State Board Programming Grants

State Historical Records Advisory Boards assist the National Historical Publications and Records Commission in carrying out its mission and extending its reach through state-based activities. The NHPRC is revising its state board grants program to focus on public programming that results in enhanced online access to records, increased public understanding and use of archives, and collaborative approaches to statewide services or problem solving among multiple repositories or parties. We invite your comments and suggestions for this revised program.

The Commission will award grants to state boards to:

  • Provide educational and outreach programs, workshops, and other activities that enhance citizen and student engagement with historical records.
  • Operate state-based regrant and scholarship programs that advance access to historical records.
  • Collaborate on projects with other organizations to address common problems or shared opportunities within a state or among a consortium of state archives.
  • Hold or participate in meetings and public forums on statewide or national archival issues.

The NHPRC expects to award approximately 20 grants in this program. The total amount allocated for this program is up to $700,000. Grants begin no earlier than TO BE DETERMINED (TBD).

Proposed application deadlines: DRAFT TBD; FINAL TBD.

Please read the attached State Board Programming Grants DRAFT announcement [PDF]. We welcome public comments on this draft by March 31, 2014.

To listen to a recording of this webinar, go to


11 thoughts on “State Board Programming Grants

  1. SHRABs have played and will continue to play a critical role in carrying out the mission of the NHPRC through state based activities, such as workshops, re-grant programs, and support of local cultural heritage institutions. I look forward to continuing this work in North Carolina with the State Board Programming Grants. I attended the February 21st webinar and appreciated the opportunity to hear more about the proposed directions for these grants. In NC our SHRAB is just starting to reach out to our citizens and local communities in new ways that promote online access to the services we provide. It is exciting to think of potential new directions for our SHRAB in keeping with the new directions at NHPRC. We also actively watch the programs of other SHRABs to determine if they have ideas that can be adapted here. One important vehicle for that collaboration is when the statewide coordinators have the opportunity to meet together at annual Council of State Archivists meetings. On the webinar the need for NHPRC to restrict administrative costs associated with grants was discussed. This makes complete sense. However, with SHRABs often one size does not fit all. Allowing the SHRAB the flexibility to select the administrative expenses that best fit into the grant budget would be a small change, but an important one. I may find in NC that travel for board members can be covered in our departmental budget, but that may be a hindrance to another state’s budget and need to be included in their State Board Programming Grant. In addition, open meeting rules differ from state to state. A virtual board meeting may be easy in NC, but not in another state. Similarly, putting CoSA dues or partial dues into a NC SHRAB grant may be the only way I am allowed to travel to meet with other state coordinators at the CoSA annual meeting. I encourage the Commission to consider some flexibility in how administrative expense limitations are applied in the revised State Board Support Grants. This would allow states to determine which administrative expenses are best suited for appropriated money and which are better included in a grant budget.

    Several years ago when NHPRC moved to requiring a SHRAB to have an active strategic plan, it was a big change for NC. Looking back I believe it was a very positive one. We use our strategic plan in every meeting and every grant proposal. It has become an important tool for us. We recently went through a two day strategic planning session to create a new plan. The process allowed us to have some substantial conversations about our programming, what works, what needs to be updated, and what new directions we can take. Additionally, strategic plans allow our new board members to quickly understand board priorities. I encourage NHPRC to continue to require SHRABs to maintain an active strategic plan.

    Finally, the limit of only 20 grants in this category is concerning to me. In NC we have worked hard over the last decade to ensure that our SHRAB is firmly rooted in state statute and supported in part by the budget of the Division of Archives and Records. However, without even a small support grant I fear it will be difficult to maintain the current level SHRAB programming. It may cause our board to become less active or, even worse, dormant. I imagine it would be the same case in other states. NHPRC does a lot of good work with limited funding through this grant category. We need to allow more access to this support, not limit it to only 20 states and territories.

  2. Making the grants competitive, so that some states would not be funded, harkens back to something NHPRC abandoned over 20 years ago. Circa 1990, SHRABs applied competitively for funding for their activities, so a SHRAB would get a program going, run it for a few years, lose funding, drop out of sight for a year or two, then the program would come back. No continuity, no building on momentum. NHPRC recognized that it was important for SHRABs to maintain at least a certain level of activity and instituted Administrative Support grants ($10,000/year, I think) so that Boards could maintain a presence. That was good, except that then the SHRAB was submitting two separate applications, one for the Administrative Support grant, and another for competitive projects. That model morphed into the current SNAP grants, where you only need to administer one grant, part of which was steady, and part competitive.
    Now, it sounds like NHPRC is going back to something they previously concluded doesn’t work – sporadic funding of the SHRABs. For Maine, it means that activities of the MHRAB will come to a halt in years it is not funded. Total staffing of the Maine State Archives, including Records Management, is 13 people. It is the NHPRC funding that allows the MHRAB to hire someone for the minimal administrative time to take care of the bureaucratic functions of the Board, coordinate self-funded archival workshops, and answer phone inquiries. This will make the programs that are funded much less effective, because the MHRAB will have lost its connection with the field in the intervening time.
    The emphasis in the proposed draft is heavily on online access, but I assume that is because it is the new piece. I would hate to see NHPRC lessen its support for basic rehousing and cataloging. First, you have to preserve.

