National Historical Publications & Records Commission

Access to Historical Records: Major Initiatives

FY 2022 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 information is only for applicants invited to submit full proposals to the Access to Historical Records: Major Initiatives program. For more information about how to become an invited applicant, please see the Preliminary Proposal announcement.

Funding Opportunity Number:   MAJOR-202107

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number:   89.003

  • Full Proposal Deadline:   July 13, 2021

NHPRC support begins no earlier than January 1, 2022.

Grant Program Description

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission seeks projects that will significantly improve public discovery and use of major historical records collections. The Commission is especially interested in collections of America’s early legal records, such as the records of colonial, territorial, county, and early statehood and tribal proceedings that document the evolution of the nation’s legal history.  

All types of historical records are eligible, including documents, photographs, born-digital records, and analog audio and moving images. Projects may:

  • Digitize historical records collections, or related collections, held by a single institution and make them freely available online
  • Provide access to born-digital records
  • Create new freely-available virtual collections drawn from historical records held by multiple institutions
  • Create new tools and methods for users to access records

The NHPRC welcomes collaborative projects, particularly for bringing together related records from multiple institutions. Projects that address significant needs in the field and result in replicable and scalable approaches will be more competitive. We also encourage organizations to actively engage the public in the work of the project.

Applicants should also consult Access to Historical Records: Archival Projects program, which has different requirements and award amounts.

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 to three years and between $100,000 and $350,000. We expect to make up to five grants in this category for a total of up to $1,000,000. Grants begin no earlier than January 1, 2022.

The Commission requires that grant recipients acknowledge NHPRC grant assistance in all publicity, 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 project costs in the Access to Historical Records: Major Initiatives 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.


Application Information

You must use to submit your Full 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 order to ensure eligibility, applicants should first review the rules and regulations governing NHPRC grants under the Administering an NHPRC Grant section.

Applying to the Access to Historical Records: Major Initiatives program is a two-phase process.

 Phase One

  • All applicants must have submitted a Preliminary Proposal by February 25, 2021.
  • Only those applicants who have successfully completed Phase One and who have been invited by the Commission to submit a full proposal to the Access to Historical Records: Major Initiatives program are eligible to participate in the second phase of the process.

Phase Two

  • If you have been invited, prepare and submit a complete application to the full Major Initiatives grant announcement via by July 13, 2021.
  • Applicants may consult with the Nancy Melley (, during both the preliminary and full proposal project phases.

Preparing Your Application

Using the Application Instructions, fill out the Standard Form 424, SF 424B, and the NHPRC Budget Form. You will 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 formatted for 8.5 x 11 inch paper with standard margins and page numbers.

  1. Overview: Provide an overview of the project and how it will improve public discovery and use of historical records. Describe in detail the collections and show how the records broaden public understanding of our democracy, history, and culture. Characterize the project's intended audience and describe your efforts, where applicable, to actively engage the public in the work of the project.

    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.

    If you are collaborating with other institutions to create a new virtual collection drawn from historical records held by multiple institutions, describe your partners and their commitments to the project, and the reasons for unifying collections.

    If you are planning to create new tools and methods for users, describe how they will mark an advancement or enhancement of current archival practices. The Commission is especially interested in new APIs (application program interfaces) and Open Access principles to encourage re-use of collections.
  2. Description of Collections: Describe the records that will be made accessible. This should include the quantity in cubic or linear feet for analog materials, in files and bytes for born-digital materials, and an estimate of the number of hours for audio and moving image materials. Detail the topical matters, formats, dates, and their historical significance. Explain how these records have the highest value for broad public use and how they significantly enhance understanding of the overall American experience. Provide specific evidence of the current research demand and explain how you expect this project to change usage levels. If collaborating with other institutions to create virtual collections around a central topic, describe your partners and their project commitments.
  3. Archival Methodologies: Describe your processing and digitization methodologies or plans to innovate in these areas. Provide descriptions of your equipment and resources, metadata standards, and professional scanning practices. Specify cost estimates for digitized items. Detail the specific methods used for any preservation reformatting of audio or moving image materials. Outline your institution's long-term preservation plan (or provide a link to it online).
  4. New Tools and Methods: Describe any new tools and methods and explain how they will advance, enhance, or make more efficient current practices in the field. Include specifics about how these tools will enable users to better access the records. If collaborating with other institutions to test these methods, then explain how the joint effort will work.
  5. Public Participation: Provide details regarding your plan to engage the public throughout the project in the active use of the records. Projects should consider ways to engage a broad range of education levels, age groups, ethnicities, and both urban and rural communities.  
  6. Project Products: Describe and quantify the products you plan to produce for the completed project. This includes catalog records, finding aids, digitized items, electronic files, and related materials. This also includes any new tools and methods to be developed to enhance access to archival materials.
  7. Project Publicity: Describe how you will publicize the project from start to finish using both online and traditional means. Explain how you will share any new tools and methods with other institutions to encourage replication and adoption.
  8. 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).
  9. Staff Qualifications: Provide a narrative explanation of the qualifications of the staff who will contribute to the success of this project. 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. 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 position descriptions or call for consultants.
  10. 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, types of new procedures put in place to expedite access to collections, and the number and type of outreach events.

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 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

  • Full Proposal Deadline: Applications must be submitted electronically by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time July 13, 2021.

A funding decision will be made at the Commission's November 2021 meeting. NHPRC support begins no earlier than January 1, 2022.

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

Proposal 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: Major Initiatives proposals

  1. The potential of the historical records collections to broaden understanding of our democracy, history, and culture. (30 percent)
  2. The project's strategies and techniques that will result in enhanced public access and engagement. (30 percent)
  3. The project's ability to develop scalable and replicable tools and methods that address significant needs in the field. (25 percent)
  4. The ability to complete the project's objectives based on the qualifications of the staff, collaborative partnerships, the inclusion of an appropriate plan of work, and the reasonableness of the preliminary budget (including cost share). (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:

  • Peer Reviewers
    We will ask 7 to 10 external peer reviewers to evaluate the proposal.
  • The Commission
    After reviewing proposals, 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.