Publishing Historical Records
The Commission supports projects that publish documentary editions of historical records. Produced under rigorous standards, Commission-sponsored documentary projects make important primary source materials from all periods of American history more accessible and understandable.
The Commission especially welcomes projects that focus on broad historical movements in U.S. history, such as law (including the social and cultural history of the law), politics, social reform, business, military, the arts, and other aspects of the national experience, including any aspect of African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and Native American history. Projects may also center on the papers of major figures from American history.
In the course of our history, the Commission has funded or endorsed more than 300 projects that have preserved and published on microfilm, in print editions, and digital editions online. Many of these projects, which bring papers and documents together with annotations, have provided the backbone of research for well-known prize-winning works by historians and writers such as Walter Isaacson, David McCullough, Joseph Ellis, Tera Hunter, Jill Lepore, and Ron Chernow. In turn, those works have been instrumental in new works from the Broadway musical “Hamilton” to Ken Burns’s documentary “Vietnam.”
Organizations may apply through the Publishing Historical Records category, which currently has two annual deadlines. Grants are awarded for collecting, describing, preserving, compiling, transcribing, annotating, editing, encoding, and publishing documentary source materials online and in print.
All new projects must publish a digital edition which provides online access to a searchable collection of all documents. The NHPRC encourages projects to provide free access to online editions.
As part of its Strategic Plan, NHPRC began working with digital editions on ways to build a sustainable system for the digital publication and discovery of historical records, and in 2016, formed a partnership with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund the Digital Editions Publishing Cooperatives program.
In January 2021, the NHPRC again partnered with the Mellon Foundation to launch the NHPRC-Mellon Start-Up Grants for Collaborative Digital Editions in African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and Native American History program, with the aim of expanding cultural diversity in American history. For details on how to apply, visit the current grant announcement here.