  3. Limiting the grants to 20 in this category concerns me. As with Maine, SHRAB activities in Wyoming would stop during years when the Board is not funded. Any momentum the WY SHRAB has is the result of consistent funding. If funding becomes less consistent, the Board will be much less productive.
    I am also concerned about the effects of removing CoSA dues from the grant. Wyoming cannot afford to support CoSA at the level it does currently with grant support. I suspect other states are in the same position. The Wyoming State Archives has benefited greatly from a strong and active CoSA. Programs such as SERI and IPER have provided us terrific training and networking opportunities. All state archives benefit from having a strong national organization and I am concerned that without NHPRC help CoSA will not be able to continue its current level of activity.

  4. Previously, state board grants provided an amount to support the basic activities of the SHRABs. This amount, while not excessive, was helpful to foster ongoing, reliable SHRAB programs in our state. The board could augment that basic support with various activities, including training programs, re-grants, and records preservation. Even when we did not receive supplemental funding, our state was able to continue basic board activities and establish a continuing, functioning program. The new grant program for state boards seems to undervalue the importance of consistency in SHRAB support, in SHRAB programs, and in the boards themselves. Some states, ours among them, probably will not have funding to continue with a SHRAB if their grant proposal is rejected. We have no state funding to maintain the SHRAB and so our board would become inactive without federal funding. The new program seems to be an all or nothing program and does not allow for the basic funding necessary to keep SHRABs active.

    With only 20 grants divided among the SHRABS, past experience indicates that most of the funding year after year goes to the same states—and probably those states in the east and on the west coast. Those most in need might not get the required funds. And to add to the hardship, if a state archives does not receive funding needed to maintain an active SHRAB, then it will also not qualify for any other NHPRC grant because an active SHRAB is a requirement for a state archives to apply (while not a requirement for another type of organization).

    The new grant program for state boards focuses mainly on digital records and online access to records. However, the flaw is the lack of emphasis on the preservation of historic records in this grant program. Having historic records properly processed and housed is vital to providing useful online access and the ongoing preservation of historical records. Many of the municipalities and institutions in our state still need funding for basic records preservation. This basic records preservation needs to occur before they can move onto the digitization of the records. There is not much in the grant program that allows for this preservation without also including digitization as part of the project.

  5. I agree that increased accessibility to historical records via digital format would be a good thing. However, the sad truth remains that many of our repositories are light years away from being in a position to digitize records. Even if their collections were organized, processed and properly housed, many of them do not have the technological knowledge or the requisite equipment to undertake digitization projects.

    Eliminating or decreasing the grants as they are now would seriously undermine our efforts to improve archival collections care and management across the state. Currently, NHPRC grants help fund the Tennessee Archives Institute. The Institute offers three days of intensive training for archivist from around the state. This training is offered to them at a very low cost and allows them to travel to Nashville. The majority of the archivist who attend have little or no formal archives management training and many are volunteers or part-time employees for rural, economically challenged counties. The loss of the funding for the institute would be a major setback and essentially eliminate affordable training opportunities for archivist and record managers across Tennessee. Most could not afford training from other sources.

    The proposed grant changes seem to eliminate SNAP re-grant funds. These grants, which are small in comparison to many Federal grants, are a major boon to the underfunded, small archival operations in Tennessee. Eliminating these re-grants would seriously hinder TSLA’s ability to support these organizations and would further stymie our efforts to get archival operations started in those counties currently without an archives.

    Ultimately, it would be great to have collections from across the state digitized and widely accessible to the public. Someday, perhaps, we will achieve this. The reality, however, is that we must first process our archival treasures and undertake proper care or there will be nothing that remains to be digitized in the future. We must endeavor to keep funds and training funneling down to our local archives through NHPRC money. I have included a comment from a recent SNAP grant recipient from a rural Tennessee county that started archival operations less than a year ago. It was written to one of my co-workers.

