Humanities Open Book Program

Office of Digital Humanities

Grant Snapshot

Maximum award amount

$250,000

Open to

Organizations

Expected output

Book

Period of performance

One to three years

Application available

Application due

Project start date

Mellon Foundation and NEH logo
ALERT from SAM.gov: The first time you log in to SAM.gov after June 29, 2018, you’ll be asked to create a login.gov user account (if you don’t already have one). Going forward, you will use your login.gov username and password every time you log in to SAM.gov. Your current SAM.gov username and password will no longer work.  If you are renewing or registering a new entity in SAM.gov, you must mail an original, signed notarized letter stating that you are the authorized Entity Administrator for the entity associated with the DUNS number. Read the FAQs to learn more about these process changes. Currently SAM.gov recommends that registrations and renewals submit their notarized letters at least 45 days in advance of expiration dates or anticipated needs. Please note that you will be unable to access Grants.gov Workspace or fillable application forms until your SAM.gov registration is active.

The Humanities Open Book Program is designed to make outstanding out-of-print humanities books available to a wide audience. By taking advantage of low-cost “ebook” technology, the program will allow teachers, students, scholars, and the public to read humanities books that have long been out of print. The Humanities Open Book Program is jointly sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (Mellon).

Traditionally, printed books have been the primary medium for expressing, communicating, and debating humanistic ideas. However, the vast majority of humanities books sell a small number of copies and then quickly go out of print. Most scholarly books printed since 1923 are not in the public domain and are not easily available to the general public. As a result, there is a huge, mostly untapped resource of remarkable scholarship going back decades that is largely unused by today’s scholars, teachers, students, and members of the public, many of whom turn first to the Internet when looking for information. Modern ebook technology can make these books far more accessible than they are today.

NEH and Mellon are soliciting proposals from academic presses, scholarly societies, museums, and other institutions that publish books in the humanities to participate in the Humanities Open Book Program. Applicants will provide a list of previously published humanities books along with brief descriptions of the books and their intellectual significance. Depending on the length and topics of the books, the number to be digitized may vary. However, NEH and Mellon anticipate that applicants may propose to digitize a total that ranges from less than fifty to more than one hundred books. Awards will be given to secure the rights and digitize these books and make them available as Creative Commons-licensed “ebooks” that can be read by the public at no charge on computers, mobile devices, and ebook readers. The final ebook files must be in EPUB version 3.1 (or later) format, to ensure that the text is fully searchable and reflowable and that fonts are resizable on any e-reading device.

Proposed books can be on any topic relevant to any humanities discipline. However, in recognition of two important upcoming anniversaries, NEH and Mellon encourage applicants to consider proposing books related to the following:

  • the 250th anniversary of the United States, coming in 2026. Applicants may wish to include important books relevant to the founding of the United States.
  • the hundredth anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, coming in 2020. Applicants may wish to include important books relevant to the Nineteenth Amendment and women’s suffrage.

Applicants are encouraged to form partnerships, if appropriate, when applying. For example, two or more presses could collaborate to bring together books published by their respective institutions on similar themes and topics.

What's New for 2018

The maximum award for Humanities Open Book Program grants is now $250,000.

Proposed books can be on any topic relevant to any humanities discipline. However, in recognition of two important upcoming anniversaries, NEH and Mellon encourage applicants to consider digitizing books related to the following:

a. The 250th anniversary of the United States, coming in 2020. Applicants may wish to include important books relevant to the founding of the United States.

b. The hundredth anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, coming in 2020. Applicants may wish to include important books relevant to the Nineteenth Amendment and women's suffrage.

 

Review your application package

As soon as you know you're ready to apply for this grant, make sure you register for a SAM number/DUNS number, and for a grants.gov account as this is vital to the grants process. If you already have registered for these items, make sure they are up to date.

Begin by reading the full grant guidelines and studying the application. The files are linked below. You want to ensure you understand all the expectations and restrictions for projects delivered under this grant and are prepared to write the most effective application. 

Download Application Materials

Humanities Open Book Program Guidelines (PDF)

Humanities Open Book Program Guidelines (DOC)

Humanities Open Book Program Grants.gov application package

Budget Resources

Budget Instructions, September 2018 (PDF)

Sample Budget, September 2018 (PDF)

Budget Form, September 2018 (MS Excel)

Program Resources

Humanities Open Book Program Frequently Asked Questions, 2018 (PDF)

List of recent grants in this program

DUNS Number Requirement

Sample Application Narratives

Cornell University Press Collection of Books

Temple University Press Collection of Books in Labor Studies

    Complete your application package
    Submit your application package on Grants.gov
    Verify you have received email messages from Grants.gov

    Program Statistics

    This grant has been awarded for
    3
    Years
    NEH received an average of
    14
    Applications
    per year
    This grant has a
    64%
    Funding Ratio
    NEH made an average of
    9
    Awards
    per year

    Examples of Projects Funded by this Grant Program