Division of Archives and Records Service
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Frequently Asked Questions of the Utah State Historical Records Advisory Board (USHRAB)

Mahala Ruddell
February 16, 2022

The Utah State Historical Records Advisory Board (USHRAB) has grant funding each year for projects designed to promote access to and preservation of archival records. Applications are typically accepted March-May, with funding decisions made in late May/early June. 

While the Board is hard at work on creating our own website, which will eventually include examples of successful applications, final project reports, links to grant projects available online, and more, we encourage you to browse the articles on our blog to learn about past projects and what you might be able to do with a grant award.

We have compiled an updated (as of spring 2022) FAQ. Please take a look and let us know if you have further questions about who the USHRAB is, what we do, and how we can help you! 

Project proposals:

Can we use USHRAB funds to …?

Hire an intern/student worker/project archivist?

Yes. You may hire someone to work on your project using USHRAB funding, but it is important to ensure that the work they’ll be doing falls within the scope of your proposed project. Make sure to consider, and outline in your application: 

  • The wage you’ll be paying;
  • What kind of expertise you’ll be searching for in your prospective applicants and where you’ll be recruiting them from;
  • What standards they’ll be following as they work on the project;
  • Project timelines and accounting for the hiring process.

Digitize or re-house artwork?

No. Unfortunately artwork, even art on paper, is not considered archival material and therefore does not qualify for grant funds. That said, art museums and organizations may still apply for funding to process archival records in their care, including artists’ sketches, notebooks, and unfinished works as well as correspondence, business papers, diaries, and other records that are considered archival.

Create an exhibit?

Yes, provided that the exhibit is of archival materials and not museum objects, archeological artifacts, or art, and provided that the archival material exhibited is properly preserved. The USHRAB requires that your institution have physical and intellectual control over the records you are exhibiting. Generally speaking, exhibits are used as an outreach or public access tool and should not necessarily be the main goal of the project proposal.

Buy books for our research library?

No. Unfortunately funds cannot be used for books, magazines, or other library materials.

Process records that are private or that we restrict access to?

No. The goal of the NHPRC and the USHRAB is to promote access to Utah’s historical records. You may not use grant funding to process or otherwise care for collections that are not publicly accessible through online portals, exhibit, regular opening hours, or a reasonable appointment schedule. 

Purchase records for our permanent collection?

No. Funds are meant to care for and provide access to historical records in your custody. Please negotiate custody and officially acquire the records you plan on working with prior to applying for funding to care for them.

More guidelines about what USHRAB funds can and cannot be used for have been outlined here. Generally speaking, the USHRAB will fund projects proposed by non-profit organizations and Utah’s state and local government entities. Projects should focus on the care and preservation of and access to records of historical and enduring value in the custody of the institution applying for the grant. Please see the guidelines for more information.

Can we apply for funding for a project that will be completed in phases?

The Board does accept proposals for phased projects but there are some things to consider. Each funding round, the Board receives requests for more money than it has to give out, meaning each round is competitive. When evaluating applications, the Board does not give more weight to proposals from previously funded organizations or for additional phases of previously funded projects. Because of this, funding for multiple phases is never guaranteed. When planning for your project, keep this in mind and treat each phase as an isolated project in its own right, even if part of a larger, ongoing project. Your proposal should indicate a beginning, middle, and end, and should identify quantifiable goals and outcomes for that particular phase. The security and care of your collections should not be dependent solely upon continued, phased funding, and you should build in safeguards for delays or pauses that might come as a result of not getting funding. Lastly, as you compose your application, do not assume that the person reading your application has any prior knowledge of your project. Board terms expire on a three-year cycle and are staggered, so in any given year, there is likely to be 1-3 new Board members reading your application. You will need to provide all relevant background information, demonstrate your previous successes, and explain in detail your plan for the proposed phase.

Can we digitize our records in-house?