    Dear Genny,

    Thank you so much for the encouraging e-mail. I appreciate your post of the Dyer Co. Archives article and picture on the TSLA Facebook Web site. I forwarded it to Mayor Hill and Steve Walker this morning. We are so grateful for the Direct grant and the SNAP regrant that the Dyer Co. Archives received in 2013. Some of our early record books are in a bad stage of falling apart, so this money helps us get archival boxes for each book and storage units to store them.

    With the SNAP regrant, volunteers are processing over 1700 tri-folded wills with original signatures and getting each into archival folders and ready for microfilming. Thank goodness for our wonderful volunteers. Being a new archives could be an overwhelming experience, but we have received much cooperation from our local officials, our records commission, the Dyersburg State Gazette, our volunteers, and fellow archivists. This is certainly not a one-man operation!

    The Archives Institute was so helpful to me.

    Have a great week!
    Marilyn Holmes
    Dyer County Archivist

    Myers Brown
    Deputy State Historical Records Coordinator
    Archivist, Archives Development Program
    Tennessee State Library and Archives
    403 7th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243
    Phone: 615-253-3470

  6. I would like to comment on the “State Board Programming Grants” portion of the draft NHPRC plan. The proposal to cut back to 20 the number of State and National Archival Partnership (SNAP) grants is a serious step BACKWARDS on the part of NHPRC. These regrants, administered through the SHRABs in every state, are the one NHPRC program that actually reaches and helps to sustain the thousands of historical records repositories across America. Everything else you do is geared toward large institutional archives, academic editing projects, or high-tech digital projects that have almost nothing to do with the nuts-and-bolts arrangement, preservation and access work going on in smaller, citizen-operated archives around the country.

    To recount all the good work accomplished with the SNAP grants in Tennessee would require many pages of narrative. Tennessee’s network of 75 county archives has been nurtured and developed with SNAP funds. In these largely volunteer archives, local citizens clean, arrange, and make available to the public circuit and chancery court case files with supplies, acid-free folders and boxes, and metal shelves purchased with SNAP funds. The training they receive to do proper archival work comes from the annual Tennessee Archives Institute, supported with SNAP money.

    Reducing the SNAP grants is a move in exactly the wrong direction. With these SNAP grants going to small repositories with locally-based records, NHPRC was actually supporting citizen involvement in archival work and getting far more “bang for its buck” than with the larger grant programs. Instead of expanding the support for local archives that need the most help—support that is directed and distributed by the state boards who are closest to their state’s records—this proposal draws back into a centrally directed, top-down mode which will invariably favor elite institutions. It is, indeed, as my colleague David Haury has said, the anti-PAHR.

    Why would NHPRC want to curtail a grant program that enables so much good grass-roots work for a pittance of Federal money?? Your proposal to cut back these small SNAP regrants that help struggling archives in favor of big-ticket technology projects and large grants to well-endowed institutional archives is a classic example of Beltway elitism that people so dislike about the Federal government.

  7. I sent an email to NHPRC about these changes, but I’ve summarized what I think should not be changed from the current state board grants:

    1) Travel and administrative funding for state board meetings

    2) Travel and administrative funding for Archives Month activities

    3) Funding for other Archives Month programming, such as posters or events

    4) Funding for strategic planning for state boards (and continuation of the current requirement that state boards have a strategic plan before receiving funding)

    5) Ability to pay CoSA dues with grant funds

    6) Award more than 20 grants per year

    State Boards and CoSA provide necessary behind the scenes administrative support that results in preservation of records for later use by the American public. We have to have administration in order to ensure preservation and use of archival materials.

  8. The New York State Historical Records Advisory Board is a strong voice for the historical record in New York. Our mission, as stated in our strategic plan focuses strongly on increasing access to and use of the rich historical records by the people of this state. The directions planned for the new State Board Programming grants are consistent with the parameters of our efforts for the past two decades. To date we have undertaken a range of projects with NHPRC funding to promote access to records ranging from valuable resources in small to mid-size repositories, to ensuring access to born-digital records, and believe the revised program direction will allow us to continue in our defined strategic directions.

    However, there are some concerns we have about the specifics relating to administrative support as defined in the draft grant description provided and we feel they need revision and reconsideration to ensure the State Board program remains vital both in New York and in our sister states.

    The NHPRC requires certain administrative functions relating to State Historical Records Advisory Boards in CFR 1206, Subpart D relating to “State Records Programs”. These administrative functions are mandated by NHPRC, and in light of that fact, we believe the NY SHRAB, and comparably SHRABs in other states, should have the option and opportunity to seek some amount of funding to support those federal requirements.

