Revised Strategic Plan Framework

Preface to the National Historical Publications and Records Commission Strategic Plan Framework

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission enhances public access to historical records collections nationwide. The Commission works with state and local governments, historical societies, colleges and universities, and other nonprofit institutions in leading these access efforts through a modest but catalytic grants program. Through its unique position of public outreach, the Commission provides the opportunity to connect the work of the National Archives with the work of the nation’s archives.

From its inception in 1934 as part of the National Archives, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission has focused on the preservation and use of historical records collections in the United States. The Commission has long played a leadership role in meeting the challenges of broadening access to these collections through preservation and access projects, research and development initiatives, and best practices and new methodologies.

Early years were spent spurring the initial development of historical documentary editions. Beginning in the 1960s, the Commission made access happen through its critical support for publishing historical records collections in print and microfilm. It advanced best practices and new methods through the development of the Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents and more recently the Archives Leadership Institute. It proved instrumental in its early investments on electronic records research, encoded archival description, the “More Product/Less Process” protocols, the creation of state historical records advisory boards, the National Forum on Archival Continuing Education, and much more.

Leadership efforts remain a hallmark of the NHPRC.  With this in mind, at their November 2015 meeting the members of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission approved a draft framework for a new Strategic Plan. Through collaboration with the National Archives, other Federal agencies, and private funders, the Commission seeks to enhance its national leadership role, continue its support of our partners in the states, historical documentary editions, and professional development and training, and expands programs designed to enhance public participation in preserving and using historical records collections.

We invite public comment here on the revised framework by February 1, 2016.

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NHPRC Strategic Plan Framework

 

Mission

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission provides opportunities for the American people to discover and use records that increase understanding of our democracy, history, and culture.

Vision

Through leadership initiatives, grants, and fostering the creation of new tools and methods, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission connects the work of the National Archives to the work of the nation’s archives. The Commission acts as a bridge for innovation and creativity in advancing best archival practices, publishing historical records, and connecting citizens to their records.

 

GOAL: Connect the National Archives with the work of the nation’s archives.

The Commission plays a key national leadership role in developing and promoting best practices, model programs, and partnerships among the nation’s vast network of archives and documentary editing projects.  The Commission will collaborate with other funders to create leadership initiatives designed to solve problems and meet challenges.

Objectives:

  • Build state partnerships around key needs, such as electronic records management
  • Support professional development opportunities for archivists and documentary editors
  • Fund research, development, and dissemination of best practices, tools, and methodologies

 

 

GOAL: Expand access to the nation’s historical records.

The Commission makes access happen through multiple ways: by preserving, arranging, describing, and publishing collections. Projects create online finding aids, digitized collections, and documentary editions in print and online versions. The Commission will collaborate with other funders to expand access to historical records.

 Objectives

  •  Complete current documentary editions (print and online) and identify new projects to make historical records collections more widely accessible
  • Broaden preservation of, and increased online access to, historical records collections
  • Promote open access to collections to encourage re-use and analysis
  • Support the development and use of standards for online publishing of historical records collections
  • Initiate collaborative projects for long-term sustainability of digital resources

 

GOAL: Engage the American people in preserving the American record.

Democracy requires an informed citizenry able to discover and use those records critical to understanding American democracy, history, and culture. Archivists and documentary editors are also encouraging people to acquire skills necessary to preserve and make accessible historical records. The Commission will collaborate with archives, repositories, and historical records publishing projects to engage more directly with people in their communities and online.

Objectives:

  • Encourage new methods for the public to share their knowledge about and interest in historical records, by volunteering, preserving their own records, and other means.
  • Promote educational/training efforts by archivists, editors, and records managers to foster public engagement
  • Support the development of open source tools to facilitate public participation in expanding access to historical records
  • Collaborate with state boards on local and statewide projects to encourage public participation and engagement in the work of archives

 

 

GOAL: Enhance the capacity of small and diverse organizations with historical records collections.

The Commission seeks to encourage small and diverse organizations with historical collections that represent the rich diversity of America’s culture and history and to assist small repositories with tools to raise their capacities.

Objectives:

  • Streamline the application and review processes
  • Encourage a wider pool of applicants
  • Increase emphasis on resource sustainability and preservation plans
  • Fund the creation of tools for smaller repositories and underserved communities
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4 Responses to Revised Strategic Plan Framework

  1. For the most part, I like these revisions. However, there is one aspect of the mission statement that strikes me as passive, if not weak. I suggest that instead of stating that the NHPRC “…provides opportunities for the American people to discover…,” we state that the NHPRC “…empowers the American people to discover…” or that it “…enables the American People to discover…” Those are my two cents, at least.

    Keep up the good work!

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  2. Michael E. Stevens says:

    I suggest that the NHPRC make correct a factual error about its own history in the preface to the draft mission statement. The current draft states, “From its inception in 1934 as part of the National Archives, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission has focused on the preservation and use of historical records collections in the United States.” As drafted, the statement is incorrect, or at least misleading.

    The National Historical Publications Commission was created in 1934 concurrently with the creation of the National Archives. An excellent history of the creation of the Commission’s records program can be found in Frank G. Burke, “The Beginnings of the NHPRC Records Program,” American Archivist, Vol. 63 (Spring Summer 2000) 18-42.

    The original legislation establishing the Commission in 1934 (U.S. Statutes at Large, 48:1112-24) states that the Commission’s duties were to “make plans, estimates, and recommendations for such historical works and collections of sources as seem appropriate for publication and/or recording at the public expense.” The phrase “and Records” was not added to the NHPC’s name until 1974 along with expanded responsibilities. In his essay, cited above, Burke notes that authority to make records grants could be found as early as a clause in 1964 legislation giving grant-making authority, although the Commission at that time chose not to interpret it that way.

    As an agency with historical responsibilities, the NHPRC should get its history correct. One possible revision could read “From its inception in 1934, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission has focused on the publication of historical documents and additionally, since 1974, the preservation and use of historical records collections in the United States.” There are other ways to restate this, but regardless of how this is corrected, it’s not true to state that the Commission’s focus on preservation and use of historical records collections dates back to 1934.

    Such a revision does not change the substance of the plan, but it does get the history right. I believe that’s it is important that the NHPRC, as a federal history agency, gets its own history correct.

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  4. This reply arrived via email from the Council of State Archivists

    Thank you for giving us the opportunity once again to review and comment on the most recent revision of the NHPRC Strategic Plan. The CoSA Advocacy Committee and Board of Directors reviewed the draft and respectfully submit the following comments:

    GOAL: Connect the National Archives with the work of the nation’s archives.
    · Consider revising the following objective to read: “Build state and national partnerships around key needs, such as electronic records management and digital preservation.”

    · Add an objective that speaks to broadening opportunities for access through collaboration with the state boards, such as “Work with state boards to connect the National Archives to citizens in each state.”

    GOAL: Expand access to the nation’s historical records.
    · While this goal seems to pertain primarily to documentary editing, the phrase “re-use and analysis” needs clarification for non-documentary editors.

    GOAL: Engage the American people in preserving the American record.
    · Consider adding an objective that speaks to the role state boards can/do play, such as “Broaden opportunities for access through collaboration with state boards.”

    GOAL: Enhance the capacity of small and diverse organizations with historical records collections.
    · Change “small and diverse” to “small or diverse” (“small and diverse” implies the two are mutually inclusive, which is not the case).

    · Add an objective to support SHRABs and their work with repositories in their states, such as “Support state boards in their work to strengthen repositories in their states.”

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