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NHPRC Grants Relating to Digital Preservation

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The following is a guest post by Barrie Howard, Program Management Coordinator, NDIIPP.

This post is the third in a short series about U.S. government grant programs that have funded digital preservation since the beginning of the new millennium. This series focuses on federal agencies other than The Library of Congress, such as the National Endowment for the Humanities and Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Today’s post is about the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) and some exemplary work supported by that agency.

nhprc logNHPRC— an independent entity affiliated with the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration—has contributed $5 million to the field of digital preservation since 2000 through its Electronic Records Projects program. Over 20 projects have received funding to develop best practices, infrastructure and tools. NHPRC shares a strength with NDIIPP in that it has funded the work of organizations in all sectors, i.e., government, nonprofit and private. NHPRC has been at the vanguard of supporting digital preservation projects led by state government departments, such as the 2001 Electronic Records Training and Awareness Program awarded to the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.

That same year, NHPRC began supporting the first phase of the State University of New York’s US-InterPARES Project, which coordinated the U.S. part of an international initiative. The project outcomes established standards for maintaining the authenticity of electronic records selected for long-term preservation and use past their active lifecycle. In addition to the international reach of this project, the collaboration included organizations from across sectors. NHPRC went on to fund two more phases of the domestic InterPARES work.

Another state university project worth mentioning is the Michigan State University H-Net Archive, which focused on developing processes and tools for preserving and providing continued access to archives of electronic mailing lists, popularly known as listservs. The H-Net archive includes topical discussion lists in the arts, humanities, and social sciences important to supporting teaching and learning at Michigan State.

The MetaArchive Cooperative, which has also been supported by NDIIPP, was funded by NHPRC in 2008 to develop a cost model for a range of preservation services built on top of LOCKSS technology. MetaArchive is a distributed digital preservation network created for cultural memory organizations to manage their own digital content instead of farming out the work to a third-party vendor. Founded in 2002, the organization has been successful in providing stable, trustworthy services to its membership, and has continued to grow participation exponentially, even in tough economic times.

NHPRC continues to fund valuable research in the library and archive communities, and is currently accepting grant applications for Electronic Records Projects.

How can your organization benefit from support from this funding opportunity?


  1. The NHPRC has been supporting electronic records projects for many decades. The Commission gave its first grant for electronic records work in 1979. From 1979 to June of 2001 the Commission invested more than $5.6 million in electronic records projects.

    Over the years it has funded a number of seminal projects. For example, it funded the Persistent Archives Testbed project, and the State of Michigan Records Management Application project. Perhaps one of the Commission’s most significant investments was the grant that funded the 1991 Working Meeting on Research Issues in Electronic Records. This meeting resulted in the publication of “Research Issues in Electronic Records.” This document served as the de facto research agenda for archivists attempting to address electronic records issues in the U.S. and elsewhere for over a decade.

    You can read about the support of the NHPRC for electronic records projects prior to 2000 in Thirty Years of Electronic Records. Edited by Bruce I. Ambacher. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2003. I wrote the chapter on the work of the NHPRC entitled, “Early Intervention: The NHPRC’s Electronic Records Program.”

    Mark Conrad
    Former (1998-2003) Director for Technology Initiatives, NHPRC

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