Literacy and Engagement

The National Archives has launched several new projects to encourage people to become “citizen archivists” and join in crowdsourcing efforts to improve historical records content online. At the same time, it has become clear that greater levels of digital literacy and understanding are necessary to ensure that people can not only access historical records but preserve and publish their own documents and archives.

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission has created a new grant program to explore ways to improve digital literacy for archives users and encourage citizen engagement with historical records. We invite your comments and suggestions for this new program.

The Literacy and Engagement grant program offers support for projects that will result in archives reaching audiences through digital literacy programs and workshops, new tools and applications, and active citizen engagement in archival processes.

Our initial emphasis is in three areas: educational partnerships to teach digital archiving skills; innovative tools and applications, include mobile apps; and new or ongoing efforts to use crowdsourcing to provide greater access to online historical records.

The NHPRC is looking to fund pilot projects to:

  1. Develop partnerships among archival repositories and educational institutions to teach people, particularly students, how to find, evaluate, and use primary source documents using digital technologies. The NHPRC seeks to support outreach programs for personal digital archiving; digital archives curriculum development; and similar efforts to teach digital literacy skills to historical records users.
  2. Create or develop new online tools and applications, including mobile apps, to enhance public understanding and access to historical records.
  3. Enlist “citizen archivists” in projects to accelerate digitization and online public access to historical records. This may include, but is not limited to, improving crowdsourcing efforts for identifying, tagging, transcribing, annotating, or otherwise enhancing digitized historical records.

The Commission expects to make up to six grants of between $50,000 and $150,000. The total amount allocated for this program is up to $500,000. Grants begin no earlier than TO BE DETERMINED (TBD).

Application deadlines: DRAFT TBD; FINAL TBD.

Please read the Literacy & Engagement with Historical Records Grant Announcement [PDF]. We welcome your comments here on the NHPRC blog – please supply any comments by March 31, 2014.

A recording of a February 24 webinar on this topic is available at

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