National Historical Publications & Records Commission

Public Engagement Projects

For projects that encourage citizen engagement with historical records, especially those available online.

FY 2021

Tennessee State Library and Archives
Nashville, TN

$150,000 to support Creating Classroom Engagement with Tennessee’s Historical Records, a project designed to facilitate opportunities for teachers and students in Tennessee to engage with historical records drawn from the collections of the Tennessee State Library and Archives through series of teacher workshops and webinars, and through expansion of the DocsBox program, which provides hands-on original and reproduction materials and historical primary sources to support Tennessee social studies curriculum standards. 


University of New Orleans
New Orleans, LA

$149,700 to support Freedom on the Move in New Orleans: Teaching and Learning the Hard History of Slavery in K-12. This project will create a curriculum to help students engage with the historical records in a database of advertisements seeking escaped people. Following instruction in the classroom, students will explore New Orleans and the region to visualize the social, spatial, and cultural histories of enslaved people. Students will then develop public-facing projects, including maps, visual art, and spoken word, and digital and video pieces.

FY 2020

Teachers College, Columbia University
New York, NY
$135,040 to support a collaborative  drawing together resources from Columbia’s Center on History and Education, the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Brooklyn College, and the New York Municipal Archives to create the New York Civil Rights Curriculum, a digital teaching resource that includes digital surrogates of primary sources, teaching ideas, a chronology of key events, and videos which focuses on the history of racial segregation and desegregation and on the struggle for disability rights in New York City.

Wayne State University
Detroit, MI
$83,100 to support a collaborative among professors in Wayne State’s College of Education, archivists at the Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, and Detroit-area teachers to create a platform for archives-based curriculum units and lesson plans for K-12 classrooms and  learning community groups of teachers and teaching students using the platform.

FY 2019

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA                                                                                   

$45,839 to support the “Becoming U.S. Teacher Institute,” a week-long summer institute for approximately three dozen K-12 educators to introduce them to archival research and provide them with strategies for using primary source materials for building lesson plans within the curriculum.


The History Center in Tompkins County
Ithaca, NY                                                                                         

$132,946 to support HistoryForge, a web application that combines information from U.S. census records, Sanborn maps, and other records in to an interactive framework of human and spatial relationships that illustrate what communities looked like and how they evolved over time. The project will plan and offer curriculum development workshops to middle- and high-school teachers, as well as work with other communities to set up their own instances of HistoryForge.

FY 2018

St. Lawrence University
Canton, NY       
$101,000 to support “North Country at Work,” a project to document the traditions and history of labor and industry in the Adirondack North Country. In collaboration with North Country Public Radio, the university’s Library’s Special Collections and Vance University Archives will hold a series of community events in six communities, as well as six locations within the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne, working with libraries, museums, and historical societies to scan historical photographs and collect digital images. In each local community, the partners will curate, print, and mount a collection of 10-30 images and stories that illustrate the community’s work history and traditions. The public events will provide content for a digital archive, for broadcast, for social media, and podcasts.

Museum of Chinese in America
New York, NY           
$50,000 to support “Our Family Treasures,” a project to develop and implement programs and education workshops aimed at preserving, digitizing, and showcasing family and community history and culture. The Museum will offer five Preserving Heritage Materials Workshops to teach participants how to conserve/preserve documents and artifacts as well as 12 Digitization and Consultation sessions. The project will conclude with a day-long event that brings together community partners, scholars, preservationists, museum professionals, and participants to discuss and reflect upon the year’s activities.

FY 2017 

Dickinson College
Carlisle, PA
$76,249 to support a project to enhance public engagement, discovery, and gather contributions to the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center. Dickinson College has digitized more than 225,000 pages of records from the Carlisle Indian School (1879-1918), which was designed to assimilate Native children into mainstream Euro-American society. The project will offer a curriculum development workshop for 12 high school teachers to develop lesson plans using the Center’s materials; and workshops in five native communities to share curricular materials, solicit evaluation of the Center, and encourage community members to contribute materials to the Center.

