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NEH & Rural America

NEH supports public programming, educational opportunities, and research for and about rural communities across the United States. Selected examples are listed below.

  • NEH’s Division of Public Programs supports numerous traveling exhibitions and library outreach programs that travel to museums and libraries across the country, serving communities in rural areas. For example, through NEH grants, the traveling exhibition Pride and Passion: The African American Baseball Experience has exhibited at the Verona Public Library in Wisconsin, the Marion Public Library in Indiana, the Aurora Public Library in Colorado, and the Kutztown University of Pennsylvania.
  • The NEH-supported Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War exhibition will travel to the Curry Public Library District in Gold Beach, Oregon, the Natrona County Public Library in Caspar, Wyoming, and the Baxter County Public Library in Arkansas. Through NEH On the Road grants, which help small sites defray the cost of hosting an NEH traveling exhibition, NEH On The Road exhibitions such as Bison, Farm Life, and Lee and Grant will travel to Youngstown, Ohio, to Hastings, Nebraska, and to Belton, Texas.
  • Through the National Digital Newspaper Program, NEH, in collaboration with the Library of Congress, has given grants to regional libraries and historical societies to enable the digitization of thousands of pages of historic newspapers from across the country printed between 1836 and 1922. Among the newspapers digitized through this program are: the Abilene Reflector and the Thomas County Cat in Kansas, the Buffalo Reflex and Missouri Herald in Missouri, and the Omaha Daily Bee and Central Star of Empire in Nebraska.
  • With a $5,000 grant, the staff at the Mountain Home Public Library in Idaho received training in how to preserve and maintain their collection of agricultural, mining and ranching artifacts as well as their maps and county records documenting the history of Idaho and the West.
  • The Timber Lake and Area Historical Society in South Dakota received a grant to preserve its 20,000-page Donna Cummings Heuschen Collection documenting the history of a single family of mixed Lakota and French Canadian heritage and its connections to the Cheyenne River Sioux reservation over a two hundred-year period.
  • The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, was awarded a grant for excavation and analysis of French eighteenth-century gravesites in southern Mississippi. A house protecting the graves was destroyed by a hurricane surge, which exposed the cemetery.
  • Alpena Community College in Michigan received a grant to conduct workshops for community college faculty on the topic Exploring American History through the Shipwrecks and Maritime Landscapes of the Great Lakes. The workshops will use discoveries at shipwreck sites in Thunder Bay to explore artifact and place-based education.
  • The Minnesota Humanities Center received a grant in 2009 for teacher workshops on the topic: Building America: Minnesota’s Iron Range, U.S. Industrialization, and the Creation of a World Power. The workshops underscored the importance of Minnesota’s underappreciated northern tier and its role in American culture and history.
  • Twenty-eight schoolteachers attended a four-week summer institute to examine the historical and cultural contexts of the expeditions of Lewis and Clark at Minot State University in North Dakota with the assistance of an NEH grant.
  • Faculty and students at Kansas State University, Manhattan, are developing an online repository of primary documents that will help preserve the history of rural Kansas communities.
  • Through the NEH’s California partner, the California Council for the Humanities, The Center for Media Change received a grant to support a series of short radio documentaries on how economic shifts and cultural trends are remaking the idea of the small rural town.
  • The New Hampshire Humanities Council dedicates a large share of the support it receives from NEH towards its Humanities To Go program, which brings a broad range of lectures and living history presentations on American history and culture to nearly 20,000 New Hampshire residents. The popular speakers’ bureau last year was responsible for 419 programs in 93 cities and towns with 156 different community partners. A full 73% of the communities served had populations under 5,000 and 18% were in towns with populations under 1,000. Often these are the only educational and cultural programs available to the residents of rural communities and to the tiny cash-strapped organizations which serve them.
  • To spur public discussion and appreciation of the experiences of American veterans, the Aquila Theatre Company received a substantial grant to give free performances of ancient Greek dramas in 100 libraries across the country, specifically targeting underserved, rural and inner city communities. The programs will use classical themes like “the returning warrior” to bring veterans and their families together with the general public for a shared experience of Greek theater followed by town hall style discussion of issues.
  • The nineteenth-century gentleman farmer’s way of life is described at the Billings Farm and Museum in Woodstock, Vermont which boasts a restored 1890 farm office and a creamery. This gateway to rural Vermont culture and the Yankee way of life is expanding its programming to include audio tours and other enhancements.
  • Historic Beverly Preservation in West Virginia received a grant to support arrangements for several exhibitions on local and regional Appalachian culture and history in a planned museum that will make use of historic buildings in the town.
  • Assisted by a grant, the Kona Historical Society, in Captain Cook, Hawaii developed interactive materials such as a living history presentation, on-site exhibitions, a publication, and a website about the Kalukalu Ranch Homestead and the nineteenth-century H. N. Greenwell General Store and Ranch, a tourist destination.