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NEH Grantees Win Honors

Rutgers professor named MacArthur Fellow; Freedom Riders Wins Three Emmys

WASHINGTON (September 20, 2011) — Two National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grantees were recently awarded prestigious honors in their fields. Jacob Soll, a professor of history at Rutgers University, was awarded a fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation — the so-called MacArthur “genius grant,” and the documentary film Freedom Riders received three Emmy awards from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Jacob Soll, a specialist in early modern Europe, was named today one of 22 recipients of the 2011 MacArthur fellowships for his meticulous research on the origins of the modern state. In 2005, Soll was awarded a research fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to study the state-information gathering and classifying systems developed by Louis XIV’s chief minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, from which he produced The Information Master: Jean Baptiste-Colbert’s Secret State Intelligence System (University of Michigan Press, 2009.)

Freedom Riders, by filmmaker Stanley Nelson, was produced by WGBH and American Experience with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic Freedom Rides. The two-hour documentary, which aired last May on public television, tells the story of the more than 400 black and white Americans who risked violent attacks and imprisonment for traveling together on buses throughout the segregated South in the spring and summer of 1961. The film, which incorporates interviews with the riders, state and federal government officials, journalists, and historians, was based on Raymond Arsenault’s book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice.

On September 10th, Freedom Riders won 2010-2011 Creative Arts Primetime Emmy Awards in three categories at a ceremony in Los Angeles:

  • Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking
  • Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming
  • Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming

See a trailer from the film, a Humanities magazine article about the making of the documentary, and read about a screening of the film at the U.S. Capitol.

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About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

Media Contacts: Paula Wasley at (202) 606-8424 or pwasley@neh.gov