Grants to Archives: Guidelines and Application Procedures


The purpose of this program is to assist and encourage archives to undertake significant projects to preserve, process, inventory, arrange, describe, or catalog collections in the history of modern physics and allied fields such as astronomy, geophysics, optics, and acoustics. The aim is to further historical understanding of science and the science community.


Eligibility is limited to archival projects in the history of modern physics and allied fields. All archival repositories in the U.S. and abroad may apply, including archives at universities, corporations, historical societies, government laboratories, etc. Individuals are not eligible to apply. Work not covered by this program includes oral histories, book cataloging, and projects focusing on preservation of scientific data. Preservation microfilming and preservation reformatting of original audio-visual sources are eligible.

Size of grants

The maximum grant amount is $10,000 USD. Institutions that receive grants are not eligible to apply the following year but may reapply in later years. The program is offered annually as funds permit.

We are specifically interested in increasing the money available to make original sources in our field accessible to researchers. Accordingly, applicants are strongly encouraged to obtain additional funds for the project, either from their parent institution or from outside sources such as local and state funding sources, national foundations, and government agencies. While no specific amount of matching money is required, we will give first priority to applications that include such new funds.

Use of grant funds

Grant funds can be used only to cover direct expenses connected with preserving, inventorying, arranging, describing, or cataloging appropriate collections. Funds may be used for digitization projects of appropriate scale and significance. Expenses may include archival materials and staff salaries/benefits but not equipment (computers, software, etc.) or overhead.

Application procedures

To apply, send the following materials by mail, fax, or email:

  • An application letter of no more than three pages describing the nature and research or educational significance of the collection(s) for the history of science. The letter should clearly state the historical significance of the materials and their nature (include volume in terms of linear feet or meters or other standard archival measure)
  • Plan of work: The plan of work should succinctly describe specific goals, the products that will be created, the procedures used, and the time schedule. In general, procedures should reflect modern archival standards (for example, processing should conform to the Society of American Archivist manuals or similar authorities; cataloging should be consistent with such standards as Anglo-American Cataloging Rules II and Describing Archives: A Content Standard). Successful applicants will be requested to send copies of all finding aids created as part of the grant project to the American Institute of Physics' Center for History of Physics
  • Budget for the project, which should also clearly identify if any additional funds (either currently available or anticipated) will be used for the project
  • Staff vitae
  • Preliminary inventory (if available)

Send applications via email or regular mail delivery to:

Melanie Mueller, Director
Niels Bohr Library & Archives
American Institute of Physics
One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 20740
[email protected]

You may wish to review a sample copy of a successful past proposal or view the list of previous grants to archives recipient projects. We are also glad to offer advice to applicants. Please contact us at 301-209-3177 or [email protected].


Applications must be received by 25 October 2024.


The grants program is competitive. Applications will be reviewed by a committee of historians and archivists, and applicants will be notified of the committee's decision within three months of the application deadline. In some cases applications may be sent to additional reviewers for comment. Preference will be given to medium size or larger projects for which the grant will be matched by the parent organization or other sources.

See also: