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Historical & Archival Records Care Grants

The Pennsylvania State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB) is pleased to announce a new cycle of Historical & Archival Records Care Grants, funded by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC).  Awards will improve the preservation of historically valuable original records.

Published/printed material, works-of-art, textiles, artifacts and museum objects are not eligible. The grants are administered on a competitive basis, and funding for the awards is for two years.  Grants will be awarded based on review of the application by a sub-committee(s) of the SHRAB.


Who May Apply   

  • Colleges and universities
  • Historical societies
  • Libraries (public and private)
  • Museums with archives and records management responsibilities.
  • Historical records repositories whose primary mission is the preservation of historical records to make them available to the public
  • Museums and historic sites that are owned and operated by independent nonprofit organizations. (Museums and historic sites that are owned by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission are eligible if they are operated by an independent, nonprofit organization).
  • Other historical organizations that are open to the public with consistent hours
  • County governments
  • Municipalities
  • School districts
  • Organizations with the mission to help care for collections not necessarily thier own.
  • Statewide elected official and government associations (. e.g. Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS), Pennsylvania Prothonotaries' and Clerks of Courts' Association, Pennsylvania School Boards Association, etc.)
  • Individual subunits (e.g. Recorder of Deeds Office within a county government or a special collections division within a university library or tax-exempt organizations (e.g. a college or university) may apply for grants if they function as a discrete unit within the parent organization. A subunit that is part of a larger organization will be deemed eligible if:
      • the unit has administrative autonomy for its operations;
      • the unit has a fully segregated and itemized operating budget within that of the parent organization; and
      • the unit is able to separately and distinctly fulfill all eligibility and application requirements as defined in the guidelines.


Who May Not Apply

  • Organizations and others that are not eligible to apply include:
  • Museums and historic sites operated by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.  Associate groups of PHMC sites may apply as a partner in a collaborative grant as long as the lead applicant is not affiliated with PHMC;
  • museums and historic sites operated by state or Federal Government agencies, except through an associate or management group;
  • state government entities;
  • Federal Government entities; and
  • individuals.


Eligibility Requirements

To apply for a Historical & Archival Collection Care Grant, an eligible organization must meet the following requirements:

  • must be located in Pennsylvania;
  • must have tax-exempt status (501(c)(3)) with the Internal Revenue Service or be an entity of local government;
  • must be incorporated and in existence for two years prior to the submission of a grant application; and
  • is encouraged to be registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State (if applicable):  Bureau of Charitable Organizations, as required.   Information may be obtained by writing Bureau of Charitable Organizations, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of State, P.O.  Box 8723, Harrisburg, PA  17105 or by calling 1-800-732-0999.


Level of Funding

There are two levels of funding for the Historical & Archival Records Care Grants:

  • Grants in amounts up to and including $5,000 require no matching funds.
  • Grants in amounts of $5,001 and up to and including $15,000 require 50/50 matching funds in cash or in kind. Counties are encouraged to match using their Local Government Records Improvement Fund.

Eligible organizations (or subunits) may apply for only one Historical & Archival Records Care Grant in any given grant cycle year. More than one qualified subunit within a multipurpose organization, however, may apply for funding during the same grant cycle.

General Conditions

There are a number of general conditions for a Historical & Archival Records Care Grant.

  • Grant awards shall not exceed $15,000. For all awards above $5,001, a 50/50 match is required.  In­ kind contributions may be used to satisfy the 50/50 matching requirement; however, cash matches of new dollars are strongly encouraged and will be given greater weight in the evaluation process. The only exceptions are for county governments and cities of the First Class, which must match on a 50/50 hard cash-matching basis.
  • An organization must have as one of its primary purposes the preservation of historical records in order to make them available to the public.
  • Proposals must adhere to professional archival standards for the care, preparation, and storage of materials.
  • All projects must relate directly to some aspect of Pennsylvania history.
  • Work cannot begin until the successful applicant has received a fully executed Grant Agreement.
  • Digitization projects must follow Digitization Guidelines (PDF).


Categories of Support

The following categories of support are broadly defined and include examples of projects that may be considered for funding. The examples do not represent a complete list of eligible projects.  Applicants are encouraged to discuss their project and ideas with the Grant Manager, Joshua Stahlman , (717) 772-3257.

Collection Care Projects

Funding may be requested for surveying, inventorying, preserving, arranging and describing historical records relevant to Pennsylvania. Funding may also be requested for reformatting or the purchase of supplies and equipment. Examples of projects include:

  • Projects addressing statewide needs that build partnerships and networks to support collection care and accessibility.
  • Projects that scan historical records to reduce handling and thereby preserve the original materials and to make them available publicly online. Preference will be given to records that will be made available through the PA POWER Library (see Digitization Guidelines. (PDF)).
  • Projects to ensure the preservation and use of valuable archival/historical manuscripts including cartographic, pictorial, audio-visual and machine-readable records that are not published.
  • Purchase of preservation supplies such as acid-free cartons, folders, and boxes.
  • Reformatting of deteriorating historical records.
  • Inventory and survey projects.
  • Arrangement and description of archival records or historical manuscripts.
  • Programs for the education and training of archivists, record managers and manuscript curators, to care for collections.
  • Historical records preservation assessments that may address storage and exhibition of materials, environmental control, building security, collections conditions and conservation treatment reports.
  • Institutional needs assessments that focus on professional standards and requirements relating to the administration of historical records with specific recommendations to correct deficiencies in the care of collections.
  • Emergency/disaster mitigation and action projects.

