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Documentary Heritage Program (DHP) Grants

Grants to New York Nonprofits and IHEs to Document
the History and Culture of Underrepresented Groups

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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New York State Education Department (NYSED) - New York State Archives

LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

01/15/19 5:00 PM Electronic Submission and Postmarked by Date


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Grants of up to $25,000 to New York nonprofit organizations, archives, historical societies, libraries, and IHEs for the documentation of historical and cultural resources related to traditionally underrepresented groups. Nonprofit applicants must prequalify in the online grants system in advance of the deadline. Applicants of certain project types are required to contact program staff prior to applying.

Documentary Heritage Program (DHP) grants are designed to build a more comprehensive and equitable documentation of New York State’s history and culture by supporting projects that identify, survey, collect, arrange, describe, and make available records that relate to groups and topics traditionally under-represented in the State’s historical record.

Grant Project Types:

I. Documentation Projects

Community by community, topic by topic, DHP Documentation projects build a comprehensive record that more fully and fairly represents all New Yorkers and their history. These projects identify and collect unique, original source materials about the people, groups, events, and/or on the political, economic, and social conditions in New York, to pave the way toward making these materials accessible to all. Historically, most source materials have been paper-based. Today, born-digital records are quickly becoming the norm. Applications relating to identifying and collecting historically valuable born- digital materials as well as paper-based materials are encouraged.

A DHP Documentation project typically consists of three phases (each phase requiring one year) — planning, surveying, and collecting—and usually takes at least two years to complete. The outline below describes the three phases and the work each typically entails. The phases often correspond to the years of a project—phase one in year one, etc.—but your work plan and timing should reflect the particular requirements of your project. Usually, projects begin with the planning phase, and divide the work over at least two years (and therefore require at least two grant applications).

Phase 1: Planning
- Define the chosen topic: its scope, limits, components, and historical context
- Identify and assign project personnel and/or any consultants
- Establish an Advisory Committee to provide context, guidance, and oversight of the project
- Publicize your documentation effort
- Develop a contact list that identifies individuals and organizations that are or have been involved in the topic being documented and are likely to have created records
- Develop and test a survey instrument to gather significant details about the groups of records held by individuals or organizations
- Begin planning for the eventual placement of the valuable historical records surveyed in this project in an appropriate New York repository with the capacity to preserve and provide access to the records
- Create a work plan for Phase 2

Phase 2: Surveying
- Conduct the survey
- Assess the survey results
- Continue to work closely with your Advisory Committee
- Determine which groups of records surveyed have long-term historical value
- Prepare archival descriptions of the records that have long-term historical value; descriptions should meet archival standards
- Foster relationships between likely donors of records and an appropriate New York repository to which the valuable historical records surveyed in this phase will eventually be transferred
- Publicize your documentation effort

Phase 3: Collecting
- Working with each donor and the selected New York repository(ies), conduct an appraisal to determine which records to save
- Continue to work closely with your Advisory Committee
- Negotiate the terms for a deed of gift agreement and prepare for the transfer of records; this will involve gaining the approval of the individual donors and the management and/or boards of the donor organizations and/or the repository(ies)
- Transfer records to the selected New York repository(ies)
- Post descriptions online
- Publicize the availability of the records

The documentation process, starting with identifying potential donors of records and ending with transfer to an appropriate repository, can take a long time. It is recommended that negotiations for the placement of the records in an appropriate New York repository begin in Phase One. For some projects the collecting phase may be straightforward and brief. For projects that involve born-digital materials with specific infrastructure requirements, multiple donors (both individuals and organizations), and multiple repositories, the collecting phase may take a year or longer.

I. Arrangement & Description Projects

Arrangement and description are the processes used to gain physical and intellectual control over materials held in historical records repositories. Arrangement is the process of analyzing and then organizing materials with respect to their provenance and original order, to protect their context and to achieve physical control over the materials. Description is the process of recording details about the formal elements of a record or collection or records, such as creator, titles, dates, extent, and contents to facilitate the collection’s identification, management, and understanding. The objective of archival description is the creation of access tools (typically finding aids) to assist users in discovering desired records.

The goal of Arrangement & Description projects is to make publicly available the unique, original records of traditionally underrepresented groups and topics of New York State. Historically most source materials have been paper-based. Today, born-digital records are quickly becoming the norm. Applications to arrange and describe historically valuable born-digital materials as well as paper-based materials are encouraged.

