Guidelines for Providing Public Testimony on NHPRC Funding to the House Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government

The House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, will hold a hearing on the National Archives and Records Administration and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission on Wednesday, March 14, 2007.  The Subcommittee is accepting written public testimony in anticipation of that hearing.

Following are some guidelines for providing testimony.

Testimony should be submitted on behalf of an organization.  It is important that the testimony is submitted by the most senior member of the organization.  For example, for a university archives, it is best to have the archives director – or ideally the university president or dean to whom the archives reports – submit the testimony. For state archives, consider submission by the State Archivist or the head of a larger department to which the archives reports.

Although letters from individuals (ie, not on behalf of an organization) are valuable, these should be directed to the individual members of the Subcommittee rather than submitted as public testimony.

How to submit testimony.  Written testimony should be concise and focused on the issue.  It should not exceed the equivalent of four single-spaced, typed pages (two pages would be ideal), and should be in 12-point type.  Testimony can be submitted in writing via email to: testimony must be submitted prior to the start of the hearing on Wednesday, March 14.

What to include in your testimony: 

  1. At the top of the page indicate your name, title, and institutional affiliation.
  2. In the first paragraph state the agency, program, and amount of money involved in the request [National Archives, National Historical Publications and Records Commission; $10 million in competitive grants, per the authorizing legislation, plus $2 million for program administration]
  3. Explain the mission/purpose of your organization, its geographical coverage if relevant, and membership or service numbers. 
  4. Explain why NHPRC is of value to your organization and your constituents.  Stress positive benefits to users, society, government, democracy.  Note what will be lost if NHPRC is not funded.
  5. Provide arguments about why NHPRC provides unique services and benefits that no other agency offers. 
  6. Thank the Subcommittee for its attention to this issue.

Examples of points to make in public testimony about the value of NHPRC:

NHPRC has an outstanding record of success in providing grants each year to institutions across the country to preserve historical records, publish historical papers, and make historical materials more accessible.  Its grants help state and local organizations:

  1. Edit and publish historical documents for use by scholars and teachers;
  2. Develop efficient and effective archival programs in public and private institutions nationwide;
  3. Strengthen professional practices;
  4. Promote the preservation and use of historical records;
  5. Encourage regional and national coordination in addressing major archival issues;
  6. Educate children and adults about the history of our democracy; and
  7. Address challenges introduced by electronic record keeping

Rapid technological change has radically altered the nature of record keeping over the last two decades.  NHPRC leads the nation in supporting research and implementing scalable solutions to the challenges of electronic records.  This work ensures that records created today will be usable with tomorrow's technology. 

Although the National Archives concentrates on ready access to essential evidence found in federal records, the NHPRC helps archivists, documentary editors, and historians make non-federal records available.  A complete documentary record is essential to telling our national story and as a foundation for the daily functioning of our democracy and our economy (e.g., records of corporate organizations and real estate transactions).

NHPRC reaches a wide audience:  grants preserve and make accessible records and documentary editions that sustain the work of biographers, classroom teachers, documentary filmmakers, journalists, lawyers, land surveyors, historians, genealogists, community historians, and museum exhibit designers, to name a few. 

NHPRC grants are a good investment.  The average non-federal contribution is almost 50%.  Federal funds reassure potential backers that the projects are of genuine significance and have capable staffing.  NHPRC has a solid record of holding its grantees to the highest performance standards and demanding real results.

Loss of NHPRC funds will have a domino effect, causing withdrawal or reduction in funding from such other sources as state legislatures, private foundations, and corporations. 

Citing examples of grants given to your own state:

Remember that NHPRC provides a list of grants given to every state on its website at