Open call for first aid for endangered documentary heritage

Previous calls for proposals in 2017 and 2018 received a strong response. Now, the Prince Claus Fund, through its Cultural Emergency Response (CER) program, and the Whiting Foundation are announcing a third round of the Open Call for First Aid for Documentary Heritage in Danger. We invite proposals for projects in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean to safeguard documentary heritage seriously threatened by recent conflicts or other catastrophes, whether natural or man-made.

What is at stake

Manuscripts, rare books, archives, tablets, inscriptions and other types of written records are sometimes the only way in which the past survives. Whether in monasteries, private libraries or forgotten tombs, they are objects of historical importance and deep local significance. They are also especially fragile, susceptible to fire, insects, water and humidity, and are sometimes deliberately destroyed by those who fear their symbolic power. When there is an earthquake, flood or armed attack, heritage can be lost forever.

What we’re doing

In the previous two rounds of this call, the Prince Claus Foundation and the Whiting Foundation supported administrators worldwide to prevent and minimize the loss of documentary heritage by funding 26 projects. They responded to different types of threats, urgently safeguarding a wide variety of collections and inscriptions. In the Marshall Islands, we supported the Alele Museum to digitize and improve the storage conditions of an important archive and helped prepare for the consequences of climate change. In Palestine, where the ancient manuscripts of the Great Omari Mosque were threatened by the ongoing conflict, staff were trained in the preservation and digitization of the collection and how to carry out urgent rescues. In Ecuador, where the Santo Domingo monastery library collection was damaged by the earthquake and humidity, we strengthened local efforts for emergency clean-up and preservation of the collection and recovery of the library. And in Colombia, we funded the visual documentation and dissemination of pre-Hispanic inscriptions threatened by active mining.

In the past two years we have received an overwhelming number of applications from more than 70 different countries, illustrating the urgent need for support. However, there are still countries that we have not reached in previous cycles. We therefore strongly encourage applicants from South-East Asia, Central Asia, Central Africa, South America and the Caribbean to apply. However, we consider applications from all parts of Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe.

This third round will continue to broaden the scope of this initiative and facilitate the vital work of safeguarding physical objects and making the information they carry accessible to a wider public for generations to come. In doing so, we hope to contribute to the appreciation of cultural achievements and historical diversity and to foster the worldwide dissemination of forgotten or endangered histories.

For inquiries, please contact

To apply, please download and complete the Declaration of Need form. The form can be completed in English, French or Spanish. Please send the form with supporting materials to

The deadline for submission of applications is 31 January 2020 at 17.00 Amsterdam time (CET). Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

Please note that proposals will be accepted throughout the call. The budget for this call is limited and priority is given to the most urgent requests. Applicants are advised not to wait until the deadline, but to submit their application as soon as possible after their documentary heritage has been affected by conflict, natural disaster or man-made disaster.

For more information visit the official site Here

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