All access tools (such as MARC records and finding aids) created as a result of an Arrangement & Description project must conform to archival standards. Contact the DHP office for sample MARC records and finding aid templates.

Applications are also invited for circuit rider projects. Instead of applying individually, several organizations would collaborate to submit a single Arrangement & Description application to DHP. If you are considering a circuit rider project, contact the DHP office for further details.

Topical Priorities:

The New York State Archives has identified and prioritized four specific topical areas for DHP funding in order to ensure that the DHP addresses the New York State Historical Records Advisory Board’s mandate to identify, survey, collect, and make available historical records that relate to under-documented groups or subjects. These topics are listed in Priority Level 1 below.

Applications are scored, in part, based on the priority level of the topic they choose and on how effectively the project and/or records support their chosen topical priority. There is a possibility of a higher score if a project effectively addresses a topic in Priority Level 1 than Priority Level 2.

Priority Level 1:

A. Economic Change

New York has experienced vast and sometimes turbulent changes in the economic life of the state, such as the decline of heavy industry, innovations in agricultural technology and practice, and the explosion of tourism. Economic change, whether in individual towns and cities, regions, or the state as a whole, is one of the defining themes of New York’s history.

Projects in this topical area should focus on changes in New York State’s economic base; in de-industrialization; in the production, processing, promotion, and distribution of agricultural commodities; in medical and health sciences, public health, and the provision of medical and mental health services; or on efforts at economic revitalization including the development of new industries and businesses in the State.

Projects may involve businesses that have been dissolved or absorbed by other businesses, as well as businesses that are currently operating, provided these records are, or are intended to be, accessioned and made available in a publicly accessible New York repository. Examples of records that document economic change in New York State include but are not limited to: ledgers, business records, research data, existing oral history recordings, and photographs.

B. Military History

New York State’s military forces and military history have had a major impact on New York since the colonial era, in times of both war and peace. Military records shed light on the lives of soldiers, the struggles of the forces, as well as war's impact on the home front, and they offer researchers a unique view of our past.

Projects in this topical area should focus on issues related to the military and military service including New York’s soldiers, veterans and veterans’ organizations; organizations formed to support military action and soldiers; civilian participation in wartime activities; professionally supported war efforts such as war industry workers, medical volunteers, and defense contractors; military sites; peacetime military enterprise; and organizations that protest the military and military actions.

Examples of records which document New York’s military history include but are not limited to: personal papers, manuscripts, diaries, scrapbooks, existing oral history recordings, email and text messages, written correspondence, websites and social media, photographs, regimental histories, civilian defense records, and local history, business, union, and organization records.

C. New York Communities

New York’s history has been shaped substantially by the emergence and growth of a great diversity of groups united in varying degrees by shared culture, beliefs, values, experience, geography or place of origin; ethnic, religious or racial identity or background; and social or economic status. Most groups include concentrations of individuals in neighborhoods or communities as well as individuals spread in small clusters throughout the state. Most will also share and nurture particular ways of life or other cultural expressions that help define the group and shape its contributions to New York’s history.

Projects should focus primarily on records that document the social, cultural, political, and economic lives of these communities and their engagement with the broader history and culture of the state. Examples of records that document New York’s population groups include but are not limited to: organization records, planning documents, business records, photographs, existing oral histories, personal papers, websites, written correspondence, email and text messages, and diaries.

D. Social Reform and Activism

Efforts to achieve or oppose social, economic, cultural, environmental, religious, and political change have been central to New York’s history. Many movements that began in New York have spread across the nation: women’s equality, child labor laws, industrial safety, environmental protection, gay rights, and Occupy Wall Street.

Projects to document social reform and activism should focus primarily on the records of individuals, organizations, and activities while addressing issues such as civil rights and discrimination, environmental affairs, war and peace, abortion/reproductive rights, public safety, welfare reform, animal rights, or trade and globalization. Examples of records, both paper-based and/or born-digital, that document social reform and activism in New York include but are not limited to: organizational records, planning documents, manuscripts, photographs, existing oral histories, written correspondence, email and text messages, diaries, websites, blogs, and personal papers.