    First, NHPRC mandates the existence of an appointed State Historical Records Advisory Board and states that an active board is required for organizations within a state to apply for NHPRC grants. (CFR 1206.44) While making this a requirement, it is an entirely unfunded mandate, and in these times of serious fiscal constraints in states, including ours, that is not a cost we can fund through state resources.

    NHPRC requires the State Coordinator to be the chief of the State archival agency, in effect assigning mandated duties to a state official although the regulations specify that the State Coordinator is not a federal official or employee and will receive no compensation. Those duties include chairing the board, reporting annually on appointments and membership, and coordinating the SHRAB’s planning activities as well as review of NHPRC grants. (CFR 1206.42) To be done effectively, these responsibilities require real commitments of time and state resources to support a federal program. To accomplish just these mandated activities requires minimally 40 hours annually of the State Coordinator’s time, a cost contribution from state resources of $3,000. This does not in any way address the additional State Archives staff time and resources needed to support the Coordinator or the work of the Board.

    The SHRAB is required to develop and submit a strategic plan to the NHPRC that states priorities for historical records projects, and to review and make recommendations on all state and local projects submitted to NHPRC. (CFR 1206.41). SHRAB members serve voluntarily, and our individual institutions support our attendance at meetings and involvement in SHRAB mandated activities —again providing commitment of time and institutional resources to support a federal program. In New York, for example, our nine Board members each spend a conservatively estimated 40 hours a year just on SHRAB mandated activities. At an average contribution rate of $500 per day, or $2500 per year per board member, the cost contribution from our SHRAB members and their institutions is $22,500.

    In light of the non-federal resources devoted to ensure a functioning SHRAB to support and carry out a federal program, it seems appropriate that a modest percentage of NHPRC funding be permitted to offset the considerable voluntary contributions of state officials and SHRAB members. The few thousand dollars for administrative costs that the New York SHRAB has requested for administrative support in no way equals the contributed time of the state coordinator and SHRAB members as well as the resources that New York additionally provides to support the work of the federally-mandated SHRAB.

    Conservatively estimated, and based on meeting the administrative functions of the SHRAB only, New York as noted above annually contributes in kind funding of $25,500 to support this federal mandate. If we were to add the additional costs of “non-mandated” activities contributed by staff of the State Archives and of our SHRAB, that cost-contribution would easily triple.

    We believe in the value of the SHRAB and are willing to make those additional contributions for the benefit of the historical record and the people of the State of New York. However, we submit that the modest administrative costs that we have requested in the past of several thousand dollars per grant is by no means an inappropriate use of federal funds. It is, rather, a very appropriate use to ensure the continuation of the strong and highly functioning New York SHRAB.

    Finally, we recognize that the NHPRC is constrained by the severely limited funding available for the grants program. Our board has actively raised this issue every year with our members of Congress, and has worked with our colleagues in the state of New York to urge not only full-funding of NHPRC, but an expansion to ensure that historical records receive the kind of support already provided by the federal government to libraries, museums and historic sites. We strongly urge the NHPRC and the National Archives to take action to address the reauthorization of NHPRC and to include in that effort a much more expansive, appropriately funded resource for this nation’s archival record. We stand ready to provide support and action to help accomplish this purpose on behalf of New Yorkers and the people of this nation.

    Submitted on behalf of the NY State Historical Records Advisory Board

    Elaine Engst, co-chair
    Director and University Archivist
    Rare and Manuscripts Collections
    Cornell University

    Geoffrey Williams, co-chair
    University Archivist and Records Manager
    University at Albany

  9. NHPRC,

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

    –The new Programming Grants apparently abandon funding for Archives Month posters. This has been a very successful and highly visible outreach program for us in Oregon. I would hate to see it stop abruptly. Dan Stokes told me last year something to the effect that the NHPRC Commissioners were doubting the value of Archives Month, and especially the posters. I think the majority of SHRAB’s beg to differ.

    –Making the grants competitive will result in some SHRAB’s receiving no funding. This will probably result in their demise. If the NHPRC still wants to maintain a fifty-state network of SHRAB’s then it must provide minimal administrative support, available to all of the SHRABs. What we may end up with is a core of States that perpetually receive funding, while the rest drop out. I don’t think this is what the NHPRC had in mind when they created the SHRAB program.

    –The proposed change to require only 25% in-kind support vs. 50% is very helpful.

    –The NHPRC’s focus on digital literacy, online access, and online publishing is appropriate. These are exactly the areas that our public is demanding.


    Dan Cantrall
    SHRAB Deputy Coordinator
    Oregon State Archives
    800 Summer St. NE
    Salem, OR 97310
    (503) 378-5222

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