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United States.

National Historical Publications and Records Commission, Records Program

Guidelines and Procedures: Table of Contents

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July 1989


I. Scope and Purpose

Originally established by Congress in 1934, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) is a statutory body.affiliated with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Representation on the Commission is fixed by law to include a member of the Federal judiciary, one member each from the United States House of Representatives and the Senate, two presidential appointees, the Librarian of Congress or an alternate, the Secretary of State or an alternate, the Secretary of Defense or an alternate, and one representative each from the American Association for State and Local History, the American Historical Association, the Association for Documentary Editing, the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators, the Organization of American Historians, and the Society of American Archivists (see Appendix F for a list of current Commission members). The Archivist of the United States serves as chairman.

Under the provisions of Public Law 100-365 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 25), the Commission is authorized to undertake a wide range of activities relating to the preservation, publication, and use of documentary sources relating to the history of the United States, and to recommend to the Archivist of the United States the expenditure of funds (usually in the form of grants) to support State and local government agencies, nonprofit organizations and institutions, and individuals undertaking those activities. Appropriated funds to support these grants are provided as part of the annual appropriation from Congress for the National Archives.

II. General Administration

As head of the National Archives and Records Administration, the Federal gency of which the NHPRC program is a part, the Archivist of the United States is authorized to prescribe regulations necessary to administer the agency and its programs. Specific regulations for the NHPRC have been developed and can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations (36 CFR Part 1206). The Commission's regulations are periodically revised to reflect changing administrative needs and practices. [Copies of the portion of the Code of Federal Regulations and the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) relating to the NHPRC are available upon request. ] Federal regulations carry the force of law and, along with authorization legislation, provide the legal authority for the Commission and its programs. The grant programs are also listed in section 89.003 of the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance.

In order to administer the grant funds appropriated by Congress and to undertake other activities, the Commission has established two programs, a Publications Program, which provides support for historical documentary editing projects, and a Records Program, which provides support for a wide range of activities relating to historical records. Each of these programs has developed guidelines to assist prospective applicants in developing proposals for funding and to articulate priorities, procedures, and preferred technical approaches to the work being undertaken. In addition, the Commission's grant programs are administered in accordance with Federal grant regulations promulgated by the Office of Management and the Budget.

Commission staff members are employees of the National Archives and Records Administration and funds to support the day-to-day administration of the Commission's programs (as opposed to grant funds) are allocated as part of the regular budget of the National Archives.


I. Scope and Purpose

Through its Records Program, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission encourages a greater effort by private organizations and government to preserve and make available for use those records that further an understanding and appreciation of American history. In the public sector, historical records document significant activities of state, county, municipal, tribal, and other units of government. In the private and public sectors, historical records can include manuscripts, personal and family papers, and organizational and corporate archives that are maintained by a variety of repositories, as well as other original documentary materials such as photographs, motion pictures, architectural records, and electronic records. In order to foster the development of programs to preserve and make available these records, the Commission supports projects to advance the state of the art, to promote cooperative efforts among institutions and organizations, and to improve the knowledge, performance, and professional skills of those who work with historical records. In addition, the Commission supports projects relating directly to a body of records.

II. Administration of the Program

The Records Program is a cooperative effort of the NHPRC, State Historical Records Coordinators and Advisory Boards, and institutions, organizations, and individuals throughout the country concerned with the records of the nation.

A. Commission Staff

The Executive Director, the Director of the Records Program, and the staff of the Commission administer the Records Program under the guidance of the Commission and the immediate administrative direction of its chairman, the Archivist of the United States.

B. State Historical Records Coordinators

As specified in the regulations governing the NHPRC (36 CFR Part 1206), the governor of each state desiring to participate in the program appoints a State Historical Records Coordinator, who must be the full-time professional official in charge of either the State archival agency or the State-funded historical agency. If the State has both agencies, the official who is not appointed Coordinator must be named a member of the State Historical Records Advisory Board. The Coordinator is appointed for a four-year term with the possibility of renewal.

C. State Historical Records Advisory Boards

The governor also appoints a State Historical Records Advisory Board consisting of at least seven members, including the State Coordinator, who chairs the Board. The Board should be as broadly representative as possible of the public and private archives, records offices, and research institutions and organizations in the State. A majority of the members must have recognized experience in the administration of government records, historical records or archives. Board members receive no Federal compensation for their service. They are to be appointed to three-year, staggered, renewable terms.

The Board is the central advisory body for State projects and records planning. The Board makes funding recommendations to the Commission

concerning records grant applications from institutions and organizations in the State. The Board may also undertake projects and studies of its own, solicit or develop proposals for Commission-funded projects, and review the progress of State category grants funded by the Commission

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The following are examples of some of the types of activities that have received funding in recent years from the Commission:

development of improved records programs for State, tribal, and
local governments and private organizations
research leading to the improvement of recordkeeping techniques
and processes in all areas, including automation
education and training of archivists, records custodians, and

historical agency administrators
-- establishment of new records programs at institutions that will

support the programs on a continuing basis
arrangement, description, and preservation of historical records,
including textual and electronic records, photographs, films, and
sound recordings
comprehensive, multi-institutional guides and databases
describing historical records (see p. 12)
surveys of records not in repositories (see p. 12)
feasibility studies leading to major project proposals
consultant grants

In general, the Commission prefers to fund projects that hold promise of broad impact within the recordkeeping professions, that utilize accepted professional standards, that contribute to the development of innovative techniques, that contribute to the development of new or improved records programs, and that make records of key national and regional historical significance available for use.

B. Categories of Projects

The project category determines the nature of the review process and, to some extent, defines the scope of the project's potential impact.

State projects: Projects directed by organizations operating within and/or involving records or activities within one State. Records or activities of such projects typically will be under the administrative control of the organization applying for the grant. The records or activities need not relate to the history of the State.

Regional projects: Projects involving records or activities in more than one State in a region. Regional projects include those undertaken by regional archival groups or consortia.

National projects: Projects involving records or activities in several regions or in widely separated States. In general, the location of the records and/or the site of grant-funded activities will determine the category of submission. National projects include those administered by


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