Priority Level 2:

Other Under-Documented Topics in New York State History:
Projects in Priority Level 2 address topics which are of significance to the history of New York and which focus on the people, groups, events, or changing conditions that are underrepresented in New York’s historical record.

A Priority Level 2 topic should meet one or more of the following criteria; it should:
- Represent a contribution by New York that is distinctive, seminal, or precedent-setting
- Have had a major impact or influence, whether local, regional, or statewide
- Reflect the beginning of a trend or an important milestone in the history of New York
- Be illustrative of common experience statewide
- Have been significant over a considerable period of time

Research may be needed to determine whether a topic is under-documented. This research would establish what documentation already exists related to the topic, and where relevant records are located. If the applicant finds that the topic is significant and under-represented in the historical record, they should describe the topic and their research in their Project narrative.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 168960

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

Grants will be made in amounts up to $25,000.

Term of Contract:

For Documentation Projects, multi-year projects will require annual, competitive applications for funding.

Grant projects may start July 1, 2019 contingent on final administrative approval. All work on grant projects must be completed by June 30, 2020.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligible applicants include not-for-profit organizations, archives, libraries, historical societies, and similar institutions within New York State and consortia or partnerships of such agencies. Historical service agencies, colleges, universities, professional associations, and other not-for-profit institutions or systems that provide public access to historical records are also eligible. Consortia must meet the requirements outlined in the NYSED Consortium Policy for State and Federal Discretionary Grant Programs.

To be eligible to apply for a DHP Grant, applicants must have not-for-profit status under Part 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code unless they are a SUNY/CUNY institution as described below. A copy of the document proving certification of not-for-profit status as described above must be included with your application. Note: a Tax Exemption Certificate is not proof of not-for-profit status.

An institution of State University of New York (SUNY) or City University of New York (CUNY) may apply for DHP Grants for projects to arrange and describe external records in their possession, and for documentation projects.

An institution of SUNY may apply for DHP Grants for projects to arrange and describe internal records generated by the institution before July 1, 1948, or before the subsequent date on which the institution became a component of SUNY.

An institution of CUNY may apply for DHP Grants for projects to arrange and describe internal records generated by the institution before July 1, 1979, or before the subsequent date on which the institution became a component of CUNY.

Religious institutions are eligible to apply for DHP Grants if they can certify not-for-profit status under Part 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code, and if their records are made available to the public.

Applicants/participants may form a partnership or consortium to apply for one grant. Those intending to do so must contact the DHP office for guidance.

- The applicant agency must be eligible for DHP grants according to criteria listed above
- All consortium members must be eligible grant participants, according to criteria listed above
- The partnership/consortium must designate one of the applicants/participants to serve as the applicant and fiscal agent for the grant
- For Arrangement & Description projects involving more than one institution, a statement of participation is required from each institution
- In the event a grant is awarded to a partnership/consortium, the grant will be prepared in the name of the applicant agency/fiscal agent, not the partnership/consortium, since the latter is not a legal entity

The applicant agency/fiscal agent must meet the following requirements:
- Must be an eligible grant recipient as defined by statute
- Must receive and administer the grant funds and submit the required reports
- Must require consortium partners to sign an agreement with the fiscal agent that specifically outlines all services each partner agrees to provide
- Must be an active member of the partnership/consortium, except where SUNY or CUNY Research Foundations are the fiscal agent
- Cannot act as a flow-through for grant funds to pass to other recipients
- Is prohibited from sub-granting funds to other recipients
- Is permitted to contract for services with other consortium partners or consultants to provide services that the fiscal agent cannot provide itself
- Must be responsible for the performance of any services provided by the partners, consultants, or other organizations, and must coordinate the contributions of all participants

Not Eligible:

Government agencies are not eligible for DHP Grants, except for SUNY/CUNY institutions. This restriction applies to institutions operated by local, state, and/or federal government agencies, and local government archives.

Ineligible Project Types:

Types of projects that are not eligible for funding through the DHP are listed below.

1. Focus Outside of New York State
Projects involving records that do not illustrate a New York State focus are ineligible for funding within the DHP law. For instance, the records of an organization based in New York but whose primary focus is national or international would be determined to lack a New York focus.

2. Books and other Published Materials
The DHP does not support the documentation or arrangement and description of books and other published materials unless the applicant can demonstrate that these materials are unique and not readily accessible elsewhere in New York State.

