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Guidelines for writing letters to Congressional members regarding the NHPRC budget issue:

A few things to remember when writing letters:

Letters to members of Congress need to clearly define the issue, provide a statement of why the writer is concerned about the issue, and identify an action the member is being asked to take.  Letters should be individually composed—form letters will be taken with considerably less seriousness. 

Letters should be FAXED to the member of Congress.  Email is not carefully considered because of the volume coming in.  Hard copy letters coming in have to be irradiated prior to being delivered to a member’s office and arrive weeks if not months late.

Background information writers can use in composing their letter:

  • The issue:  The National Historical Publications and Records Commission is the grant-making arm of the National Archives and Records Administration.  In the President’s budget NHPRC has been targeted for zero funding for grants and zero funding for staff to administer the NHPRC and its grants program.  This is in effect an elimination of this grants program.


  • Why NHPRC is important (general):  NHPRC makes grants each year to institutions across the country to preserve historical records, publish historical papers, and to make historical materials more accessible.  Its grants help state and local organizations
    • edit and publish historical documents
    • develop archival programs
    • promote the preservation and use of historical records
    • promote regional and national coordination in addressing major archival issues


It leads the nation in supporting research and implementing scalable solutions to the challenges of electronic record.

While the National Archives concentrates on federal records, the NHPRC assists archival institutions and documentary editors with making non-Federal records that are also essential to our national story and to the daily functioning of our democracy, and even our economy (for example, records of corporate organizations and real estate transactions) accessible.

NHPRC grants preserve and make accessible records and documentary editions that sustain the work of biographers, classroom teachers, documentary filmmakers, journalists, lawyers, land surveyors, historians, genealogists, community historians, museum exhibit designers.  (see the NHPRC Fact Sheet for more details)

NHPRC grants are a good investment.  The average non-Federal contribution is almost 50%. 
3.  Why NHPRC is important to our state/region (specific reasons the writer is urging support):   Provide the congress member with specific examples of NHPRC’s contributions.   This might include the number of grants given by NHPRC and the value they have brought to documenting and making accessible the state’s heritage and particularly how users in the state/district have made use of them.  For a list of NHPRC grants, see the NHPRC website:

Make your case with tangible examples if at all possible.

  • Teachers in the Apocryphal School District used records on the Erie Canal that were identified and made accessible by an NHPRC grant to the Apocryphal Historical Society.  The records were used to teach students how to recognize fact and opinion, and to draw conclusions from contradictory eye-witness accounts.  This type of education use supports the learning standards initiated as part of the No Child Left Behind efforts in this state.
    • Filmmaker Sol Celluloid used photographs and film preserved and made accessible through an NHPRC grant to the Transparent Visual Archives for a path-breaking documentary on the experiences of soldiers from State X during D-Day in World War II. 
    • 4.  What action needs to be taken?  End the letter by asking the member to take a specific action such as:

      • For members of the Appropriations Committee:  Please see that $10 million dollars is restored in grants funding for NHPRC along with $2 million in funding in the NARA budget for NHPRC administration of this function. 

        • For members who are in a special caucus (Humanities Caucus, Black Caucus, etc) or who may have influence with Appropriations Committee:  Please urge your colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to restore $10 million in grants funding for NHPRC along with $2 million in the NARA budget for staff to manage this function.





          March 2006 (rev)