NHPRC Awards Founding Fathers Papers Pilot Program Grant

On November 18, 2008, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) met in Washington, DC. The biggest news to emerge from the meeting was the announcement of a $250,000 grant award to the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities on behalf of Documents Compass for a new pilot project to transcribe and encode for online and print publication documents on behalf of documentary editing projects from the Founding Era of the nation.

This new effort will prepare verified and XML-encoded versions of unpublished documents and develop a workflow that can help the Founders editorial projects in their publishing process. The pilot project is the result of the Report to Congress by the Archivist of the United States on how to provide online access to the papers of the Founding Era. The state of the Founding Fathers projects had been the subject of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this year.

When the meeting convened, Chairman, Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein, expressed optimism that the NHPRC would receive strong support from the new administration and Congress and that the annual efforts to eliminate the NHPRC will cease.

The National Archives and Records Administration’s Director of Congressional Affairs John Hamilton stated that he is hopeful the NHPRC would receive adequate funding during the unfinished fiscal year 2009 budget process. The NHPRC would receive $10 million under the House proposal or $8.5 million from the Senate. These numbers will have to be reconciled in conference. Hamilton stated a high priority in the coming year for NARA is funding reauthorization for the NHPRC by Congress.

The NHPRC recommended $2.15 million for 23 projects in 13 states and the District of Columbia for preserving and publishing historical records.

Grant recommendations include $1.266 million to the projects annotating and publishing the papers of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and documentary histories of the First Federal Congress and the Ratification of the U.S. Constitution.

Five subventions were awarded to university presses to defray the cost of publishing new volumes of the papers of Washington, Madison, John Jay, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. The University of Wisconsin will receive funding to continue its work at the Institute for Editing Historical Documents, and the Papers of Andrew Jackson project at the University of Tennessee will be able to hire a new Editing Fellow.

Strategies and Tools grants went to the Massachusetts Historical Society to enable the Adams papers project to digitize its paper-based control files and to the University of Michigan to develop standardized survey tools for government archives in collaboration with the University of North Carolina and the University of Toronto.

Six projects were recommended for Digitization grants. The University of Florida will digitize material from six collections relating to the exploration, development and conservation of the Everglades from1878-1929. The Railroad Commission of Texas is digitizing about 120,000 pages, including oversized maps and plans, of documents dealing with the Texas Oil Boom of the 1930s. A microfilm collection of the papers of Henry A. Wallace, FDR’s vice president and the Progressive Party candidate for President in 1948, will be digitized at the University of Iowa. A digital collection of the records of the American Social Health Association, held by the University of Minnesota, will give researchers access to documents from World I and World War II when the Association was active in advising and treating military personnel on health issues. The American Institute of Physics will digitize the papers of Samuel A.Goudsmit (1921-1979), the renowned physicist who headed the team investigating Germany’s progress in developing the atomic bomb during World War II. Duke University is digitizing 24,000 photographs and slides that portray outdoor advertising and linking these images to an existing online database.

The Commission also welcomed Dr. Lucy Barber as the new Deputy Executive Director. Dr. Barber was formerly the Director of Technology Initiatives at the NHPRC.

The next meeting at which the Commission will consider grant
applications is scheduled for May 2009.

A complete list of all grants is below.

Grants-November 2008

  • Pilot Project-Founding Era ($250,000)
    Virginia Foundation for the Humanities
    Charlottesville, VA

Publishing Historical Records (Founding Era)
These long-term projects document major historical figures or groups from the Founding Era of the nation.

  • The Documentary History of the First Federal Congress ($210,508)
    George Washington University
  • The Adams Papers ($162,550)
    Massachusetts Historical Society
  • The Papers of James Madison ($146,154)
    University of Virginia
  • The Papers of Thomas Jefferson ($166,987)
    Princeton University
  • The Papers of Benjamin Franklin ($198,900)
    Yale University
  • The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution ($208,000)
    University of Wisconsin
  • The Papers of George Washington ($173,090)
    University of Virginia

Publication Subventions
Grants to publishers to help defray the printing costs of individual volumes of documentary editions.

  • University of Virginia Press ($10,000)
    Charlottesville, VA
    The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, Vol. 19
  • University of Virginia Press ($10,000)
    Charlottesville, VA
    The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, Vol. 15
  • University of Virginia Press ($10,000)
    Charlottesville, VA
    The Papers of James Madison, Retirement Series, Vol. 1
  • University of Virginia Press ($10,000)
    Charlottesville, VA
    Selected Papers of John Jay, Vol. 1
  • Rutgers, State University of New Jersey ($10,000)
    Rutgers, NJ
    The Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, Vol. 5

Editing Fellowships
Grants to support a fellowship at a historical documentary editing

  • Papers of Andrew Jackson ($55,000)
    University of Tennessee

Professional Development
Grants to support projects for the professional development of archivists and/or documentary editors.

  • Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents ($41,791)
    University of Wisconsin
    Madison, WI

Strategies and Tools
Grants to for new strategies or tools for archives and historical publishing.

  • Massachusetts Historical Society ($150,000)
    Boston, MA
    The Adams Papers Control File Digitization Project
  • Regents of the University of Michigan ($149,96)
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Archival Metrics and User Evaluation for Government Archives.

Digitizing Historical Records
Grants to organizations digitizing entire collections of historical importance.

  • Duke University ($60,000)
    Durham, NC
    ROAD 2.0: Digitizing Outdoor Advertising
  • University of Florida ($72,650)
    Gainesville, FL
    America’s Swam: The Historical Everglades Project
  • Railroad Commission of Texas ($146,861)
    Austin, TX
    Digitizing Historical Oil & Gas Hearing Files
  • University of Iowa ($32,700)
    Iowa City, IA
    Henry A. Wallace Digital Collection Project
  • University of Minnesota ($66,605)
    Minneapolis, MN
    Digitizing the Historical Records of the American Social Health Association
  • American Institute of Physics ($39,063)
    College Park, MD
    Digitizing the Samuel A. Goudsmit Papers