3. Digitization
The DHP does not normally support projects to create digital surrogates of paper records, photographic or motion picture film, or analog audio and video recordings. However, projects that involve the documentation or arrangement and description of born-digital records are eligible for funding. Please contact DHP to discuss your potential project.

4. Government Records
The DHP does not support projects to document or arrange and describe federal, state, or local government records except for selected records of SUNY and CUNY schools as described in the Eligibility Criteria above.

5. Item-Level Description
The DHP does not normally support projects that involve the item-level description of historical records. Applicants proposing this approach must contact the DHP office to discuss their project, and be prepared to fully justify their decision in their project narrative.

6. Oral Histories and Audio/Video Recording
The DHP does not normally support projects to create oral histories or other audio or video recordings, or to transcribe oral history recordings. However, projects that include the documentation or arrangement and description of such materials are eligible for consideration. Please contact DHP to discuss your potential project.

7. Newspapers
Newspapers are not considered unique historical records. Thus projects that include only modest quantities of newspapers or clipping files as part of a broader collection of historical records may be supported.

8. Preservation
The DHP does not fund preservation (activities to conserve, restore, or repair original records) or
reproduction of records for preservation purposes.

Note: The New York State Program for the Conservation and Preservation of Library Research Materials provides support for libraries, archives, historical societies, and similar agencies within the State to encourage the proper care and accessibility of research materials in the State; to promote the use and development of guidelines and standards for conservation/preservation work; to support the growth of local and cooperative preservation programs; and for other eligible preservation activities.

9. Applicants Who Have Failed to Submit the Required Reports for Previous DHP Grant Awards
Applicants who have failed to submit required DHP reports for grants received over the past five years (i.e. 2013/2014 - 2018/2019) are not eligible to apply for funds.

Pre-Application Information:

- December 22, 2018: Due date for submitting the Notice of Intent (NOI) to apply for a DHP Grant for the 2019-2020 grant year. NOI is recommended, not required.
- December 29, 2018: Deadline for questions about the grant application. Prior to this date, FAQs will be posted online on a rolling basis.
- January 15, 2019: Grant applications must be submitted electronically on or by this date. Also, the paper signature forms required for all applications must be mailed to DHP Office and postmarked by this date.
- July 1, 2019: Grant projects may start contingent on final administrative approval.
- February, 2020: Midterm report due
- June 30, 2020: All work on grant projects must be completed.
- July 31, 2020: Final narrative and final expenditure reports due; forms will be issued to project manager at start of grant; completed forms must be submitted by this date.

New York State has implemented a new statewide prequalification requirement for not-for-profits applying for grants. In order to be eligible to apply, all grant applicants (including DHP grant applicants) are required to prequalify using the New York State Grants Gateway:

The prequalification registration process requests information about an organization’s capacity, legal compliance, and integrity. This process may take up to a few weeks to complete. Begin the prequalification registration process immediately if you are considering applying for a 2019-2020 DHP Grant.

Online submissions are due by 5:00 PM on January 15, 2019. The Application Cover Form, and Payee Information Sheet that you complete online will still need to be printed, signed in blue ink, mailed to the DHP office, postmarked by January 15, 2019.

Cost Sharing of at least 20% of the Total Project Cost is required for Documentation projects. Cost Sharing of at least 50% of the Total Project Cost is required for Arrangement & Description projects. All cost sharing contributions must directly support grant-funded project activities and outcomes.

DHP supports two types of projects: Documentation, and Arrangement & Description. Most applicants apply for one type, but those who intend to request funding for a project that combines these two project types must contact DHP staff while planning the application.

Grant award notifications will be emailed to all applicants in Spring 2019. These notifications will be issued once the review of all applications is completed and all necessary approvals are in place. If the applicant receives modified or no funding, a summary of reviewers’ decision notes will be included with the notification letter.

2019-2020 DHP Grant Guidelines and Resources:


Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply Online:

For questions about the online application process or problems with the online application portal, contact:

For advice on developing a grant project and submitting an application:
John Diefenderfer
(518) 474-6926.

Documentary Heritage Program
New York State Archives
9C71 Cultural Education Center
222 Madison Avenue
Albany, NY 12230

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: New York City;   New York