News | May 25, 2023

National Archives Awards $6.5 Million in Grants for Historical Records Projects

National Archives

Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery aims to digitize and publish ads placed in newspapers across the United States by formerly enslaved people searching for lost or missing family members and loved ones after emancipation.

A total of 47 grants totaling $6,510,701 have been awarded to projects in 27 states and the District of Columbia to improve public access to historical records by the National Archives. The grants program is carried out through the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) established in 1934 and which awards grants for preserving, publishing, and providing access to historical documents. 

Grants went to 17 edition projects to publish the papers of key American figures such as Frederick Douglass and Jane Addams, as well as cross-cutting projects such as the Chinese American WWII Veterans Online Resource and Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery which is digitizing records of “Information Wanted” advertisements placed in newspapers across the United States by formerly enslaved people searching for family members and loved ones after emancipation.

Five projects will enhance public engagement with historical records:

  • “Teaching Care: Building a History Curricular Library of Chicago’s Black Nurses,” an initiative of the Midwest Nursing History Research Center at the University of Illinois, Chicago
  • Stillman College’s collaborative research program on African American female land owners in Alabama’s Black Belt
  • Lewis & Clark College’s Vietnamese Portland Archive
  • A new embedded Exhibit Tool for the University of Northern Iowa , a digital archival platform
  • The Chicago Covenants Project, which draws on volunteers to locate, digitize, and make available racially restrictive covenants in the analog land records from Cook County, through a project sponsored by Virginia Tech University

Two projects went to support professional development: the Archives Leadership Institute for training mid-career archivists and eLaboratories for online training for practitioners in historical and scholarly digital editions. Each project is located at the University of Virginia.

An additional 21 archival projects will preserve film and video, and manuscript collections documenting Black American history, labor records, theatrical collection, early legal records in Arizona, colonial diaries from Westchester County, feminist history collections at West Virginia University, women’s history at the University of Utah, a history of the 1939 sit-in at the Arlington (VA) Public Library, and the records of Quaker-operated Indian Boarding Schools.