National Historical Publications & Records Commission

Publishing Historical Records Grant Announcement

FY 2013 Grant Announcement (Initial):

Publishing Historical Records

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 Publishing Historical Records projects.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number:   89.003

This funding category has two application deadlines:

Funding Opportunity Number:   PUBLISHING-201306

Colonial and Early National Period (projects preparing publications whose documents fall predominantly prior to 1820):

  • Draft (optional):   May 1, 2013
  • Final Deadline:   June 6, 2013

NHPRC support begins no earlier than January 1, 2014.

Funding Opportunity Number:   PUBLISHING-201310

New Republic through the Modern Era (projects preparing publications whose documents fall predominantly after 1820):

  • Draft (optional):   August 1, 2013
  • Final Deadline:   October 3, 2013

NHPRC support begins no earlier than July 1, 2014.

Grant Program Description

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission seeks proposals to publish historical records of national significance.

Projects may focus on the papers of major figures from American life or cover broad historical movements in politics, military, business, social reform, the arts, and other aspects of the national experience. The historical value of the records and their expected usefulness to broad audiences must justify the costs of the project.

Grants are awarded for collecting, describing, preserving, compiling, editing, and publishing documentary source materials. Because of the focus on documentary sources, grants do not support preparation of critical editions of published works unless such works are just a small portion of the larger project.

All applicants should be aware that the application process is highly competitive. A top priority of the Commission is to support projects with plans to provide free online access to the editions they are preparing.

A publishing project that has received NHPRC support can apply for a grant for a new or subsequent stage of that project. Such projects may plan editions on print, microfilm, or other media. In any case, they must present plans for online publication of their editions, including methods of providing free access. These plans need not include provision for the retrospective conversion of material already published.

Applicants that have received NHPRC grants in the past must demonstrate that their ongoing projects have successfully achieved the performance objectives associated with previous NHPRC awards. Proposals must be substantially updated, including a description of the new activities, progress towards preparing online editions, and a justification of the new budget.

Applicants not previously funded may apply for a grant to begin a historical documents publishing project. These applications are considered with other proposals. Although they may publish in other media, the initial focus of these projects must be on the preparation of online editions.

The NHPRC does not fund proposals to purchase historical records; nor does it fund proposals to publish the papers of anyone who has been deceased for fewer than ten years.

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

Award Information

Applicants may apply for funding for up to three years, but should be aware that the Commission normally awards grants on an annual basis; subsequent funding is conditioned on previous years' project performance. Award amounts ordinarily range from $20,000 to $250,000 annually. Depending on the availability of funding, the Commission expects to make as many as 30 grants in this category, for a total of up to $2,500,000.

In accordance with Federal regulations, the Commission reserves, for Federal Government purposes, a royalty-free, non-exclusive, and irrevocable license to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the work and authorize others to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the work that results from each grant.

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


  • 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 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.

Ineligible applications will not be reviewed.

Cost Sharing

Cost sharing is required. Cost sharing 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 Commission ordinarily provides no more than 50 per cent of total project costs for Publishing Historical Records projects.

Application and Submission Information

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

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (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.

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. In order to ensure eligibility, applicants should first review the Federal grant administration rules and regulations governing grants from the NHPRC listed in 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 on 8.5 x 11 inch paper with standard margins.

Please organize your narrative in sections:

1.   Describe your project's overall purpose and long-term goals. Explain the relationship of the project to your parent institution's mission (include a letter of support in your appendix, if applicable). Describe the historical importance of individuals, events, developments, organizations, and places whose history would be documented by the project.

2.   Describe the documents to be edited by your project, and explain how the publication of these documentary source materials will increase public understanding of national history and culture.

3.   Describe the qualifications of the project's principal staff members. 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 members to be hired for the project, provide job descriptions, specify the qualifications that will be sought in candidates for vacant positions, and describe the roles to be played by all project staff, consultants, and contractors. Explain any special training planned for personnel.

The Commission encourages using advisory boards as a source of special expertise. If you have an advisory board, identify the members and their area(s) of specialization.

4.  Explain your editorial procedures and provide other evidence of careful preliminary planning and a realistic understanding of the scope of work to be completed during the grant period and the time required to complete the project. Specify the methods you will use for document collection, selection and arrangement, transcription, annotation, and indexing. Indicate what has been done to secure necessary permission for publication of materials from holders of literary rights or copyrights. Describe which part(s) of the project you will undertake during the time of this grant, e.g., document collection, selection and arrangement, transcription, annotation, indexing, and publication. If applying for a multi-year grant, applicants should present work plans in annual increments.

