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August 2009

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August 17, 2009

Jim Leach Becomes NEH's Ninth Chairman

Leach greets NEH staff in town hall meeting moments after being sworn in
Soul of a People: Writing America's Story records the first-ever portrait of America from the ground up

EDSITEment features the Picturing America Resource Index

Bookmark it! There is a lot of information on the Federal/State Partnership website

Leach greets NEH staff in town hall meeting moments after being sworn in

Leach was a Representative from Iowa for thirty years and co-founded the Congressional Humanities Caucus.
Leach was a Representative from Iowa for thirty years and co-founded the Congressional Humanities Caucus.

In his first public comments after being sworn in as NEH chairman the morning of August 12th, Jim Leach told the staff that "bridging cultures" will be the theme of his chairmanship. “In an era where declining civility increasingly hallmarks domestic politics and where anarchy has taken root in many parts of the world, it is imperative that cultural differences at home and abroad be respectfully understood, rather than irrationally denigrated.”

The Los Angeles Times quotes an email from Leach saying that his goal as chairman "is to emphasize support for programs that help bridge cultural divides at home as well as abroad. Culture and its diversity should ennoble rather than serve as a threat to the human experience."

Shortly after arriving at NEH following his Senate confirmation, Mr. Leach visited Federal/State Partnership.

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Soul of a People: Writing America's Story records the first-ever portrait of America from the ground up

The Federal Writers' Project, one of the many creative stimulus programs of the New Deal, is the subject of Soul of a People, a two-part documentary that premieres September 6, Labor Day weekend, on Smithsonian Channel HD. The FWP created work for thousands of writers and launched the careers of writers like Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, Saul Bellow, and John Cheever. At its peak, the Project employed over 6,600 people in 48 states. One of its best known alumni, Studs Terkel, appears in the documentary in one of his last interviews.

Filmed in high definition, Soul of a People received major funding from NEH and the Illinois Humanities Council, the Nebraska Humanities Council, the Idaho Humanities Council, the Maryland Humanities Council, Humanities Texas, and the Wisconsin Humanities Council. It was produced and directed by Andrea Kalin. Co-producer David A. Taylor is author of the companion book Soul of a People: The WPA Writers Project Uncovers Depression America.

Soul of a People is an extensive collaborative project. The American Library Association also received major funding from NEH to create library outreach programming about the FWP at over thirty libraries around the country. It will also be featured at the National Book Festival, September 26, on the National Mall.

EDSITEment features the Picturing America Resource Index

Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975), The Sources of Country Music, 1975*
Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975), The Sources of Country Music, 1975*

EDSITEment, NEH's online teacher resource center, now has a series of lesson plans in its Picturing America Resource Index, with more to come during the new school year.

The lesson highlighted for August focuses on Thomas Hart Benton's The Sources of Country Music. Benton is quoted as saying that, "The old music cannot last much longer. I count it a great privilege to have heard it in the sad twang of mountain voices before it died."

*Acrylic on canvas, 72 x 120 in. (182.9 x 304.8 cm.). Courtesy of the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum, Nashville, Tenn. The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, Inc.

Bookmark it! There is a lot of information on the Federal/State Partnership website

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The Federal/State Partnership website is a resource for executives, boards, and staff of state humanities councils. All the documents and information you could want from Federal/State Partnership are available for perusal and download at your convenience.

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