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D. Application Requirements

A project proposal must include the following elements:

1. A signed "Application for Federal Assistance" form (Standard Form 424), a signed "Assurances--Non-Construction Programs" form (Standard Form 424B), a signed "Certification Regarding Debarment, Suspension, and Other Responsibility Matters - Primary Covered Transaction" form, and a signed "Certification Regarding Drug-Free Workplace Requirements" form for the current fiscal year.


A budget submitted on the standard form included in this brochure (see example in Appendix B) that lists all items to be funded or supplied by the applicant and the Commission. Calculate a separate budget for each project year if the grant period exceeds eighteen months. Additional instructions may be found with the budget form and in the "Suggestions for Applicants" section below.

3. A two-page "Project Summary" statement providing concise information about the project's purpose, significance, plan of work, intended product, and key personnel. Applicants should use the formatted summary pages provided in this brochure.

4. A narrative description of the project outlining its significance, purpose, goals, intended product, and plan of work.

5. A statement of the availability of facilities and major items of equipment to be supplied by the sponsoring institution.

6. A list of all personnel directly associated with the project, including the amount of time that each participant will devote to it.

7. Vitae for the project director and other key project personnel and job descriptions and recruitment plans for positions to be filled during the project.

8. Appropriate appendices, such as sample pages of a proposed finding aid; an article describing the applicant institution and its holdings; a resolution from the applicant's administrative body committing financial support to continuation of the program after the grant period; and statements of support from groups or organizations whose records or programs will be directly affected by the project.


E. Funding Restrictions

Restricted access to the documents

Projects are ineligible in which a major portion of the processed documents will be kept closed to researchers for an extended period of time, in which documents are not accessible to all qualified users on equal terms, or in which it is the repository's policy to deny public access. Applicants must thoroughly discuss any proposed or actual restrictions in the proposal. "Standards for Access to Research Materials in Archival and Manuscripts Repositories" (Appendix 1 of Sue E. Holbert, Archives and Manuscripts: Reference and Access (Society of American Archivists, 1977), expresses the Commission's views on access to historical records. Single copies of this policy statement may be obtained from the Records Program staff.

Temporary or private custody of documents

Arrangement, description, and preservation projects are ineligible if the documents are privately owned or deposited in an institution subject to withdrawal upon demand. The Commission will, however, consider applications involving documents which, for legal reasons, may not be transferred by deed of gift from an agency to a repository, but which have been placed on permanent deposit in that institution.

Federal government records

Arrangement, description, and preservation projects involving Federal government records are ineligible unless the records have been permanently deposited in a non-Federal institution under an agreement authorized by the National Archives and Records Administration.

Equipment, improvements, and real estate

Under no circumstances will the Commission support acquisition of routine equipment such as office furnishings, shelving, and file cabinets. The Commission will consider providing grant funds for the purchase of technical equipment essential for the project only if the applicant demonstrates that purchase will be less expensive than rental costs during the grant period. In most instances, the Commission prefers to provide a maximum of fifty percent of equipment costs from grant funds; the remaining costs should be provided through cost sharing. These restrictions apply both to expendable equipment (i.e., equipment items costing less than $5,000 per unit and included in the "Supplies and Materials" category of the budget) and to permanent equipment (i.e., equipment items costing $5,000 or more per unit and included in the "Other Costs" category of the budget).

The Commission does not provide grant funds for the construction, renovation, or purchase of any building or land or for the rental of space. However, grant funds may be used for general assessments of existing facilities and needs and to create "model" facilities designs applicable to multiple repositories. Proposal budgets may show equipment purchase costs or rental and building renovation costs under cost sharing without any restriction.


The Commission does not fund staff travel to professional meetings unless the travel is essential to accomplish the goals of the project.


Personal papers of public officials

Prospective applicants should consult the Commission staff before preparing and submitting proposals pertaining to the personal papers of public officials. At present, the Commission prefers to address general needs, such as improved records management, appraisal, and records sampling techniques, rather than funding arrangement and description of collections of this type.

Requests for grant funds to support work relating to specific collections of papers of elected or appointed officials at all levels of government are not ordinarily accepted by the Commission while those officials are still in office, except for minor offices. The Commission will not accept proposals relating to specific collections of papers of elected or appointed government officials until all, or nearly all, of their papers which are to be placed in a given repository have been accessioned by that repository.

Purchase of documents

No grantee may purchase manuscripts or other historical records with grant funds.

Oral history

Prospective applicants should consult the Commission staff before preparing proposals pertaining to oral history materials. At present, the Commission will support oral history interviewing and transcribing only for Native American records proposals. The Commission will, however, consider proposals for the preservation, description, and promotion of the wider use of tapes and transcripts. Requests for detailed indexing of oral history interviews will ordinarily not be supported.

Newspaper and book preservation

The Commission does not support projects for the preservation of newspapers or rare books. Proposals involving the preservation of large newspaper clipping files are eligible for consideration if work on the clipping file is part of a larger archival proposal to the Commission.

Artistic works

The Commission does not support projects of a purely artistic or entertaining nature; however, the Commission does support the preservation and use of documents that describe the processes of production of artistic, entertaining, journalistic, or comparable works.

