WASHINGTON (February 2, 2011) — The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) will be administering 13 of the 61 “Save America’s Treasures” grants announced Tuesday by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) and the National Park Service (NPS). The Save America’s Treasures program addresses the urgent preservation needs of the nation’s most significant historic sites and collections. The program is administered by NPS in partnership with PCAH, the National Endowment for the Arts, NEH, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
“The grants awarded today include funds to conserve, and recover the sound from, an 1878 tinfoil phonograph recording made by Thomas Edison, as well as resources to provide for the long-term preservation of digital materials documenting the events of September 11,” said NEH Chairman Jim Leach. “Save America’s Treasures ensures that future generations will have access to objects, recordings, and artifacts that define American history.”
The 61 Save America’s Treasures grant awardees will receive a total of $14.3 million in funding; the 13 grants administered by the Endowment will receive $1.9 million. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis and must be matched dollar-for-dollar with non-federal funds. Below is a list of the 13 projects supported by the NEH. [See complete NPS/PCAH list (10-page PDF) of the 61 projects.]
American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.
Reserve and Early American Bindings Collection
The American Antiquarian Society’s collection of early American imprints (pre-1876) is recognized as the most comprehensive for this period and includes the first books printed in the colonies. Funds would support conservation treatment with an emphasis on retaining the original character and physical appearance of the materials. Fragile volumes would also be housed in lignin-free clamshell boxes. ($77,557)
Arizona State Museum at the University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz.
Saving Woven Wonders of American Heritage
The Arizona State Museum at the University of Arizona cares for the most comprehensive collection of Southwest Native American woven basketry, which spans 11,000 years of archaeological history in the Southwest. The collection includes over 25,000 baskets, examples of cordage, and other perishable items representative of every culture group in the Southwest. Funds will help rehouse the collection in a climate-controlled space, which includes visitor visibility, to mitigate threats from light, temperature, humidity, insects, and abrasion. ($400,000)
Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y.
Trials Pamphlet Collection
Cornell University Library has a collection of pamphlets ranging in date from the late 1600s to the late 1800s that represent contemporary accounts of trials. These pamphlets, which were produced quickly and sold on the street soon after a trial to a mass audience as a form of entertainment and as cautionary tales, include accounts of the trials of Lizzie Borden, John Brown, and the conspirators who assassinated President Lincoln, among others. Funds will be used to conserve and digitize these significant records of American history. ($155,700)
Emory University, Atlanta, Ga.
Some thirty scrapbooks in the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory University capture visual culture of the African American experience through the eyes of vaudeville performers, former slaves, artists, students, preachers, and writers. Funding would support conservation treatment of the scrapbooks and the creation of digital surrogates to enhance access to these important historical materials. ($170,000)
Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa.
Pennsylvania German Manuscripts
The Free Library of Philadelphia holds a collection of Pennsylvania German manuscripts that document the religious, business, trade, textile, and educational practices prevalent during the 1700s and 1800s. The materials provide insight into the early American traditions that helped to shape our national identity and provide detailed accounts of everyday life in rural communities from the colonial era through the Industrial Revolution. This Save America’s Treasures grant will support conservation treatment of the manuscripts. ($200,000)
Fund for Innovative TV, Chicago, Ill.
1992 Election Documentary Collection
This project will preserve and restore a collection of documentary footage covering the 1992 American presidential election. The footage documents then-Governor Bill Clinton’s campaign, Ralph Nader, George H.W. Bush, Ross Perot and the election of Carol Mosley-Braun, the first female African American Senator. The videotapes are an unusually unstable format called Hi-8mm. A grant to the Fund for Innovative TV will support digitization and the creation of finding aids and Web access to the footage. ($79,000)
George Mason University, Fairfax, Va.
September 11 Digital Archive
No event in the 21st century has had a greater impact on contemporary American foreign policy, domestic public policy, the economy, or the cultural memory of the American people than the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The September 11 Digital Archive at George Mason University, with some 150,000 items, is the largest public collection of digital materials produced in the wake of those terrible events. Grant funds will transfer the archive to a stable, standardized, and up-to-date system to ensure long-term preservation of and access to the digital materials. ($152,769)
John F. Kennedy Library, Boston, Mass.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Collection
Considered one of the most influential First Ladies, Jacqueline Kennedy used scrapbooks to chronicle her time in the White House, and her work on the restoration of the White House and numerous other projects and events. These materials are very fragile and SAT funding will enable the John F. Kennedy Library to conserve and preserve them, allowing first-time public access to the collection, which covers the years 1960-1964. ($150,000)
Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va.
Executive Papers and Letterbooks of Gov. Thomas Jefferson
The correspondence, letters, and documents pertaining to Thomas Jefferson’s service as the second governor of Virginia, and now held by the Library of Virginia, bring to life the daily challenges faced by him and other leaders during the Revolutionary War, while drafting the Articles of Confederation, and addressing frontier relations. This Save America’s Treasures grant will facilitate the preservation and digitization of the collection, ensuring public access to these valuable materials. ($110,000)
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Wyncote, Pa.
Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan Collection
Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan (1881-1983) was the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, the only denomination of Judaism to be founded in America. His papers and correspondence with prominent leaders and scholars, such as Albert Einstein, and Martin Luther King, Jr., provide an important source on American culture and religion in the mid-20th century. Funds will be used by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College for the conservation treatment of thousands of pages of manuscripts and sermons that are at risk of loss. ($25,250)
Schenectady Museum Association, Schenectady, N.Y.
Edison Tinfoil Recording
Thomas Edison’s tinfoil recording was created on June 22, 1878 in St. Louis, Missouri. It is likely the second oldest surviving recorded voice of an American made using an Edison phonograph. Because the recording cannot be safely played, its contents are unknown. The Schenectady Museum Association will use this Save America’s Treasures grant to fund the recovery of the sound using an optical scanning process. ($25,735)
Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, Miss.
Tougaloo College Civil Rights Collections
In many ways Mississippi was the crucible of America’s Civil Rights movement. The Tougaloo College Archives has collected materials dating from the 1950s to the present that document the complex struggles for political, social, and economic equality. Funds will support the preservation and processing of eight manuscript collections of personal papers, artifacts, legal records, and audio-visual materials documenting the civil rights movement. ($213,564)
University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, Tex.
Historical Photographs from the US-Mexico Border
The University of Texas at El Paso has nearly 650,000 photographs taken by 19th and 20th century photographers from the region. El Paso was a crossroads of cultures and these photographs document its evolution from a frontier village to a modern and diverse city, illustrating its landscape and people from the arrival of the railroad in the 1880s through its economic development related to mining, manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism in the 20th century. Grant funds will stabilize, rehouse, and digitize a portion of the collection making it more accessible to scholars, journalists, teachers, students, and the public. ($141,206)