. (20 percent) 

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.

  • Peer Reviewers: We will ask 5 to 7 external peer reviewers to evaluate the proposal.
  • Commission Staff: Approximately 3-4 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 respond to any issues raised in the reviews as well as to Commission staff’s 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 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 reviewed at the November, 2022 meeting and notified within two weeks after the Archivist's decision.

Successful applicants will receive an informal offer of award outlining the steps that must be accomplished to qualify for funding. Those steps include verification of their acceptance of general terms and conditions, completion of a survey on their Financial Capability and Accounting Systems, and finalization of performance objectives for their project. Once all requested documentation is  received, reviewed and acceptable, 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.