University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 
$75,457 to support a project to create a Digital Rocky Mount Mills, a curated digital collection of records documenting the history of the cotton mills and their place in the region. The project will collaborate with community partners to develop an archival toolkit, a pilot program to create instructional materials for K-12 teachers and a teacher workshop, and to design a workflow for genealogists of African American descent to use the historical resources of one of the largest mill communities in North Carolina, which shaped the southeastern Piedmont for more than a century.

Alabama Bicentennial Commission Foundation
Montgomery, AL 
$148,950 to support a project to use historical records as part of the three-year commemoration of the bicentennial of the state of Alabama. The project will offer professional development training for third-to-fifth grade teachers on using existing digital collections a the state archives to create lesson plans and to engage students through historical records to develop higher-order thinking skills, digital literacy skills, understanding of history, and the habits and skills of citizen historians. The Bicentennial Commission will collaborate with the Alabama Department of Archives & History, the Alabama Department of Education, and the Alabama Learning Exchange to include all 138 school districts and numerous historical and cultural sites throughout the state.

FY 2016 

University of Rochester
Rochester, NY
$97,434 to support to a collaborative project where volunteers from Highlands at Pittsford, a retirement community will work with undergraduate and graduate students to assist in the preparation of a digital edition of the papers of the Seward Family. The Seward Family digital archives centers on Frances Miller Seward and her husband, William H. Seward, governor of New York (1838-1842), U.S. Senator (1849-1860) and U.S. Secretary of State (1860-1869).

Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Cleveland, OH
$78,000 to support a collaborative project, which involves the Archives of the Cleveland Museum of History, Baldwin Wallace University, and the University of Akron’s Department of Geosciences, to establish curriculum introducing middle school and high school students to historical records created by Arthur B. Williams, an educator who studied the forests and wildlife surrounding Cleveland in the 1930s and developed unique methods of tracking species. Students will compare contemporary observations to historical data to understand both scientific techniques and changing ecosystems.

St. John’s University, New York
Queens, NY
$149,936 To support a project to develop curricula and resources to inspire inquiry-based learning by students in the 10th grade, using students’ family history to connect their own histories with broader trends in the world. The collaborative project will work with the New York City Department of Education and the Queens Memory Project to train teachers in available family history resources appropriate for the classroom.

University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC
$75,860 To support a collaborative project with the university libraries' Digital Collections department in collaboration with the South Carolina Department of Education to work with 45 elementary, middle school, and high school teachers to create Document Based Questions (DBQs) for U.S. history classes. Teachers will draw on the resources of the University for the primary sources, test the DBQs in their classroom, and then publish the results on the South Carolina Digital Library and the Digital Public Library of America.

FY 2015

Connecticut Radio Information Systems, Inc.
Windsor, CT
$67,047 to support an 18-month project, in partnership with the IDEAL Group and the Connecticut State Library, to improve access to selected World War I documents for those with print disabilities. Podcasts of narrations will be created and a suite of tools designed to convert source materials into Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant formats and improve accessibility through knowledge mining.

Keene State College
Keene, NH
$44,601 to support a Citizen Archivist Initiative, in collaboration with the Historical Society of Cheshire County and Keene High School, a two-year project to place 300-500 18th- and 19th-century documents online and teach students and the public to read, interpret, and transcribe them.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Blacksburg, VA
$74,224 to support “Mapping the Fourth of July in the American Civil War Era: A Crowdsourced Digital Archive,” a project to use a variety of primary sources to build a website through which college and high school students, Civil War enthusiasts, and the general public can analyze and discuss how different regions celebrated the Fourth of July during the Civil War.

Henry E. Huntington Library & Art Gallery
San Marino, CA
$107,982 To support in partnership with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, North Carolina State University, and Zooniverse, “Decoding the Civil War: Engaging the Public with 19th Century Technology and Cryptology through Crowdsourcing,” a two-year project to transcribe and decode Civil War military telegrams through crowdsourcing for online access and develop lesson plans for high school students to learn about primary sources from the telegrams.