National Historical Publications & Records Commission

Strategies and Tools Grant Announcement

Grant Announcement:

Strategies and Tools for Archives and Historical Publishing Projects

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission promotes the preservation and use of America's documentary heritage essential to understanding our democracy, history, and culture.

The following grant application information is for Strategies and Tools for Archives and Publishing Historical Records.

NHPRC support begins no earlier than June 1, 2009.

  • Draft (optional) Deadline:   August 1, 2008
  • Final Deadline:   October 6, 2008

See the Application Cycle for additional information.

Grant Program Description

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission seeks proposals to develop new strategies and tools that can improve the preservation, public discovery, or use of historical records. Projects may also focus on techniques and tools that will improve the professional performance and effectiveness of those who work with such records, such as archivists, documentary editors, and records managers.

Projects concerning records may focus on methods of working with any format including born-digital records. Publishing of historical records must focus on methods of presenting archival records as primary sources. The Commission does not fund projects focused on artifacts or books.

Applications must:

  • Present evidence for the need for improvement in current methods.
  • Demonstrate that the project staff has the skills, educational background, and experience appropriate to the project.
  • Describe which reliable research-and-development methodologies and techniques will be used to produce practical outcomes.
  • Describe how the applicant will test the outcomes with practitioners.
  • Explain how the applicant will document the costs and benefits of employing the new strategies or tools.
  • Describe how the project will publicize the results and make them available to the appropriate professions at minimal or no cost.

The Commission expects to announce this opportunity twice a year, with deadlines in early June and early October.

For applicants who wish to work with particular historical records or publications or who have professional development projects, please review the relevant grant announcements and then contact the Commission staff with questions about which category is most appropriate for your proposed project.

Award Information

A grant normally is for one to three years. The Commission expects to make one to three grants of between $50,000 and $150,000. The total amount allocated to this category is up to $150,000 during the fiscal year.

Because these grants encourage the development of methods that will benefit many institutions, the NHPRC will provide up to 75% of the total project costs.

Cost Sharing

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.


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

How to Prepare an Application

Applicants must use the application process. See How to Apply.

Applicants are encouraged to contact the Director for Technology Initiatives 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; and
  • read and comment on a preliminary draft. Applicants should submit a draft at least 2 months before the deadline.

Completing the Application

A complete application includes a Project Narrative, Summary, Supplementary Materials, and Budget.

Before beginning the process, applicants should 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 with standard margins. Address the requirements listed above, as well as the following questions in your narrative:

Question 1: What is the purpose of the project and what are its goals?
Begin with an overview of your project. Be sure to state clearly which program area your proposal addresses: archives, records management, historical publications, or some combination. Describe the problem that your project addresses. Detail how your project will help relieve this problem. Describe the size and nature of the project's audiences and how you intend to reach them. Though projects may be tested at the applicant's own institution, proposals should involve others who will use the methods developed. Explain the expected outcome of the project. Will the results improve the preservation, public discovery, or use of historical records? Will they improve professional performance or effectiveness?

Question 2: What is the significance of the project in relation to the NHPRC's programs and goals?
Explain briefly how the project relates to the Commission's overall mission, vision, and goals. For background, applicants may want to review the Commission's Strategic Plan.

Question 3: What is the plan of work for the grant period?
Provide evidence of your preliminary planning and convey that you have a realistic grasp of the scope of the project. Describe in detail the types of activities you intend to engage in and the relationships among them. Outline each stage of the planned work and include the costs for each major stage. Types of activities that are typical for these projects may include planning, research, development, testing, and marketing. Please be specific about how you intend to publicize and evaluate the project. Final evaluations should include an assessment of how and why the project did or did not meet its goals and recommend possible improvements in methodology or applications. Include, in the supplementary materials, charts that identify the people, time, and resources needed for each stage.

Question 4: What products will be produced during the grant period?
Describe the products you plan to produce for the completed project. This may include, for example, software and documentation; manuals; papers, speeches, and articles; and brochures and pamphlets. Explain how you plan to make the results available. Describe and justify your methods for disseminating products, including any costs to be charged.

Question 5: What are the qualifications of the personnel?
Provide a narrative explanation of the qualifications of the staff necessary to conduct the project. Explain the roles of all staff named in the project budget, both for those already on staff and for those to be hired. Include descriptions of outside project advisors, reviewers, and evaluators. 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.

Question 6: What are your performance objectives?
List four to seven objectives by which we can measure your performance. Focus on results that reflect what you intend to accomplish and complete during the grant period.

Project Summary
The Project Summary should be no more than 3 double-spaced pages in 12-pt type with standard margins and should include these sections:

  • Purposes and Goals of the Project
  • Significance and Relationship to NHPRC Goals and Objectives
  • Plan of Work for the Grant Period
  • Products and/or Publications to be completed during the Grant Period
  • Names, Phone Numbers, and E-Mail Address of the Project Director and Key Personnel
  • Performance Objectives

Supplementary Materials
You may attach up to 20 pages of Supplementary Materials to your Narrative, such as:

  • Résumés of named staff members (required)
  • Examples of position descriptions for staff to be hired with grant funds (required, if applicable)
  • Detailed work plan charts to supplement the Narrative (required)
  • Results of previous research on related topics
  • Statements of commitment to the project by partners

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

Project Budget

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 in-direct 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.

  • You must submit a budget on the NARA/NEH Budget form found in the application package. Note that the form itself contains additional instructions. You may include with your application a narrative budget supplement for budget categories not otherwise explained in the project narrative.
  • Provide specific budget figures, rounding to the nearest dollar.

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 only to pay the salaries of individuals actually working on the project.
  • You may include the time provided to the project by advisory board members and volunteers.

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 specifications for equipment over $5,000 in a supplemental budget narrative.

Indirect costs: Include reasonable or negotiated "overhead" costs. See the Budget Form instructions to determine how to calculate indirect costs.

  • You should not include indirect costs that exceed your cost sharing obligation.
  • You may waive indirect costs and instead include specific overhead costs in the appropriate budget categories.

Application Review

The NHPRC staff will acknowledge receipt of the application soon after we receive it. We then begin the evaluation process:

  1. Peer Reviewers
    We may ask 5 to 10 external peer reviewers to evaluate the proposal.

  2. Commission Staff
    Approximately 2 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 make overall recommendations to the Archivist 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.

  3. 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. 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.

Application Cycle

  • August 1, 2008 - Submit draft to the NHPRC (optional).
  • October 6, 2008 - Deadline - Final proposal due.
  • May 2009 - Commission meets.
  • June 1, 2009 - Earliest possible starting date for project.


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 to the Archivist to 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.

Grant Administration

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

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