Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions

Division of Preservation and Access

Grant Snapshot

Maximum award amount

$10,000 ($15,000 for projects related to the 250th anniversary of American independence)

Open to


Expected output

Preservation Assessment Reports;
Preservation and Collections Care Workshops;
Preservation Supplies/Equipment

Period of performance

Eighteen months

Application available

Application due

Expected notification date

Project start date

Preservation Assistance Grants help small and mid-sized institutions—such as libraries, museums, historical societies, archival repositories, cultural organizations, town and county records offices, and colleges and universities—improve their ability to preserve and care for their significant humanities collections. These may include special collections of books and journals, archives and manuscripts, prints and photographs, moving images, sound recordings, architectural and cartographic records, decorative and fine art objects, textiles, archaeological and ethnographic artifacts, furniture, historical objects, and digital materials.

 Applicants must draw on the knowledge of consultants whose preservation skills and experience are related to the types of collections and the nature of the activities on which their projects focus. Within the conservation field, for example, conservators usually specialize in the care of specific types of collections, such as objects, paper, or paintings. Applicants should therefore choose a conservator whose specialty is appropriate for the nature of their collections. Similarly, when assessing the preservation needs of library, museum, or archival holdings, applicants should seek a consultant specifically knowledgeable about the preservation of collections in these types of institutions.

 The program encourages applications from the following sorts of institutions with significant humanities collections:

  • small and mid-sized institutions that have never received an NEH grant;
  • community colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Tribal Colleges and Universities; and
  • Native American tribes and Native Alaskan and Native Hawaiian organizations.

 The program also encourages applications for the following activities:

  • consultants working as mentors with advanced students or recent graduates from preservation programs to provide emerging preservation professionals with practical experience. Advanced students and recent graduates may assist in conducting preservation assessments, addressing specific preservation issues, and/or training staff at the applicant institution.
  • the development of disaster plans and collaborative work with local institutions for training in disaster preparedness and emergency response to address the risk to cultural heritage materials from natural disasters, theft, and other types of damage.
  • disaster planning, response, recovery, and mitigation; preservation assessments; conservation treatments; temporary relocation and storage of collections; purchase of supplies; education and training related to disaster planning and response; and reformatting of collections as a preservation methodology for institutions in federally declared disaster areas.

 What’s New for 2019

Americans will celebrate the 250th anniversary of our nation in 2026. The anniversary of American independence provides an important opportunity to look back at the nation’s founding and the past two and a half centuries of American history. What began as a conflict between the thirteen colonies and Great Britain culminated in the creation of what would become the world’s oldest constitutional democracy. As we approach the 250th anniversary, NEH is offering a special encouragement to applicants in the PAG program to consider the impact—both immediate and long term—of the momentous events of 1776.

 We especially invite applications that explore the role of the Declaration of Independence and other foundational documents in the making of U.S. history. In addition, we would welcome applications that explore the experiences of states and communities beyond the original colonies in joining the nation, since they have their own stories of becoming part of the United States. We also invite applications examining the stories and contributions of under-represented communities in our nation’s history.

 In support of these themes, applications to the PAG program for up to $15,000 may be submitted for consultations and planning with one or more humanities professionals (for example, American historians, archivists, librarians, preservation specialists, and/or curators) that would position smaller institutions to undertake, at a later stage, any of the following activities:

  • cataloging and/or arranging and describing collections of publications, documents, artifacts, photographs, audiovisual materials, and other original sources pertaining to American history;
  • digitizing American history collections;
  • providing conservation treatment for original items or groups of items relating to American history; and
  • partnering with cultural organizations, educational institutions, or other community groups for the purpose of making primary sources in American history broadly available to the public.
    The program also supports consultants who would offer education and training in staff professional development geared to capacity-building and leadership that would help the institution improve its care of American history collections.

Applications to support consultations and planning for these activities may also request funds to pursue regular PAG activities (assessments, consultations, purchase of supplies/equipment, and education and training), up to a total of $15,000 for all activities.


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 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

Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions Program Guidelines (PDF)

Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions Program Guidelines (DOC)

Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions application package

Budget Resources

Preservation Assistance Grants Sample Budget, 2019 (PDF)

Preservation Assistance Grants Budget Form, 2019 (MS Excel)

Program Resources

Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions Frequently Asked Questions, 2019 (PDF)

Preservation Assistance Grants, list of recently funded projects

DUNS Number Requirement

Sample Application Narratives

Antiochian Village, assessment of museum and library collections

Chester County Historical Society, digital preservation plan

Chicago Film Archives, purchase of film preservation furniture and supplies

City of Ontario, library local history room preservation assessment

Mills College Art Museum, workshop on sustaining digital collections

National Japanese American Historical Society, general preservation assessment for collections

Shady Side Rural Heritage Society, improving environmental conditions for historical collections

Sunflower County Library, Mississippi Delta collaborative emergency preparedness project

Museum of Printing History, improving the storage environment of collections

    Complete your application package

    Be sure to follow the instructions outlined in the guidelines and in the instructions. 

    Submit your application package on

    You will receive a confirmation from when you've successfully submitted your application. 

    Verify you have received email messages from

    After you submit your application, will send you up to five e-mail messages confirming receipt of your application. These messages represent different stages in the application acceptance process. You should verify that you have received all confirmation messages. Please note that email filters may send these messages to your spam or junk folder.

    Program Statistics

    In the last five competitions this program received an average of
    per year
    This grant has a
    Funding Ratio
    NEH made an average of
    per year

    Examples of Projects Funded by this Grant Program