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Preservation Assistance Grants Help Small Institutions Across the Country!

February 20, 2014 | By Mary Downs

Are you a small institution with a significant humanities collection?  Then you may want to know more about the NEH’s Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions.  Take a look at the map of projects across the country funded through this program!

Source: NEH Division of Preservation & Access

Since 2000, NEH has made over 1,700 awards for Preservation Assistance Grants (commonly known as PAGs) to libraries, museums, historical societies, archival repositories, cultural organizations, town and county records offices, and colleges and universities that want to improve their ability to preserve and care for their humanities collections.  In all 50 states, and in Puerto Rico, PAG awards have enabled many small and mid-sized cultural repositories to hire consultants to do a preservation assessment; purchase preservation supplies, including shelving and archival folders; and acquire environmental monitoring equipment.  PAGs also support cultural heritage institutions develop disaster or environmental monitoring plans, or train their staffs in the care and storage of humanities collections or the best practices for cataloging and arranging and describing collections. 

The interactive map pictured here shows the distribution of Preservation Assistance Grant awards made between 2000 and 2013.  If you are interested in learning about awards made in a particular state, you can zoom in by double-clicking, and if you hover over a red dot (which appears darker if there is a greater density of awards in one area), the name of the awardee will appear.  Click on the name and you’ll get the project details.  Or zoom out, and think about how many humanities collections are in better condition today as a result of the awards made through this grant program!  To zoom in or out at will, use the plus and minus symbols on the upper right hand corner of the page.

Here are a few examples of projects that you will find:

  • After the experience of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Gulf Coast institutions were made painfully aware of the need to develop disaster plans.  The Sunflower County Library, located in Indianola, Mississippi, offered training in disaster preparedness for staff from five cultural heritage institutions in the region.  The library was also able to purchase emergency response supplies to be shared by the five repositories, which together hold a large and diverse collection of historic newspapers, photographs, sound recordings, agricultural ledgers, and other sources documenting the history of the Mississippi Delta.
  • With its Preservation Assistance Grant, the Washington County Historical Society and Museum in Portland, Oregon, purchased storage furniture to rehouse its collection of agricultural implements, furniture, logging tools, textiles, and library and archival materials related to the history and culture of the region.
  • The Greene County Historical Society in Catskill, New York, used its PAG for a preservation assessment of environmental conditions in the Thomas Cole Historic House, the primary residence and workplace of 19th-century artist Thomas Cole, in which are housed the artist’s materials, sketches, paintings, decorative objects, and household furnishings.
  • Humanities collections may also be in digital format.  At Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah, a training workshop assisted 16 cultural repositories in the state, among them academic libraries and museums, state and local government, historic sites, and religious archives, in managing and preserving their digital collections.  The digital collections included ancient texts, Western newspapers, genealogical materials, European political pamphlets, and artwork.

Application Information

Preservation Assistance Grants provide up to $6,000 of funding for the following activities:  preservation assessments, purchase of preservation supplies and equipment, development of environmental monitoring and disaster plans, and education and training.  We encourage small and mid-sized cultural heritage institutions with significant humanities collections to consider applying, and especially those that have never before received an NEH grant.  This year, we have a special encouragement for presidentially-designated institutions (historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and tribal colleges and universities) and Native American tribes with significant humanities collections.  If you have an idea for a project that you think might fit the criteria of the Preservation Assistance Grant, or if you simply want to find out more about the program, please contact us at: or by phone at: 202-606-8570. Guidelines for the program are available here.

The next deadline is May 1, 2014, so now is the time to start planning if you want to submit an application this year.