Funding Sources for Assessing, Preserving, and Organizing Your Archives

Compiled by the Dance Heritage Coalition, September 2011

To qualify for many preservation grants, the organization holding the materials is usually expected to have a policy or schedule that permits some regular public access to the materials. If an organization is requesting money to prepare the materials for transfer to a repository or library, this situation is usually fundable if there is documentation from the chosen repository.

I.  Assessments: these grants provide experts who evaluate the conservation, preservation, and archival needs and recommend next steps. Formal assessment reports are often prerequisites to securing funding for preservation and archival work.

Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) Some services of this Philadelphia-based organization are targeted for Philadelphia-area collections; others are open to all.
    Preservation Needs Assessment. A general evaluation of preservation needs for paper-based collections. Usually 1 day. Funded by NEH.
    Vulnerability Assessment. Assistance in creating an emergency and proactive plan to mitigate risks. Funded by NEH. Designed for small- and mid-size institutions. Usually 1 day. Cost $350.
    Deadline: usually sometime in first week in December

Heritage Preservation
    Conservation Assessment Program CAP provides a general conservation assessment of museum collection, environmental conditions, and site. Conservation priorities are identified by professionals who spend two days on-site and three days writing a report. The report can help a museum develop strategies for improved collections care and provide a tool for long-range planning and fund-raising. Usually 2 days. Funded by IMLS.
    Deadline: Dec 1

National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC)
    Access to Historical Records Projects See below under III. Access. Archival assessments are included under the eligible activities.

Northeast Document Conservation Center
    Archives: Basic Project Grants (including preservation assessments as part of eligible work). NEDCC grants support a range of services, supplies, and assessments. Awards up to $200,000 for 2 years, with up to 50% of the work supported through NEDCC. NOTE: these grants were discontinued for 2011. However, there is much reliable information freely available on the organization's website.

back to top

II.  Preservation and Conservation: these grants fund practices and work defined by an assessment

Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA)
    Conservation Project Support. Funding supports conservation treatment of collections; surveys (general conservation surveys, detailed conservation surveys, and environmental surveys); training of staff, volunteers, and students; and environmental improvements. IMLS funds.
    Deadline: October 3, 2011

Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
    American Heritage Preservation Grants Grants support preservation of specific items, including works of art, artifacts and historical documents that are in need of conservation. Applicants will build on completed conservation assessments of their collections to ensure that the grants are used in accordance with best practices in the field, and underscore the importance of assessment planning.
    Up to $3,000 (no matching required)
    Deadline: Sept. 15

    Conservation Project Support Grant Currently, this program is directed toward Museum conservation, rather than Library/Archives.
    $5,000 to $150,000     Deadline: Oct. 3

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
    Preservation Assistance Grant for Smaller Institutions Funds to support a consultant suited to the needs of the institution's collection, who will advise and work directly to preserve the collection, as well as the purchase of archival supplies, environment monitoring equipment, and education and training.
    Up to $6,000 (no matching required)
    Deadline: early May
    Other Programs in the Preservation and Access Division may be suited to larger collections of documentable national significance.

Northeast Document Conservation Center These grants, offered in the past, are not currently available.
    Archives: Basic Project Grants (including preservation assessments as part of eligible work). This grant supports a range of services, supplies, and assessments. Awards up to $200,000 for 2 years, with up to 50% of the work supported through NEDCC.
    Archives: Detailed Processing Projects Grants. For high research demand or severe conservation challenges.

Save America's Treasures (administered by National Parks, reviewed by NEH, NEA, or IMLS)
    NOTE: This grant program was not funded for the 2012 budget, which means that 2011 has no application materials available. Grants funded preservation and/or conservation work on nationally significant cultural artifacts. 1:1 match, with minimum federal request of $25,000.
    Prerequisite: preservation or conservation assessment
    Deadline: mid-May

back to top

III.  Access to Collections (such as cataloguing, indexing, digitizing)

Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)
    Cataloguing Hidden Special Collections and Archives Support for describing materials in special collections. Funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
    Deadline: draft proposals due in early May

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)
    Access to Excellence Funds for many aspects of preserving, cataloguing, and making a dance archive accessible.
    Deadlines: mid-March and mid-August.

National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC)
    Access to Historical Records Projects Support for basic and detailed processing, finding aids conversation, archival needs assessments and other kinds of projects.
    Deadline: Oct. 6

    Digitizing Historical Records Digitization of significant records to archival quality digital files as well as access-size files.
    Deadline: early June

back to top

IV.  Other Options

State Humanities Councils
Many state humanities councils have grants or programs which help to fund archival work or which support programs that use archival resources. Sometimes it takes imagination to devise programs that serve your archival needs while also conforming to the project/program funding specifications. These vary from state to state. Sometimes, local history organizations or other cultural institutions offer assistance as well.

Community Trusts and Private Foundations
These organizations often want to help preserve historical or cultural legacies. Types vary by region.

back to top