Local Government Records Care Project

Funding may be requested for surveying, inventorying, preserving, arranging, describing and making available historical local government records. Funding may also be requested for reformatting or the purchase of supplies and equipment. Examples of projects include: 

  • Projects that address statewide challenges and build partnerships.
  • County projects to demonstrate the successful implementation of PDF/A storage for permanent records in offices that adhere to County Records Committee policies and guidelines.
  • Projects to ensure the preservation and use of historically valuable local government records including cartographic, pictorial, audio-visual and electronic records.
  • Inventory and survey projects designed to provide planning reports in support of the establishment of local government archives, records programs and facilities.
  • Arrangement and description of historically valuable local government records.
  • Programs for the education and training of local government archivists and records managers to care for collection.
  • Reformatting of deteriorating permanent local government records.
  • Purchase of archives and records center supplies such as acid-free cartons and folders, or boxes needed for microfilm security copies of permanent records.
  • Historical Records Preservation Assessments that may address storage and exhibition of materials, environmental control, building security, records conditions and conservation treatment reports, Institutional Needs Assessments that focus on professional standards and requirements relating to the administration of historical records with specific recommendations to correct deficiencies in the care of records.
  • Emergency Preparedness that identifies and protects permanent essential records.

Ineligible Activities

Archives and Records Management Grants may not be used to fund the following:

  • Endowments, prizes, or awards;
  • General operating support;
  • Capital improvement projects;
  • Lobbying-related expenses or expenses for entertainment;
  • Existing part-time or full-time staff positions (this includes hiring part-time staff during their nonworking hours);
  • Projects that have been initiated prior to the date of the award;
  • Projects that serve a religious purpose or promote religious dogma;
  • Any product that is not publicly available, except where prohibited by law;
  • Projects involving published or non-original materials, including library books and newspapers; and
  • Records or office management projects that do not relate to normal archival functions or goals, such as projects for the creation of a new filing, storage, or retrieval system for active non-permanent office files.

Additional Requirements

  • For digitization projects only, applicants must demonstrate within their project descriptions that they have or will meet certain criteria before receiving consideration for funding.
  • All digitization projects are strongly encouraged to place resulting content in either PA POWER Library or Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). Grant money may fund up to two years of PA Power Library dues. For more information, please view PHMC's Digitization Guidelines (PDF). 
  • Applicants are encouraged to contact Grant Manager, Joshua Stahlman(717) 772-3257 to discuss their proposed projects. 
  • For all grant projects, members of PHMC staff may perform site visits throughout the grant period to monitor progress and adherence to goals and methods described in the application.
  • All applications should describe how projects will be sustained after grant funding ends. 
  • All applications should clearly describe the desired outcomes of the grant and explain how the outcomes will be measured, in quantitative terms whenever possible.

Application Process

PHMC is pleased to announce all PHMC grant program applications are transitioning to DCED’s Electronic Single Application for Assistance system. Your organization may need to register as a First Time User.

Once you register and login to the new system, the easiest way to begin a new PHMC Cultural and Historical Support grant application:

  • Create a Project Name such as "My PHMC Archival Grant."  
  • Select "YES" for "help selecting your program"
  • Click "Create a new application"
  • Select "PHMC" under the Agencies heading and click SEARCH
  • Click "Apply" next to the Historical and Archival Records Care Grants

Applicants are not required to mail a hard copy of the application and supporting documents.

For additional assistance with the Electronic Single Application for Assistance system, please contact DCED’s Customer Service at: 1 (866) 466-3972,

Evaluation Criteria

Grant applications will be evaluated using the following criteria:

  • The clarity with which the proposed project is defined including its goals, projected work products, and measurable outcomes
  • A detailed description of the records that will be preserved
  • Photographs of the collection and its housing
  • The importance of the records to be dealt with in terms of research value
  • Strong letters of recommendation from stakeholders outside the institution.
  • The relationship of the project to the purpose and goals of the organization.
  • The ability of the applicant organization to preserve properly and to make available the records for researchers
  • The clarity and detail with which a chronology of steps required to complete the project is outlined.
  • How the project is to be promoted to the public
  • The qualifications of key personnel and consultants or the criteria for hiring personnel.
  • The value of the project to its intended audience.
  • The likelihood the project will reach its intended audience.
  • How the project will be sustainable after grant funding has ended.  
  • The soundness and detail of the proposed budget and its adequacy to accomplish the project.
  • The availability of a cash match, (if required), and
  • The quality of the application in terms of adherence to format, completeness, and accuracy.
  • The ability to create and sustain a collaborative partnership.

    All applications must be submitted through egrants and must include:
  • a page listing the collaborative partnerships, contact information, and who will be taking the administrative lead;
  • a budget with the amount requested and where applicable, the matching funds or in-kind contributions;
  • a work statement;
  • a page listing the desired outcomes of the project and how success will be evaluated; and
  • a page discussing how the project will show sustainability;


Grant Period and Implementation Timetable

(Timetable subject to change based on funding availability)

Application Website Open: July 1, 2020

Grant Webinars:  July 22;  July 29

Application Deadline: October 1, 2020

December 2020
Peer Review Panels

March 2021
PHMC Approves Panel Recommendations 

March 2021
Award/Rejection Letters and Grant Agreements Mailed to Applicants

July 2021
Project Start Date/Fully Executed Grant Agreement 

January 1, 2022
Six month report due

July 1, 2022
Six month report due

January 1, 2023
Six month report due

July 1, 2023
Project End Date/Final Reports Due

Program Contact Information

State Archives staff is available to assist in answering your questions.  Contact Grant Manager  Joshua Stahlman, (717) 772-3257, with program-related queries.