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New Guidelines for Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Program Now Available

May 16, 2017 | By Joel Wurl

NEH’s Division of Preservation and Access welcomes applications for its Humanities Collections and Reference Resources (HCRR) grant program, with a deadline of July 20, 2017.  These grants support projects to preserve and create intellectual access to such collections as books, journals, manuscript and archival materials, maps, still and moving images, sound recordings, art, and objects of material culture.  Awards also support the creation of reference works, online resources, and research tools of major importance to the humanities. 

HCRR offers two kinds of awards:

  1. Implementation Grants -- $350,000 maximum, for up to three years. Eligible activities include: 

  • arranging and describing archival and manuscript collections;

  • cataloging collections of printed works, photographs, recorded sound, moving images, art, and material culture;

  • providing conservation treatment for collections, leading to enhanced access;

  • digitizing collections;

  • preserving and improving access to born-digital sources, including the updating of existing digital resources;

  • creating oral history interview collections about war and military service in conjunction with NEH’s Common Good initiative (see below);

  • developing databases, virtual collections, other digital resources, or project-specific tools, to codify information on a subject or to provide integrated access to selected humanities materials;

  • creating encyclopedias;

  • preparing linguistic resources, such as historical and etymological dictionaries, corpora, and reference grammars (separate funding is available for endangered language projects in partnership with the National Science Foundation); and

  • producing resources for spatial analysis and representation of humanities data, such as atlases and geographic information systems (GIS).

  1. HCRR Foundations Grants -- $50,000 maximum, for up to two years. To help in the formative stages of initiatives to preserve and create access to humanities collections or to produce reference resources, Foundations grants will support planning, assessment, and pilot activities that incorporate expertise from a mix of professional domains.  Drawing upon the cooperation of humanities scholars and technical specialists, these projects might encompass efforts to prepare for establishing intellectual control of collections, to develop plans and priorities for digitizing collections, to solidify collaborative frameworks and strategic plans for complex digital repositories and resources, or to produce preliminary versions of online collections or resources.

New for 2017-18:  Partnership/Mentorship Opportunity

In order to enhance access to humanities collections held by smaller institutions, HCRR Foundations grants offer an additional $10,000 (beyond the $50,000 maximum) to support inter-institutional planning and pilot activities. Applicants may be either smaller institutions proposing to work with a larger repository or larger institutions proposing to collaborate with one or more smaller partners.  This opportunity is intended to help foster collaborative relationships that could prove to be continually beneficial, beyond the duration of the project.  Partnerships or mentorships might be especially well suited for community-based cultural heritage initiatives but are not limited in geographic or topical scope.

Several of the most recent awards from the HCRR program are described on NEH’s Funded Projects database.  Also, sample narratives, “frequently asked questions,” budget guidance, and other resources are available on the HCRR program landing page.

Prospective applicants seeking further information are encouraged to contact the Division at 202-606-8570 or preservation@neh.gov.  Program staff will read draft proposals submitted six weeks before the deadline.  Details on the full slate of funding opportunities in Preservation and Access, along with news and features, can be found on the Division’s website.

Support for the projects featured (in the images above) was awarded through the Humanities Collections and Reference Resources program from NEH’s Division of Preservation and Access: PW-50163-08 to the Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, NY; PW-234707-16 to the Arhoolie Foundation, El Cerrito, CA; PW-234690-16 to the California State University, Dominguez Hills, Carson, CA; PW-234775-16 to the Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; PW-234783-16 to the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York, NY; PW-234837-16 to Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA; PW-50526-10 to ONE Institute/International Gay and Lesbian Archives, West Hollywood, CA; PA-50163-03 to the University of Maine, Orono, ME; PW-228169-15 to the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Atlanta, GA; and PW-50866-11 to the University of Missouri Libraries, Kansas City, MO.