Humanities Collections and Reference Resources

Funding Agency:
National Endowment for the Humanities

The Humanities Collections and Reference Resources (HCRR) program supports projects that provide an essential underpinning for scholarship, education, and public programming in the humanities. Thousands of libraries, archives, museums, and historical organizations across the country maintain important collections of books and manuscripts, photographs, sound recordings and moving images, archaeological and ethnographic artifacts, art and material culture, and digital objects. Funding from this program strengthens efforts to extend the life of such materials and make their intellectual content widely accessible, often through the use of digital technology. Awards are also made to create various reference resources that facilitate use of cultural materials, from works that provide basic information quickly to tools that synthesize and codify knowledge of a subject for in-depth investigation.

The HCRR program includes two funding categories: Implementation and Foundations.


Deadline: Jul. 16, 2019

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

Applications may be submitted for projects that address one or more of the following activities:

  • arranging and describing archival and manuscript collections;
  • cataloging collections of printed works, photographs, recorded sound, moving images, art, and material culture;
  • providing conservation treatment for collections, leading to enhanced access;
  • digitizing collections;
  • preserving and improving access to born-digital sources, including the updating of existing digital resources;
  • creating oral history interview collections about war and military service in conjunction with NEH’s Common Good initiative;
  • developing databases, virtual collections, other digital resources, or project-specific tools, to codify information on a subject or to provide integrated access to selected humanities materials;
  • creating encyclopedias;
  • preparing linguistic resources, such as historical and etymological dictionaries, corpora, and reference grammars (separate funding is available for endangered language projects in partnership with the National Science Foundation); and
  • producing resources for spatial analysis and representation of humanities data, such as atlases and geographic information systems (GIS). 

Because ensuring the longevity of humanities sources is critical to enabling their ongoing use, applicants may request support for implementing preservation measures, such as reformatting (including microfilming), rehousing, or item-level stabilization procedures, in the context of projects that also create or enhance access to humanities collections. 

Applicants seeking support for projects that focus on purchasing storage furniture and rehousing collections; improving environmental conditions (including the installation of climate control systems); and installing security, lighting, and fire-prevention systems should consult the Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections program. 

Major studies of cultural heritage repositories have cited sound recordings and moving images as formats that are seriously endangered. This grant program encourages applications that address the need to preserve and access such sources. Applicants may request funds to assess or establish intellectual and physical control of such materials as well as to digitize them. 

Applications may address the holdings or activities of a single institution or may involve collaboration. In all cases, projects should be designed to facilitate sharing, exchange, and interoperability of humanities information and products. 

Eligibility Requirements

U.S. nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, state and local governmental agencies, and federally recognized Native American tribal governments are eligible to apply. Eligible organizations include institutions of higher education. Individuals and foreign and for-profit entities are not eligible to apply. Eligible applicant institutions may submit multiple applications for separate and distinct projects under this announcement. 



Amount Description

The maximum award for Implementation projects is $350,000, for a period of performance of up to three years. The maximum award for Foundations projects is $50,000 for a period of performance of up to two years. Applicants for Foundations projects involving multiinstitutional collaborations between smaller and larger institutions may, however, request an additional $10,000 (see the “Partnership/mentorship opportunity” subheading above). In such cases, the maximum award would be $60,000 for a period of performance of up to two years. Successful applicants will receive an award in outright funds, matching funds, or a combination of the two, depending on the applicant’s preference and the availability of funds.

Funding Type





Arts & Humanities
Community Outreach and Engagement

External Deadline

July 16, 2019