REISSUANCE: Request for Proposals Historic Resource Study Addendum for African American History of First State National Historical Park

Shawn Leigh Alexander's picture

The National Park Service (NPS) through a cooperative agreement with the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Inc., (ASALH) is seeking the services of a Principal Investigator (PI) who will perform research and writing of a Historic Resource Study (HRS) Addendum for First State National Historical Park (NHP) in Delaware. The HRS will provide NPS and partners a historical overview of the park and identify its cultural resources within historic contexts. The information contained in the HRS Addendum is essential for present and future interpretation and resource management.

The contract is administered by ASALH and the work prepared for and completed in coordination with the National Park Service. All work accomplished by this research project will be credited to ASALH but becomes the property of the National Park Service and will be made publicly available.

Interested parties should submit a proposal in response to this RFP to ASALH no later than 5:00 pm EST on January 9, 2023. Electronic copies may be directed to ASALH at with the subject line “First State HRS.”

Project Background

Initially created as First State National Monument by Presidential Proclamation on March 25, 2013, Congress redesignated the monument as First State National Historical Park on December 19, 2014. The park’s enabling legislation (H.R. 3979, Public Law 113-291) describes the park’s purposes to preserve, protect, and interpret the nationally significant cultural and historic resources that are associated with: (A) early Dutch, Swedish, and English settlement of the Colony of Delaware and portions of the Colony of Pennsylvania; and (B) the role of Delaware (i) in the birth of the United States; and (ii) as the first state to ratify the Constitution.

Required Principal Investigator Qualifications

The minimum professional qualifications in history are a graduate degree in history or closely-related field plus one of the following:

  1. At least two years of full-time experience in research, writing, teaching, interpretation, or other demonstrable professional activity with an academic institution, historic organization or agency, museum, or other professional institution, or

  2. Substantial contribution through research and publication to the body of scholarly knowledge in the field of history.

Additional Qualifications

Knowledge, skills, and ability in the following:

  • Organize data and analyze and interpret its authenticity and relative significance;

  • Gather historical data from sources such as archives, court records, diaries, news files, and

    photographs, as well as collect data sources such as books, pamphlets, and periodicals;

  • Conduct historical research as a basis for the identification, conservation, and reconstruction of

    historic places and materials;

  • Conduct historical research and publish or present findings and theories;

  • Organize information for publication and for means of dissemination;

  • Collect detailed information on individuals for use in the preparation of biographies.

Scope of Work


This HRS Addendum will be a comprehensive synthesis of primary and secondary source material that is pertinent specifically to First State NHP. The study shall conform to professional standards regarding the methodology of historical research and writing. Stylistic, bibliographical, and report production standards shall conform to the current edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.

The HRS Addendum, including enumerated appendices, graphics, and index shall be completed within 32-months of the date of contract award. It is expected that the finished product will amount to 200-250 pages.


The Park is comprised of six sites throughout the state of Delaware, of which the NPS owns and manages the approximately 1,300 contiguous acres, in northern Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania, called Brandywine Valley, and the Sheriff’s House in New Castle. The NPS coordinates with several state and local organizations to support the other five sites, statewide. Those five other sites are Fort Christina and Old Swedes Church in Wilmington; the New Castle Court House Museum and New Castle Green in historic New Castle; the Dover Green, and the John Dickinson Plantation in Dover.

In addition, the legislation authorizes the park to “provide interpretive tours to sites and resources in the State [Delaware] that are located outside the boundary of the historical park and associated with the purposes for which the historical park is established,” which includes Fort Casimir, Amstel House, and the Dutch House in New Castle County, and the DeVries Monument and Zwaanendael Museum in Sussex County.


Park partners play a key and important role at First State. First State NHP operating partners include: Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, Old Swedes Foundation and Trinity Parish, Kalmar Nyckel Foundation, the New Castle Historical Society, First State Heritage Park and the Delaware Public Archives. Several of these partners have repositories with important primary and secondary sources.

Objectives and Purpose


This project will produce a Historic Resource Study (HRS) Addendum for First State National Historical Park (NHP). The initial HRS was completed in 2019 and comprised of two major sections of historical overview: 1) History of the Brandywine Valley, and 2) Early settlement and development of the state of Delaware. This addendum project will address one of the primary research suggestions of the initial HRS - the addendum will expand the African American history context.

An HRS, as defined in NPS Cultural Resource Management Guidelines (NPS-28), is a key baseline document that provides a historical overview of a park or region and identifies a park’s cultural resources within historic contexts. This HRS will place the park’s resources within social and economic contexts that will help managers in the future. Work will include a review of secondary literature bearing directly

on the site and contextual literature that has a bearing on site significance. This information will greatly expand existing baseline information and will influence different aspects of the park as it develops, including interpretation and education programming, and influence how the park’s significance is presented to visitors and the public.

African American history runs as a vibrant thread in Delaware history from colonial founding to the Civil Rights era, yet the NPS knows little about how this history connects to the nationally significant and fundamental resources of First State NHP. This study will be chronological and combine historical and ethnographic research to create a comprehensive narrative. Park interpreters are actively engaged in the interpretation of slavery and the racial politics of antebellum America. However, more information about the African American experience in Delaware is needed to fully engage in this dynamic, relevant topic in a thoughtful and appropriate way. This information is essential to bring interpretation of First State NHP Sites up to date using the most recent scholarship and to provide managers with knowledge of a dimension of the Park’s cultural resources previously unidentified.

A Principal Investigator (PI) will prepare the HRS Addendum based on an analysis of primary and secondary source material from park records, state and local archives, and regional office files. The final product will be a peer-reviewed study that comprises an accurate, thorough account of the resources of the park. Photographs, maps, charts, and other figures will be used as necessary to enhance the text. The overview history must contain footnotes (rather than end notes or reference notes).

The PI will also develop a digital product to share the report’s findings with a broader audience; an illustrated executive summary, analysis of a key primary source, and/or a virtual presentation to NPS staff are potential products, which will be determined in consultation with the park. The study will also produce project files ready for accessioning into the park’s museum collection.


This HRS Addendum will explore stories of slavery and freedom in Delaware. It will provide a historical overview and develop historic contexts for African American resources at First State NHP. The study will synthesize all available cultural resource information from multiple disciplines in a narrative designed to serve managers, planners, interpreters, cultural resource specialists, and interested public as a reference for the history of the region and the resources within the park. This project also aims to connect First State NHP with NPS service-wide commemorations such as 400 Years of AfricanAmerican History, America250, as well as the Civil Rights in America Initiative. This project will compile enriched baseline documentation and primary sources to foster future, engaging programs. The HRS Addendum will also be of interest to the public as a reference for the region’s African American history, and therefore should be written for a broad popular audience as well as for NPS management.


The PI shall be responsible for producing all submittals in Microsoft Word (2010 or later version) and submitting to the designated NPS project manager. The final approved Historic Resource Study will contain all sections described below and include footnotes.

All citations and formatting will be according to the most recent edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. The PI will be responsible for all sections of the study. To facilitate reviewer comments, all pages will be numbered and provide left margin line numbers for all progress reports and drafts.

In addition to the products listed below, the PI will provide quarterly electronic progress reports to ASALH. These reports will describe what research and writing has been accomplished, any significant findings from the research and any concerns the PI may have regarding locating specific materials or meeting deadlines.

The following overview details the major sections that must comprise the study.

Front Matter
1. Cover Page
2. Signature Page: shall include signature and date lines for two approving officials in the following order: "Recommended/Associate Regional Director, Cultural Resources, Interior-Region 1/Date; Approved/Superintendent, First State National Historical Park/Date.
3. Executive Summary
4. Table of Contents
5. List of Illustrations: must include captions and give page numbers for photographs, figures/illustrations, maps, and other forms of graphics subject matter. If warranted, separate lists for specific types of illustrations may be used.
6. Acknowledgments
7. Preface
8. List of Abbreviations and/or Acronyms

Text or Main Body of the Report
9. Introduction
10. Historical Data/Narrative and Analysis: Major questions/themes include, but are not limited to, those identified below:

i. Who were the enslaved who lived in Delaware before William Penn’s arrival?

ii. What strategies did African Americans pursue to construct, express, and maintain their identities?

iii. Where were the free black communities in Delaware? Who lived there and what were their social networks?

iv. How does race impact, segregate, or hinder the efforts of activists? How are actions, spaces, and landscapes racialized?
v. In what ways do the individuals associated with each site contribute to or draw from a sense of racial consciousness?

vi. What role does Delaware’s identity as the “first state” play in its relationship to future Amendments and its participation in incarceration and capital sentencing?
vii. In what ways do the stories at these sites confirm or challenge existing historical narratives about social, civil, and political rights?
viii. How has the legacy of school segregation persisted in Delaware’s school districts, and what is that relationship to settlement patterns and present-day communities?
ix. How do the recently found African American burial grounds in Kent and Sussex counties weave together with enslaved and free African Americans not being able to practice religion or be buried in church cemeteries until the early-mid 1800s?
x. Were Park sites used as a place where people gathered to advocate for civil rights and social justice. If yes, how?

xi. To better understand the relationship between the anti-slavery movement in the 19th century and park sites- What is Delaware’s particular relationship with the legacy of being a slave state? What are the legal, social, economic, psychological, and physical limitations African Americans face today from Antebellum - Reconstruction era instituted laws?

xii. How is Delaware's history of Black and Indigenous peoples unique? How do the experiences in Delaware compare with the rest of DelMarVa?
xiii. How does Delaware compare to New Jersey and Pennsylvania - what makes Delaware histories distinctive and how is it effected by geography, patterns of migration/immigration, religion, landscape and poli/legal economy?

11. Epilogue (or Conclusion): must consist of a closing statement that provides further comment, if appropriate, on the interpretation of the information found in the study.
12. Research Recommendations: these recommendations must include a discussion of topics for future study, including an indication of why the author thinks they are relevant to park management and reference to any known sources that might be useful for this future research.

Back Matter
13. Appendices: should include copies or transcriptions of key documents and data including but not limited to legislation, agreement documents, genealogical information or family trees, maps, and other valuable information.
14. Bibliography: must list the primary and secondary source materials researched and used for the preparation of the study. The bibliography will be broken into sections by kinds of materials (i.e., primary and secondary sources, etc.) as directed in The Chicago Manual of Style. This section will also include a discursive “bibliographic essay” which discusses the repositories consulted and outcomes, with a description of the research value of each repository.

Illustrations: A limited number of illustrations should appear at the end of relevant chapters. Wherever possible, the Principal Investigator should choose illustrations that are in the public domain. The Principal Investigator is responsible for the cost of all reproductions and for securing copyright permission, where applicable. All illustrations should be labeled with captions that fully identify the subject, where published (if published), and provide credit lines identifying where the original can be found. Illustrations should be numbered and referred to by number in the text. A full list of illustrations with captions will be included following the table of contents. Copies of permission agreements, grouped together and clearly labeled, must be included in the research materials that are turned over the park at the completion of the project.

Transfer of Knowledge

The HRS Addendum will be used by, and be of interest to, a broad audience, including the general public; making the report’s findings on the park’s website is a small but 18 important element of this project. Digital products could include a 3–4-page project summary, a microhistory, special focus on a compelling primary source, story map, or interactive timeline. The product should be determined in consultation with park staff by the end of the first full draft. The PI will also give a virtual presentation about the report and its findings to NPS staff at a close out meeting.

Project Research Files

At the conclusion of research and within 60 days of written acceptance of the final print-proof report, all notes, records, maps, drawings, photographs, negatives, slides, digital images, tapes, digital recordings transcripts, and other data acquired during the course of this study will be professionally organized for archival purposes and submitted to the Contracting Officers Representative, to be deposited in the archives of NPS unit.


All work specified shall be completed no later than 36 months from selection and in accordance with the following schedule. All deliverables will be made to ASALH, except as noted below. The NPS will provide comments to the Principal Investigator on the detailed narrative outline and the draft of one chapter within 30 days of receipt of these products. The NPS will provide comments on the first, second and final drafts within 30 days of receipt.


Recipient teleconference


Teleconference with ASALH, park staff, and regional office staff to discuss selection of Principal Investigator.

Start-up meeting and onsite orientation for project team

Consult with NPS staff to schedule an initial conversation and on-site orientation meeting with ASALH and the PI, park and regional office staff to discuss content, location of source material, access to documentary resources, research goals, schedule, and project deliverables. The NPS will provide a tour to acquaint the Principal Investigator with the park and its resources. All members of the research team will attend (anticipated travel costs should be factored into the budget proposal).

No later than 1 month from selection of Principal Investigator

Detailed Outline

Conduct sufficient preliminary research to complete a research plan and detailed outline. The outline shall include descriptions of each chapter containing sufficient detail to demonstrate the complete range of topics and themes to be discussed as well as chronological periods. It should contain all pertinent information necessary for sound decisions to be reached regarding further topical research and content of the final report and include a list of all repositories consulted. The outline will provide the basis for the “Table of Contents” for the project.

NPS will provide review comments on the outline to the PI within 30 days of receipt of the document. The PI shall make necessary revisions and submit the final chapter outline to NPS within 15 days of receipt by the contractor.

No later than 6 months from startup meeting


If necessary, following NPS review, a meeting or conference call may be scheduled to develop further the final content of the study. An approved outline will result from this review.


Draft of one chapter

The chapter draft submitted should be a complete chapter from the main body of the report and be determined in consultation with the NPS. The submitted chapter will adhere to the format for the first draft.

NPS will provide review comments on the chapter to the PI within 30 days of receipt of the document. The PI shall make necessary revisions and submit the final draft chapter to NPS within 15 days of receipt by the contractor.

No later than 4 months after NPS returns outline comments.

First draft of study

The first draft will consist of a completed report, including front matter, footnotes, and preliminary bibliography, and will include all maps, graphics, footnotes, and appendices to be included in the final report. The draft will be reviewed by NPS for contract sufficiency and professional quality.

Within 30 days of receipt by NPS, the draft will be reviewed and the contractor will be notified when review comments will be transmitted. During the period of revision of the draft, the contractor will consult with NPS to ensure the satisfactory resolution of review comments and submission of a final draft in a timely manner.

Preliminary discussion of transfer of knowledge & digital product component.

No later than 10 months after the NPS returns comments on the draft chapter.

Second draft of study

The second draft addressing all previous comments will be submitted for two, double-blind peer reviews in addition to NPS review.

In addition to meeting the requirements for the first draft, by this submission, the Principal Investigator is responsible for:
• obtaining copyright permission and providing appropriate credit line for government printing of all images

• providing images as digital images in high resolution jpg or tif format suitable for printing – see NER Formatting Guidelines
identifying images by subject, publication

information, and location of original.

No later than 3 months after NPS returns first draft comments


ASALH will complete peer review and provide peer reviewer names and reviews to the NPS for review and comment within 30 days from Principal Investigator submission. NPS will return response within 30 days. NPS response and peer reviews will be provided to the Principal Investigator.

During the period of revision of the draft, the contractor will consult with NPS to ensure the satisfactory resolution of review comments and submission of a final draft in a timely manner.


Final study

A final draft report addressing review comments transmitted to the contractor by NPS will be submitted to NPS prior to printing of the final document for acceptance. ASALH will design appropriate cover art/graphics including the NPS Arrowhead for the camera-ready final document.

The Principal Investigator will select an appropriate illustration for the cover and may provide a descriptive title (Otherwise, "Historic Resource Study Addendum: First State National Historical Park" will be used).

No later than 2 months after NPS returns second draft comments

Print-proof version

A final, copy-edited, print-proof version of the report will be submitted to the NPS for approval and signature.

No later than 2 months after NPS returns acceptance of final version

Public Presentation

The PI will share project overview and methodology with audiences through a recorded virtual presentation. They will also prepare a 3-4- page executive summary for posting on the park’s website, and other digital products as appropriate.

