NEH Timeline

How NEH has fostered the humanities


Three scholarly and educational organizations--the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the Council of Graduate Schools in America, and the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa--co-sponsor the establishment of a National Commission on the Humanities and instruct the Commission to conduct a study of "the state of the humanities in America." Barnaby Keeney, President of Brown University, is chair.


In April, the commission releases a report recommending "the establishment by the President and the Congress of the United States of a National Humanities Foundation."

In August, Congressman William Moorhead of Pennsylvania proposes legislation to implement the Commission's recommendations.

In a speech at Brown University on the importance of federal support for higher education, President Johnson lends his support.


In March, Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island introduces the Johnson Administration's legislation to establish a National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities.

On September 29, President Johnson signs the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965, establishing the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) as separate, independent agencies. He selects Barnaby Keeney, who headed the original commission, to become the first NEH chairman. While Keeney completes the academic year at Brown, Henry Allen Moe, President of the American Philosophical Society, is interim chairman. The agency's first home is 1800 G Street, NW, in a building largely occupied by the National Science Foundation.


In January, President Johnson appoints the first twenty-six members of the National Council on the Humanities. The Council meets in June and recommends two grants: to the American Council of Learned Societies to support International Travel Grants and to the American Society of Papyrologists for a six-week training institute.

In July, Barnaby Keeney begins his four-year term as first Chairman of the Endowment.

By summer, NEH has established three operating divisions: Fellowships, Research and Publications, Education and Special Projects.


The first 157 NEH fellowships and 130 summer stipends are awarded.

The Modern Language Association receives a grant to establish the Editions of American Authors series.

Additional grants support such varied projects as publication of the collected letters of Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis and the complete works of John Dewey, an archeological exploration of the ancient Lydian city of Sardis, and compilation of The Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals.


Volume I of the Collected Writings of Walt Whitman and the first volume of the Papers of Booker T. Washington are published as a result of NEH support for the Editions of American Authors series.

The Kyrenia Ship Project uncovers the oldest known ancient Greek merchant vessel from the Mediterranean and the University of Texas conducts an archeological excavation of the ancient Greek city of Corinth.


The Endowment establishes two new program divisions out of the former Division of Education and Special Projects: Education Programs and Public Programs.

A grant to the University of Virginia supports a project to complete the first comprehensive edition of The Papers of George Washington.

With NEH research funding, Dumas Malone completes volume I of his magisterial biography, Jefferson and His Time.

NEH and NEA move to the GSA Building at 1800 F St., NW.


The thirteen-part BBC television series, Civilization, spanning 1,600 years of Western culture, is distributed free to 2,000 colleges and universities across the United States.

High school students conducting the NEH-funded Foxfire magazine project record Appalachian oral history and culture in the mountains of Georgia.

In July, Barnaby Keeney completes his term as Chairman; Wallace Edgerton, Deputy NEH Chairman, becomes Acting Chairman.


NEH provides funds for six experimental state-based humanities programs: in Georgia, Maine, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Wyoming. By 1979, there is a citizen-governed humanities council in each of the 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. By 1994, humanities councils have been added in U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Northern Marianas, and American Samoa.

NEH and NEA move to the Shoreham Building at 806 15th Street, N.W.

Funding begins for the Dictionary of American Regional English.

A new edition of Walden is published.

In December, Ronald Berman, professor of English at University of California at San Diego, becomes Chairman.


Writer and literary critic Lionel Trilling delivers the first Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, "Mind and the Modern World," in Washington, D.C.

NEH provides major support for the Library of Congress's Cataloguing in Publication program. As a result of this effort, Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data now appear on the reverse of the title page of most domestically published books.

Endowment begins support for the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) to facilitate and administer collaborative humanities research and exchanges between American scholars and the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

NEH support for ACLS Grants-in-Aid begins.


In the first exchange of its kind, forty-one impressionist and postimpressionist masterpieces from the Soviet Union go tour the U.S. accompanied by interpretative materials funded by NEH.

The Summer Seminars for College Teachers program makes its first twenty-one awards.

Courses by Newspaper, a college-level humanities series on America and the Future of Man, begins newspaper distribution in 263 American cities and on U.S. military bases in Europe.

The BBC/Time-Life adaptation of War and Peace is telecast in the United States with NEH support.

NEH begins support for ACLS Research Fellowships for Recent Recipients of the Ph.D.

NEH begins a collaboration with the National Science Foundation, the Science, Technology, and Human Values program.

