While paper records remain fundamental, the growing-and often critical-significance of records in non-traditional formats must not be overlooked. The Board places priority on projects which focus on, or give explicit attention to, non-traditional documentary media.
Personal computers, optical imaging, and international computer networks have had profound effects on communication in the late 20th century. Based upon recommendations of participants in a 1990 national conference on this subject, the Board supports projects which address the appraisal and preservation of, and access to, electronic records.
Oral history is a critical component of modern documentation. Presently, NHPRC does not fund grants for oral history projects, except for projects dealing with Native Americans.
Other Sound and Visual Materials:
Photographs, films, videotapes, and sound recordings are vital historical resources. Increasingly, graphic and aural representations are replacing the written word in communication and documentation.
These sound and visual materials are being used by historians not simply as illustrations, but as primary sources. Their preservation and access require special consideration.
Paper ephemera (e.g., handbills, advertisements, circular letters) are often the only record which survives of events, performances, and small voluntary organizations and businesses. The use of personal computers has made the creation of ephemera easier and less expensive. Greater efforts are needed to selectively collect, organize, catalog, and conserve these often overlooked documents.