No later than 1 month after completion of final edits.

Closeout meeting and delivery of research files and printed copies

ASALH, PI, park and regional office staff will meet to review the project, ensure that copies of all research notes are turned over to the NPS; copies of permission agreements, grouped together and clearly labeled, must be included in the research materials that are turned over the park at the completion of the project.

No later than 2 weeks after public presentation

Proposal Submissions

For evaluation purposes, proposals should provide sufficient information as to assist ASALH in determining the most qualified Principal Investigator for the project. Interested parties should submit a written proposal that includes the following:

  • Name of the individual(s) that would be working on the project and their proposed area(s) of responsibility.

  • A curriculum vitae.

  • A minimum of five (5) years’ experience in preparing National Register nominations that have

    been accepted by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places.

  • Information on projects of a similar nature and of significant work completed by the Principal

    Investigator candidate in the past five (5) years. Include specific dates and types of services provided, and highlight success in meeting work schedules, project budgets, and product deadlines.

  • A list of references (at least three (3), but not more than five (5)) that may be contacted. The Principal Investigator candidate must return three (3) reference questionnaires from projects of similar scope within the last five (5) years.

  • A short narrative that responds to the scope of work as described in this RFP, which demonstrates the Principal Investigator candidate’s proposed approach to the project and capability to accomplish the desired goals.

  • Resumes of key personnel (Not to exceed two (2) pages on each resume). This factor will be used to evaluate documented evidence of the candidate’s ability to provide key personnel who meet all contract qualifications requirements. Proposed key personnel must meet all minimum requirements specified in the RFP for the duties/positions they are proposed to perform. Historian specializing in African American history, particularly of Civil War and Civil Rights history, strongly preferred.

  • A proposed project Schedule A

  • A proposed budget.

    All proposals must be received no later than 5:00 pm EST on January 9, 2023.

    They should be prepared simply and economically, providing a straight forward, concise description of the Principal Investigator candidate’s qualifications and capabilities to satisfy the requirements of this RFP. Proposals may be submitted via email in electronic format (MS Word or PDF format) to Ms. Kay Phillips, ASALH Project Manager, at ASALH will confirm receipt of submissions. However, if there are any issues (e.g., with the attachments working correctly), the Principal Investigator candidate is responsible for resolving these issues with an alternative submission method acceptable to ASALH and NPS.

    Selection Criteria

    Submittals will be evaluated and ranked based on the following factors, presented in no particular order:

    • Qualifications of Principal Investigator candidate.

    • The extent to which the proposal addresses the project’s purpose and scope of work.

    • Experience in conducting historical research for historical biographies, publications, and

      disseminating research using several forms of distribution.

    • Knowledge of use and means of primary resources, searching through digital and hard copy

      archives, and basic historical interpretation.

    • Demonstrated capability of meeting projected deadlines and successfully completing contracts of

      this type.

    • Past performance and references.

    • Proposed project schedule.

      Available Funding

      The stipend for the Principal Investigator of this project is $39,000 (exclusive of expenses such as travel and printing). Funding is available to pay for assistance from a researcher.

Terms and Conditions

A. ASALH reserves the right to reject any and all proposals, and to waive minor irregularities in any proposal.
B. ASALH reserves the right to request clarification of information submitted, and to request additional information from any Principal Investigator candidate.

C. ASALH and NPS shall not be responsible for any costs incurred by Principal Investigator candidates in preparing, submitting or presenting its response to this RFP.
D. All completed nominations and executive summaries must fully comply with Section 508 accessibility standards (https://www.section for electronic documents.

E. Any and all rights to work produced through his project will be vested in the Department of the Interior, National Park Service, including any copyrights.
F. The selected Principal Investigator must also comply with all applicable provisions of
OMB Circular A-110 A-110 REVISED 11/19/93 As Further Amended 9/30/99. (


Respondents are invited to submit written questions requesting clarifications or explanations of the information contained in this RFP. Please direct all proposal or contract-related questions to Ms. Kay Phillips, ASALH Project Manager, at

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