You can put together a proposal that includes in-house digitization. However, please be aware that the Board prioritizes projects that partner with a Mountain West Digital Library digitization hub, primarily because the partnership guarantees that best practices are adhered to at the highest degree. If you do not plan on partnering, make sure that your application indicates that you fully understand the work a digitization project requires. Describe, in detail:

  • The standards and best practices you will be following;
  • The equipment you plan on using;
  • Any and all existing expertise in your staff and/or volunteers directly related to digitization work; 
  • The current physical condition of the original records;
  • Your plan for preserving digital master files;
  • Your plan to create and preserve metadata;
  • Your plans for preserving and maintaining the original records after digitization;
  • Your plan for providing access to the collection;
  • Your timeline and scope for the project; 

And any other details that will help the Board understand your plan and be confident in your ability to carry it out.

The application says we must have custody of the records we plan to work with using grant funding. What does this mean?

The Board is seeking assurance that the original records you will be working with in the course of your project will be in your care long after the project has wrapped up. If you plan on using grant funding to preserve or provide access to historical records that are currently in the custody of another person or institution, please negotiate a permanent custody arrangement with that entity before you start your work. Negotiating custody for the duration of the project (and then returning the original records) is not sufficient. 

The Selection Process:

How are successful projects selected?

Board members review and evaluate applications against a rubric. The rubric provides a framework with which the Board can analyze the information you’ve provided and determine numerical point values for each section of the application. After completing evaluations, Board members meet to discuss the applications and make their funding decisions. Projects are approved or denied by majority vote by Board members. The rubric is available online. We recommend reviewing it prior to and during the compilation of your application. Doing so will give you insight to what the Board is seeking in a successful project.

When will we hear whether or not our project has been awarded?

Applicants will be notified of the Board’s decision within 30 days of the application deadline. Decisions will come in the form of a letter signed by either the Board Chair or the Executive Secretary. Letters are attached as PDF files to emails that are sent from the Executive Secretary. The emails are sent to the contact person indicated in the application. Please ensure that information is up to date! If you do not receive an email within 30 days, check your spam folder and contact the Executive Secretary.

Working on your project:

Can we extend our deadline?

Unfortunately the USHRAB cannot extend your grant deadline. Rules governing the management of the State Archives’ budget prevent us from carrying over funding from one fiscal year to the next. For this reason, your project must be complete by the end of the state’s fiscal year, which is in June.

We’ve encountered some unexpected costs. Can we adjust our award to receive more funds?

Simply put, no. The amount you are awarded is determined by the Board and outlined in your contract, which you will have signed before beginning work. This amount cannot be adjusted. However, there is room for flexibility in your anticipated spending and how you calculate your one-to-one match, so long as both fall within the guidelines established by Attachment B: Scope of Work, located in your contract. Please contact the Executive Secretary to explain your specific situation and discuss how best to move forward.

We finished our project! Now what?

Congratulations! In order to receive funding, you will need to submit a final report. Your final report will consist of both a narrative self-evaluation of your project and a summary of your outcomes, as well as your final budget, time and expense sheets, and reimbursement request. Many of these forms can be found on our website, but you will be submitting the report and the forms through our online grants management system. 

Once we have received your forms, we will forward your reimbursement request to the Division of Finance, who will mail you a check. We will also be compiling the information you provide us into our own final report, which we submit in the early fall to the NHPRC, the commission at the National Archives which funds all of the USHRAB’s programs, including our grant program. 

Once all of the administrative details are taken care of, the Board Executive Secretary, Mahala Ruddell, will be in touch with you regarding promoting your project on the Utah State Archives’ and USHRAB’s blog and social media accounts. View some examples from past projects here, here, and here. Successful applicants are required to promote their projects through their own channels as well. This could be in the form of press releases, social media campaigns, local news articles, public events such as lectures, curated online exhibits, curriculum and other educational programming, and more. You must acknowledge the USHRAB and the NHPRC in all of your publications and promotional material. Get creative and let us know what your plans are! We’re happy to help you publicize.

Lastly, don’t forget to celebrate! Wrapping up a grant project is a huge achievement and deserves recognition and a pat on the back. Consider meeting with your project team to chat about how things went, what you learned, and what comes next.