Why Is the National Historical Publications and Records Commission So Important for Archives—and for America?
As you discuss the importance of NHPRC with your congressional representatives and others, use the following to inform and educate your listener.
Objection: “NHPRC duplicates other programs, such as the National Endowment for the Humanities.”
NHPRC is the only federal program that concentrates on records programs and projects. It is the only federal program that links federal archives with those held by states, counties, municipalities, universities, and nongovernmental organizations. It is the only federal program designed specifically with archives in mind.
NHPRC-funded re-grant programs reach small grassroots organizations—all-volunteer local historical societies, churches, local public libraries, ethnic groups and local governments—that no other federal funding program reaches. These organizations are key to preserving the diversity of the record that makes up the American experience. Most of the institutions that receive NHPRC money through state archives re-grants are not eligible for NEH money. Eliminating NHPRC will hurt the small institutions in your congressional district.
The attached chart demonstrates that there are significant archival programs supported by NHPRC alone and very few areas of overlap with other federal programs.
Objection: “Times are tough and we all need to tighten our belts.”
The need for NHPRC is growing, not declining. NHPRC emphasizes collaborative projects and state/local matching funds that are extremely cost-effective. Grants made by NHPRC get a very good bang for the buck.
NHPRC puts money back into the local areas where the taxpayers live. Unlike larger programs that may fund one well-known institution for millions of dollars, NHPRC’s funds get down to the grassroots level, where even small amounts of money make a big difference.
NHPRC grants address problems—such as electronic records—that affect the nation, every state and territory, and every community. Then they develop scalable solutions that can be applied in towns, counties, and states across the nation. Without NHPRC, every community would be tackling these problems piecemeal.
The federal government spends hundreds of millions of dollars to support history programs in general, but only $3-10 million to support historical records programs. Eliminating NHPRC will eliminate even that small amount.
Objection: “I don’t see NHPRC having a big impact in my community.”
NHPRC funds many behind-the-scenes management, preservation, and access projects. When Ken Burns produced the Civil War video series, he used photographs and letters preserved with NHPRC money. The popular book by Joseph Ellis, His Excellency: George Washington, could not have been written without the documentary edition of George Washington’s papers—funded by NHPRC.
Your local historical society may have received a re-grant of NHPRC funds to care for a photograph collection or a treasured diary. Children in your schools are probably learning history through historical documents, and NHPRC-funded Teachers’ Guides help that happen.
If your community is home to a major research institution, you’ve probably seen the impact of millions of federal dollars, but nearly every community in America has seen the impact of a small grant from NHPRC.