National Archives Awards $3.9 Million in Grants for Documentary Editing and Archival Projects
Press Release · Thursday, May 20, 2021

Washington, DC

Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero has awarded $3,884,017 for 33 projects in 20 states to improve public access to historical records. The National Archives grants program is carried out through the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). A complete list of new grants is available online at

The NHPRC adopted a new Strategic Plan emphasizing four major goals:

  • Expand public discovery and use of the nation’s historical records. 
  • Foster a greater diversity of voices in telling the American story through historical records collections. ​
  • Connect the National Archives with ​​the nation’s archives. 
  • Engage the American people in preserving and ​publishing historical records collections that tell the American story​.

The complete plan is available at

Grants went to 17 documentary editing projects to publish the papers of key American figures and movements, including Jane Addams, George Washington, and a history of emancipation. Among those is a new project at the University of West Florida to publish the Papers of Roger Taney: A Digital Documentary Edition, which brings together primary sources relating to the fifth Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, who is infamous for delivering the majority opinion in the Dred Scott case.

Two grants went to projects to increase public engagement with historical records. Tennessee State Library and Archives will undertake a project designed to facilitate opportunities for teachers and students through teacher workshops and webinars, and expansion of the DocsBox program, which provides hands-on original and reproduction materials and historical primary sources. The University of New Orleans will undertake a project to create a curriculum using the “Freedom on the Move” database of advertisements seeking runaway enslaved 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 and then develop public-facing projects, including maps, visual art, and spoken word, and digital and video pieces. 

Providing public access to historical records is the focus of 14 projects:

  • Early legislative papers and court records at the Delaware Public Archives, the Maryland State Archives, and the Rhode Island Historical Society
  • Significant historical government collections in New Jersey at Seton Hall University and major collections from the Pittsburgh City Archives
  • Oral history by exiled and emigre scientists at the Science History Institute 
  • Papers of five women who were pioneers in behavioral developmental pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco
  • The records of novelist and civil rights activist Lillian E. Smith 
  • Audiovisual records from The Black Academy of Arts and Letters
  • Additional footage from the documentary on American Hasidism, A Life Apart
  • Records from the Indianapolis Museum of Art
  • Musical programs from performances (1918–2009) of the Cleveland Orchestra 
  • Union College’s collection of the papers of John Bigelow, co-editor of the New York Evening Post and founder and first president of the New York Public Library
  • Silent film musical scores from Grauman’s Theatres


Christopher Eck, Executive Director of the NHPRC, presented the grant applications and policy issues to the full Commission. The Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero, is the Chairman of the Commission. Established in 1934, the NHPRC awards grants for preserving, publishing, and providing access to historical documents.


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This page was last reviewed on June 25, 2021.
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