Records management

The Commission supports projects whose focus is records management, if those activities relate to a broader historical records program. For example, the Commission has funded projects for the development and distribution of retention schedules so that records of archival value will not be discarded. The Commission also has funded surveys, appraisal studies, training of staff, and projects to develop manuals, guidelines, or written evaluations to assist non-archivists who have custody of records of archival value.


Surveys of records

Applicants should discuss survey proposals with the Commission staff before submitting a grant application. The Commission supports projects to survey records not yet in repositories for the purpose of program planning and development. Such surveys are usually part of multi-purpose projects combining identification of records with other activities, such as accessioning, scheduling, and drafting of policy recommendations. A draft survey form, evidence of completion of a pre-test, a statement of procedures, and a detailed discussion of the use of the survey results should accompany any survey proposal submitted to the Commission. The Commission does not support subject-oriented surveys of records already held in repositories when the project goal is development of a descriptive tool, such as a printed guide. The Commission will, however, support comprehensive multi-repository surveys within a state or region or, in some cases, surveys dealing with a particular type of material, such as oral history interviews, even if the project's primary goal is description alone.

RLIN, OCLC, and the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections

Grantees are encouraged to enter descriptions of materials arranged and described with Commission support into such bibliographic networks as the Research Libraries Information Network (RLIN) and the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) and/or submit reports to the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC). Repositories which are entering their records into RLIN or OCLC should send a printout copy of each bibliographic records to NUCMC.

Preservation projects

Although the records program supports proposals that request funds for acid neutral containers and other archival supplies, fumigation, deacidification, and other mass treatments of records, and limited conservation work in special cases, applicants should note that the program's emphasis is on preservation of the information in historical records rather than preservation of records in their original form because of their artifact value.

The records program prefers not to support expensive document restoration work if there are alternative means of preserving information of historical interest. In practice, this policy means that the Commission rarely supports proposals involving extensive, item-by-item conservation work or the production of copy negatives or reference prints for an entire photographic collection. The Commission prefers to support proposals that employ more cost-effective solutions to archival problems, including the use of microfilm and microfiche.

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State Historical Records Advisory Boards evaluate proposals for state projects (see "Categories of projects" above) and forward their recommendations to the Commission for further action. State Boards may decide that certain proposals are incomplete or require further development. The Board then returns the proposal to the applicant with a recommendation for revision and notifies the Commission staff of its recommendations. In such cases, the Commission takes no official action pending revision and resubmission of the proposal in a future funding cycle. State proposals may also be sent by Records Program staff to outside reviewers to obtain advice to supplement that of the State Board.


State Boards do not usually provide formal review of regional and national proposals; the Records Program staff refers copies of those proposals to qualified outside reviewers, who assist the Commission and its staff in evaluating the proposals. Reviewers may include State Coordinators, particularly those from States affected by the proposal. State Board or Coordinator comments on these proposals, however, are welcome.

The Records Program staff reviews all proposals for completeness, conformity to application requirements, and relevance to the objectives of the Records Program. Proposals that do not meet Commission regulations and/or guidelines are returned to the applicant by the staff. After receiving reviews from State Boards and outside reviewers, the staff requests any additional information that may be required of the applicant and prepares a report to the Commission members.

The Commission meets three times a year. On the advice and recommendation of the Commission, the Archivist of the United States makes grants from appropriated funds and any available private funds. Following Commission meetings, the Commission staff informally notifies Coordinators and applicants of Commission grant recommendations. The Commission may grant all or none of the funds requested, offer partial or conditional funding, reject the proposal but encourage revision and resubmission in a future grant cycle, or defer the application for reconsideration at a later meeting. Applicants whose proposals are rejected, but who are encouraged to revise and resubmit their applications in a future funding cycle, are urged to consult with the Commission staff before doing so. See Appendix C for a statement regarding conflicts of interest involving the Commission and its staff.

VI. Suggestions for Applicants

Proposal evaluation by the NHPRC involves consideration of a State application against the recommendation of the State Board, comparison of the proposal with others submitted to the Commission, and scrutiny of essential proposal elements. Of particular relevance are the historical value of the records to be dealt with; the anticipated impact of the project on archival program development; the potential impact of the project on other institutions and individuals; and the value of the products created by the project. Other important factors include the soundness of the plan of work and techniques; the suitability and qualifications of the staff to undertake the work outlined; the appropriateness of the budget for the planned work; and the urgency of the project and the need for outside funding. Applicants must discuss these matters fully and frankly in each proposal.

A. "Application for Federal Assistance" form and "Project Summary"

The preparation of the "Application for Federal Assistance" form and "Project Summary" are crucial to the success of the application. In particular, the "Project Summary" should be limited to the indicated spaces and should not refer the reader to "see attached." Applications submitted with improperly completed forms and summaries will be returned to the applicant institution and will lose their eligibility for consideration in the funding cycle.

B. Description of Records

Indicate the volume of the records being dealt with by the project. Whenever possible, use standard archival measurements, such as cubic or linear feet (for paper records) or number of items (for photographs). In specifying a number of boxes, describe the type and size of box.


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