5.  Describe the total number of documents you expect to present online, the number of volumes you expect to print, and/or other products you plan to produce, both during the grant period and by the completion of 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. For ongoing projects, indicate the project's anticipated year of completion, and explain in detail any changes from previous projections if the scope of work and anticipated completion date for the entire project has changed since your previous grant award from the NHPRC. Describe any fundraising plans.

6.   Explain in detail your project's plans for making documents available online. The Commission supports projects that adhere to generally accepted professional standards and procedures. For online publication, please identify the technical standards you will use. The Commission expects the final products of documentary publishing projects, including electronic versions, to be maintained in their entirety for long-term access. Describe how you plan to preserve the products and provide continued access.

7.   List four to six objectives by which we can measure your performance. For example, estimate the number of documents you plan to transcribe and/or annotate during the grant period; the number of publicly available documents/volumes completed, etc. You should focus on quantifying what you intend to accomplish and complete.

For ongoing projects, at the end of your text, provide a list or narrative that demonstrates the impact of your edition. This might include reviews; citations in other media such as books, film or television programs, and websites; or use in exhibits, classrooms, textbooks, or curricula. For new projects, describe how you plan to track such usage.

8.   Provide evidence of your institution's ability to follow the relevant federal financial and management regulations. In particular, address the nature of your financial management system(s). Please note how you track actual grant and cost share expenses in comparison with budgeted expenses. In addition, explain how your personnel and management systems track the amount of time staff and consultants would spend on your project.

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, Phone and Fax 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 35 pages of Supplementary Materials to your Narrative, 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)
  • Detailed work plan charts that supplement the Narrative
  • Statements of commitment to the project by partners
  • Your institution's mission, goals, and objectives statements
  • Sample documents (facsimiles accompanied by transcription and annotation). Such documents are mandatory for first-time applicants.

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.

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 page 13 of 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.

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 the Federal requirements.

Budget Categories

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

Salaries:   List each staff position and the full salary to 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. Include 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 and file cabinets, but we may allow for the purchase of archival equipment, such as shelving units, and technical equipment, such as computers and peripherals, essential for a project. Include technical specifications for equipment over $5,000 in a supplemental budget narrative.

Submission Dates and Times

This funding category has two application deadlines:

Colonial and Early National Period (projects preparing publications whose documents fall predominantly prior to 1820):

  • Draft (optional): May 1, 2013
  • Final Deadline: June 6, 2013

Applications must be submitted electronically by midnight Eastern Time on June 6, 2013.

NHPRC support begins no earlier than January 1, 2014.

New Republic through the Modern Era (projects preparing publications whose documents fall predominantly after 1820):

  • Draft (optional): August 1, 2013
  • Final Deadline: October 3, 2013

Applications must be submitted electronically by midnight Eastern Time on October 3, 2013.

NHPRC support begins no earlier than July 1, 2014.

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 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 Publishing Historical Records Projects

  1. The historical significance of the documents to be edited. (35 percent)
  2. The coherence and effectiveness of the proposed work plan, especially the project's plans for online publication. (30 percent)
  3. Qualifications of the project staff and level of proposed cost-sharing contributions. (20 percent)
  4. Plans for disseminating project products, including evidence of how these projects benefit, or will benefit, scholars and the public. (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.

  • Peer Reviewers
    We may ask 5 to 10 external peer reviewers to evaluate the proposal.
  • Commission Staff
    Approximately 3 months after the submission deadline, the Project Director will receive blind copies of reviewers' comments and questions from the Commission staff. Applicants then have an opportunity to expand on the material provided in the application, clear up any misconceptions, and generally strengthen the proposal before the Commission meeting. Staff makes overall recommendations to the Archivist, who chairs the Commission, based on 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 staff's questions letter.
  • 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.

Project Endorsement

Some applicants may receive formal endorsement of their projects without funding. The Commission may award an endorsement in lieu of a grant, or applicants may apply directly for a formal endorsement without funding. Commission endorsement may assist projects in gaining alternative financial or other forms of support and acknowledgement. Applicants seeking project endorsements should contact the Timothy Connelly, Director for Publications, at for assistance in preparing applications.

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

Applicants are encouraged to contact Timothy Connelly, 202-357-5301, or 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.

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

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