NEH Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Website
The Humanities Collections and Reference Resources (HCRR) program supports projects that provide an essential underpinning for scholarship, education, and public programming in the humanities. Thousands of libraries, archives, museums, and historical organizations across the country maintain important collections of books and manuscripts, photographs, sound recordings and moving images, archaeological and ethnographic artifacts, art and material culture, and digital objects. Funding from this program strengthens efforts to extend the life of such materials and make their intellectual content widely accessible, often through the use of digital technology. Awards are also made to create various reference resources that facilitate use of cultural materials, from works that provide basic information quickly to tools that synthesize and codify knowledge of a subject for in-depth investigation. HCRR offers two kinds of awards: 1) for implementation and 2) for planning, assessment, and pilot efforts (HCRR Foundations grants).
Applications may be submitted for projects that address one or more of the following activities:
- arranging and describing archival and manuscript collections;
- cataloging collections of printed works, photographs, recorded sound, moving images, art, and material culture;
- providing conservation treatment (including deacidification) for collections, leading to enhanced access;
- digitizing collections;
- preserving and improving access to born-digital sources;
- developing databases, virtual collections, or other electronic resources to codify information on a subject or to provide integrated access to selected humanities materials;
- creating encyclopedias;
- preparing linguistic tools, 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);
- developing tools for spatial analysis and representation of humanities data, such as atlases and geographic information systems (GIS); and
- designing digital tools to facilitate use of humanities resources.
Because ensuring the longevity of humanities sources is critical to enabling their ongoing use, applicants may request support for implementing preservation measures, such as reformatting (including microfilming), rehousing, or item-level stabilization procedures, in the context of projects that also create or enhance access to humanities collections.
U.S. nonprofit organizations are eligible, as are state and local governmental agencies and federally recognized Indian tribal governments. Individuals are not eligible to apply.
NEH generally does not award grants to other federal entities or to applicants whose projects are so closely intertwined with a federal entity that the project takes on characteristics of the federal entity’s own authorized activities. This does not preclude applicants from using grant funds from, or sites and materials controlled by, other federal entities in their projects.
Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grants may not be used for
- acquisition of collections;
- restoration of historic structures, the preservation of the built environment, or the stabilization of archaeological sites;
- preservation, organization, reformatting, or enhancement of materials that are the responsibility of an agency of the federal government (see also Section III “Eligibility” below);
- preservation, organization, or description of materials that are not regularly accessible for research, education, or public programming;
- retrospective conversion of a library’s general card catalog or the basic inventory of a museum’s collections;
- digitization of United States newspapers (applicants interested in such projects should consult the National Digital Newspaper Program);
- maintenance or upgrading of institutional computer systems or technological infrastructure;
- creation of oral histories that do not supplement proposed activities;
- creation of tools and reference works designed exclusively for classroom instruction;
- creation of scholarly editions (NEH supports scholarly editions through its Scholarly Editions and Translations program);
- creation of selective compilations of primary sources in print or digital form, when such compilations are developed primarily to present interpretive research (NEH supports such compilations through its Collaborative Research program);
- support of projects to document endangered languages (applicants interested in such projects should consult Documenting Endangered Languages);
- GIS projects for civic planning or resource management; or
- institutional records management.
The maximum award is $350,000, for up to three years. Successful applicants will be awarded a grant in outright funds, federal matching funds, or a combination of the two, depending on the applicant’s preference and the availability of NEH funds.
Although cost sharing is not required, NEH is rarely able to support the full costs of projects approved for funding. In most cases, NEH Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grants cover no more than 50 to 67 percent of project costs. A 50 percent level is most likely to pertain in the case of projects that deal exclusively with the applicant’s own holdings.