10 Replies Latest reply on Jul 15, 2016 7:56 AM by Bill Streifer

    How do I obtain the funds to purchase NARA archival documents?

    Bill Streifer

      Suppose I've located a 500-page document concerning Japan's wartime nuclear activities during WWII (which I frankly can't afford). And NARA doesn't permit FOIA requests -- or fee waivers -- for archival documents. What are other sources of funds to purchase this report for publication?

        • Re: How do I obtain the funds to purchase NARA archival documents?

          While the National Archives at College Park does not offer free copies, you can come into the archives and take photos of the document for free.

          • Re: How do I obtain the funds to purchase NARA archival documents?
            Bill Streifer

            Unfortunately, some topics are "dead" since they are considered settled. So no museum, library or archive is going to invest money in a topic about which everything is assumed known. But everything in my area of interest is not known, and for that reason, I called the 500 pages suitable for publication. Thanks anyway.

            • Re: How do I obtain the funds to purchase NARA archival documents?
              Vernon O'Neil

              my granddaughter raised money for a studying trip down in south america last year through some website where strangers gave her money because she wrote it up interesting. Go Fund me I think.

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                • Re: How do I obtain the funds to purchase NARA archival documents?
                  Bill Streifer

                  Go Fund Me is a great idea IF it shows up in search engines. If it comes up on search engines, it might catch the eye of a stranger. But if it just sits there, it won't.

                   

                  Another problem is that the information in those documents change the way we understand history, so I can't give too much away, which is exactly what a Go Fund Me benefactor would want. Why would he invest $500 on something he knows nothing about? Yes, I could convince NARA of its importance, obtain a fee waiver, or file a FOIA, and they wouldn't have to sign a NDA, but a stranger would. So, these documents may just end up sitting there. Which is a shame.

                    • Re: How do I obtain the funds to purchase NARA archival documents?
                      Marie Maxwell

                      Others have suggested on-line fundraising such as Go Fund Me, and I suppose there are other ones, but that requires some work on your behalf to get the word out there along with selling the idea to people and convincing them that your project is worthy of support. Look for organizations with an interest in Japanese culture or nuclear issues and ask if they provide grants to independent researchers.

                       

                      Friends and contacts are great resources. Do you know anyone in the Southern Maryland area (I'm guessing the docs are at A2) who would be willing to spend time at the Archives and do the photocopying (or taking cell phone images) for you? There are professional researchers who do this sort of thing but I don't know how much their services cost compared to the photocopy costs from NARA. Maybe you know a fellow enthusiast, maybe even a professional researcher who'll do you a favor or barter services and get your copies to you.

                       

                      If you can't connect with others to do the work or provide funds, you might just have to save up for it or raise your own funds by selling something or taking on paid short-term gigs.

                        • Re: How do I obtain the funds to purchase NARA archival documents?
                          Bill Streifer

                          There are more than a few problems with your great suggestions, and the suggestions of others:

                           

                          GoFundMe: It's typically for friends and family to invest; far fewer "strangers" do;

                           

                          Loss of control: These documents have escaped experts for nearly 80 years. I'm not going to hand over their location to a stranger, even a stranger who "does this for a living.";

                           

                          Go there myself: Is that FREE? Maybe if I lived in suburban Washington, D.C. But for 99.9% of the rest of the country, it requires driving your car (with gas), renting a car (with gas and rental fees), flying to Washington, and taking a taxi to NARA (God know what that costs), and staying in a hotel for a night or two. As long as I'm there, I should probably photograph all 2,000 documents, not just the first 500; plus eating at restaurants, etc., etc. etc.;

                           

                          If I ran NARA, which doesn't look like it will happen any time soon, this is what I'd do:

                           

                          1. NARA should offer grants.

                           

                          2. Set up a copying fee that reflects how many times a document might be scanned over a 5-year period. Why should Mr. A pay $125 for copies today, and next year, Ms. B pay another $125 for copies. Why doesn't NARA make a pdf the first time, thus lowering the cost to everyone?

                           

                          3. Offer an agreement like this: If a highly-valuable document is discovered, it should be taken out of storage and put on display at NARA or at a library of museum which recognizes it's true value. Say I discovered a working copy of the Declaration of Independence. Would NARA charge me $0.85 per copy and then stick the original back in storage. I don't think so. How are my documents any different? "Your documents aren't that valuable," you say? How could you know that??

                           

                          4. NARA should offer grants. Oh, I said that already.

                           

                          5. I know a lot of people; Bill Streifer  Maybe a government official, or a member of the military, or a university professor would have better luck convincing NARA of the importance of these documents than I have, to date.

                            • Re: How do I obtain the funds to purchase NARA archival documents?
                              Marie Maxwell

                              NARA does offer grants, click - Grants

                              Off the top of my head NHPRC grants tend to go to institutions and do not fund the kind of activities you've outlined. There is a grant offered by the Truman Library Institute (http://trumanlibraryinstitute.org/research-grants/research-grants/ ) which pays for lodging and photocopies. I don't know much about that grant and I have no idea if there is much competition for it.

                               

                              In thinking of how to respond to your other points, I'm thinking of the wonderful genealogical community. That research community is beautiful in how they share information and reach out to help each other, sometimes in extraordinary ways. Strangers helping and assisting strangers, building a strong community. Yes, they'll happily lose control of a letter they spent years searching for by sharing it with their families and people they don't know from Adam. By not reaching out and enlisting others in this effort, the opportunity to build a community is missed.

                               

                              The point of grants and funding for research is to better society and community. The things NHPRC funds makes the community of archives and history better. The same can be said of many other formal grants offered by the Presidential Libraries, historical societies, humanities councils, and the like. They fund not to help individuals hide the light under the bushel better, but to share that knowledge.

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