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June 2009 I

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June 3, 2009

Program Officers Met in Atlanta, May 28-30

Program officers on the grounds of the Georgia State Capitol as Dr. Tim Crimmins discusses the history of the building and the role it has played in shaping the state of Georgia.
Program Officers' Meeting explores Atlanta, social networking, and doing humanities in today's economic climate

Old Henry and those who are different: a civic reflection discussion at the Program Officers' Meeting

Chronicling America: America's digital newspaper project
Nominations are open for 2009 National Humanities Medalists and for the 2010 Jefferson Lecturer

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Program Officers' Meeting explores Atlanta, social networking, and doing humanities in today's economic climate



The house where Martin Luther King, Jr., was born at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta.

The house where Martin Luther King, Jr., was born at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta.

by Jamila Smith Owens, senior program officer, Georgia Humanities Council: Thirty-six program officers representing 23 state humanities councils met in Atlanta May 28-30 for the annual State Humanities Council Program Officers’ Meeting, hosted by the Georgia Humanities Council. For the past 20 years or so, this meeting has provided an opportunity for council program staff to network, share ideas, and learn from experts concerning best practices in the public humanities.

An ad hoc committee of program officers planned the conference, combining “nuts and bolts” sessions on specific program formats with others that examine broader trends. The overall goal was to provide significant professional development to strengthen the attendees and enhance the work they do to fulfill their councils' missions.

The opening session in Atlanta looked at “Humanities on a Budget” or how councils are adjusting their grant programs to respond to current economic difficulties. Another plenary featured Esther Mackintosh of the Federation and Kathleen Mitchell of NEH's Federal/State Partnership with updates on the national status of the humanities. Concurrent sessions focused on best practices for working with higher education and the Museum on Main Street Program. Another session was a text-based discussion that provided a civic reflection experience (see following article). The final plenary focused on effective programs for working with youth and young adults, such as the SUPER Emerging Scholars program of the Alabama Humanities Foundation.

A highlight of the conference was a session led by social media expert and former NPR “News and Notes” technology correspondent, Amani Channel. Participants learned how “tweeting” and “mini-blogging” can make lectures or workshops more interactive. Channel also emphasized how important it is for organizations to identify goals for social media outreach and strategies for achieving them.

To connect to the host community of Atlanta, two sessions focused on race and civil rights in American history. Dr. Tim Crimmins, author of GHC publication Democracy Restored: a History of the Georgia State Capitol, led a tour of the capitol and grounds, modeling a variety of techniques for interpreting buildings, statuary, and art works. Dr. Cliff Kuhn led a walking tour of Auburn Avenue, Atlanta’s historic black “main street,” which culminated at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. Dr. Kuhn and Saudia Muwakkil, from the National Park Service, reflected on two exhibits and program series that they developed to address topics concerning racial violence, and the attendees discussed other examples and formats appropriate for engaging similar difficult events and themes.

The 2010 State Humanities Council Program Officer meeting is scheduled to take place in Madison, hosted by the Wisconsin Humanities Council. In 2011 the meeting will move to North Carolina. Because these meetings provide worthwhile experiences for collegial sharing and professional development, may they continue for the next 20 years!

Old Henry and those who are different: a civic reflection discussion at the Program Officers' Meeting

Denise Pendleton, Lizz Sinclair, and Julia Walkling of the Maine Humanities Council moderated a reading and discussion session based on Old Henry written by Joan W. Blos and illustrated by Stephen Gammell. Old Henry is a book successfully used in the MHC's "New Books, New Readers," a program designed for adults who have difficulty reading or who are not in the habit of reading.

When Old Henry moves into a long-vacant and derelict house, his new neighbors are sure that he will take care of it. He doesn't. They fuss at him and send him nasty letters, all to no avail. When the mayor suggests that they try being nice, they offer him pies and volunteer to shovel the snow from his sidewalk. He rebuffs them and decides, recognizing that he doesn't fit in, to move away. Once he's gone, though, both he and his former neighbors miss each other.

The discussion was lively and demonstrated not only the evocative power of a text but also that of illustrations. As the discussion evolved, the pies offered to Old Henry morphed with an olive branch and became "olive pies." Here's a recipe for a kind of olive pie, a Quick Brie and Olive Pizza. What effect might an offering of this pie have had on Old Henry?

Chronicling America: America's digital newspaper project

On June 3, 1909, the San Francisco Call announced that one could buy property in downtown San Francisco for a down payment of $5. President William Howard Taft and former President Theodore Roosevelt appeared in the ad, quoted supporting American home ownership.
On June 3, 1909, the San Francisco Call announced that one could buy property in downtown San Francisco for a down payment of $5. President William Howard Taft and former President Theodore Roosevelt appeared in the ad, quoted supporting American home ownership.

Chronicling America, a partnership between NEH and the Library of Congress, was launched in 2007 with over 226,000 digitized newspaper pages. It is about to reach its one-millionth page. Chronicling America now includes newspapers from California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Texas, Utah, and Virginia and dating from 1880 to 1910. This long-term project will eventually include newspapers from all states and territories. It is funded through the Division of Preservation and Access with grants to institutions holding newspapers currently in the public domain.

Nominations are open for 2009 National Humanities Medalists and for the 2010 Jefferson Lecturer

NEH is accepting nominations for both the 2009 National Humanities Medalists (deadline June 26) and for the 2010 Jefferson Lecturer (deadline June 24). Nominations for both honors can be submitted online. Humanities Medalists can be institutions as well as individuals whose activities support excellence in the humanities. Nominees for the Jefferson Lectureship should be people who have made significant scholarly contributions to the humanities and who have the ability to communicate the knowledge and wisdom of the humanities in a broadly appealing way.

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Edie Manza, director [about ]
202.606.8257
Kathleen Mitchell, senior program officer [ about ]
202.606.8302
Shirley Newman, program assistant [ about ]
202.606.8254
Dwan Reece, senior program officer [ about ]
202.606.8266

visit www.neh.gov to keep up with the
National Endowment for the Humanities

Federal/State Partnership is the liaison between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the nonprofit network of 56 state and jurisdictional humanities councils