Research Inventory Grants

The Research Inventory Grant (RIG) program allows small organizations to identify and organize the contents of their historical collections—by creating inventories, catalogs, and finding aids—in order to attract both researchers and visitors.

Before initiating research projects and public programs, small historical societies, along with other organizations, must examine and assess their collections. The Research Inventory Grant (RIG) program allows such organizations to discover the potential—already held in their collections—to attract researchers, to inspire programming projects, and to draw additional public visitors. RIGs fund inventories of specific collections that will support future research and/or increase public access to a collection.

What May Be Inventoried

  • A specific collection—or portion of a collection—of archival records and/or artifacts.
  • The collection must be owned by the applicant organization or by another cooperating public institution. Privately owned collections are not eligible for RIG projects.
  • The collection must be relevant to the applicant organization’s mission and organized around a specific topic/theme/event. General inventories of large collections will not be considered.

What Will Be Produced

  • The final product of a RIG project is a searchable inventory, catalog, or finding aid.
  • The final product must be made widely available to the public and should support future research and/or increase public access to the collection.

Mass Humanities seeks to support small historical organizations in Massachusetts by funding inventorying projects designed to support future programming, including but not limited to cataloguing of manuscripts, published records, photographs, artifacts, or other materials in the organization`s collections or mission area. General inventories and inventories prepared for national register or historic district nominations will not be considered. Institutions that successfully complete an inventory project are encouraged to apply for the Scholar in Residence program.

All information needed to apply for and carry out a Research Inventory Grant project is available—in full detail—in the RIG Guidelines (a PDF that you may read online or download). What follows here are the essentials.

Essentials for Applicants

Eligible Applicants

  • All nonprofit and government organizations that serve Massachusetts residents are eligible to apply.
  • Priority is given to small historical organizations.

Grant Amounts

  • Organizations may request a maximum of $2,000.
  • Organizations must demonstrate a one-to-one in-kind and/or cash cost-share. There is no cash match requirement.


  • The Inventory Taker—a staff member, volunteer, or outside consultant—is responsible for conducting the inventory project. The Inventory Taker must demonstrate an understanding of the historical significance of the collection, as well as an ability to carry out the project to a professional standard.
  • The Project Director is a staff or board member who organizes the project and completes online reporting.
  • The Project Treasurer keeps track of project income and expenses, pays bills, and is responsible for financial documentation. The Project Director and Project Treasurer must be unrelated individuals.

Additional Requirements & Recommendations

  • RIG projects are generally completed between one and six months.
  • The one-to-one in-kind and/or cash cost-share is required in order to help small organizations build capacity. Please be sure to estimate all of your cash and in-kind efforts, especially time contributed by volunteers and staff members.
  • Mass Humanities has publicity requirements for all grant recipients.
  • Institutions that successfully complete an inventory project are encouraged to apply for a Scholar in Residence Grant focused on the same collection.
  • To get a sense of some of the specific projects we have supported, you may browse through the Past Grants Awarded section.

RIG Applications

  • RIG applications are accepted three times each year at these deadlines, and full instructions for applying are available on the Apply for a Grant page.
  • Question lists for both the LOI (inquiry form) and application are available in the RIG guidelines.
  • Along with providing information about the sponsoring organization, the project personnel, and the proposed project itself, the RIG application requires the following materials (which are explained in detail in the RIG guidelines and in the application itself):
    • A resume/CV of the Inventory Taker
    • A brief statement by the Inventory Taker
    • A budget request form
    • An application contract form


Please contact Abbye Meyer ( / 413-584-8440 ext. 102) or Melissa Wheaton ( / 413-584-8440 ext. 100) for support.