Psychoanalyst and child psychologist Erik Erikson delivers the second Jefferson Lecture, "Dimensions of the New Identity."


NEH supports the establishment of the Yale-New Haven Teacher Institute with an initial grant of $2.8 million. The Institute becomes a national model for partnerships between a university and nearby public schools.

The Endowment begins support for American centers of advanced study in the United States and abroad.

More than 350,000 see the exhibition "Masterpieces of Tapestry" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Volume I of The Papers of John Marshall is published.

Funding begins for the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae and The Frederick Douglass Papers.

The Bay Area Writing Project is launched at the University of California, Berkeley. With additional NEH support, it becomes the National Writing Project.

Writer, poet, scholar Robert Penn Warren delivers the third Jefferson Lecture, "Democracy and Poetry."


In Kansas City and San Francisco, more than a million people see "Archaeological Treasures from the People's Republic of China," an exhibition of objects dating from prehistory to the fourteenth century.

Dumas Malone wins a Pulitzer Prize for Jefferson and His Time, Volumes I-V.

Funding begins on the Jane Addams Papers.

More than 380,000 people see "From the Lands of the Sythians: Archaeological Treasures from the Museums of the USSR, 3000-100 B.C." at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

In advance of the American bicentennial celebration, the American Issues Forum is begun, a series of debates examining the rights of individuals, obligations of society, the work ethic, and the effects of urbanization.

Funding begins for The Encyclopedia of Islam.

Constitutional law professor Paul Freund delivers fourth Jefferson Lecture, "Liberty of Expression: The Search for Standards."


The Adams Chronicles, a thirteen-part TV series following the history of a famous American family from 1750 to 1900, receives four Emmy awards and is viewed by five million each week.

The States and the Nation, a 52-volume series of state histories, is published in honor of the U.S. Bicentennial. Each of the fifty states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia is represented by a volume produced by a distinguished author.

"The Treasures of Tutankhamun" exhibition opens in Washington, D.C., to a record-breaking crowd of five million, before moving to Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Seattle, and New York.

Funding begins for The Hittite Dictionary and The Assyrian Dictionary.

The Atlas of Early American History is published.

Funding begins for humanities programs in senior centers developed by the National Council on the Aging.

R.W.B. Lewis receives a Bancroft Prize for Edith Wharton: A Biography, written with an NEH research grant.

Historian John Hope Franklin presents the fifth Jefferson Lecture, "Racial Equality in America." The lecture is delivered in Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.


In January, Ronald Berman resigns and Robert Kingston, Deputy Chairman of NEH, becomes Acting Chairman.

A separate Division of State Programs is established to provide federal support for the state humanities councils.

Funding begins for the fellowship programs of the Committee on Scholarly Communication with China and for ACLS/SSRC (Social Science Research Council) International Postdoctoral Fellowships.

A grant to David Van Tassel of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland supports Regional History Day 1978. With additional NEH support, it becomes National History Day.

A new Challenge Grants program awards $19.1 million in matching grants that leverage $3 in contributions for each federal dollar.

NEH fellowship recipient Paul Fussell receives a National Book Award for The Great War and Modern Memory.

The American Short Story series begins on public television.

Novelist Saul Bellow delivers the sixth Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, "The Writer and His Country Look Each Other Over," in Washington, D.C. and Chicago.

In October, Joseph Duffey, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural affairs, becomes NEH Chairman.


The Scarlet Letter, an NEH-supported, four-part adaptation of the Hawthorne classic, is broadcast nationally on public television.

"Pompeii A.D. 79," an exhibition of arts and artifacts from the Roman city buried by the volcanic eruption of Vesuvius, tours four cities. During its Boston stay, it draws 432,000 visitors.

Mexico Today, the first of five international cultural symposia, opens in Washington before touring six other cities in the United States. Today symposia on Japan, Belgium, Egypt, and Scandinavia follow.

The Encyclopedia of Bioethics and the final volume of Byron's Letters and Journals are published.

Funding begins for the Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary and the Cambridge History of China.

Historian C. Vann Woodward presents the seventh Jefferson Lecture, "Europe's America," in Washington, D.C. and Seattle.


Funding begins for the The Coptic Encyclopedia, and the Encyclopedia Iranica.

Funding begins for the English Short Title Catalogue, a database of all English-language books published from 1473-1801.

Heartland, the prize-winning dramatic film about turn-of-the-century life on the prairie, airs.

Don E. Fehrenbacher's The Dred Scott Case: Its Significance in American Law and Politics, written with the help of an NEH fellowship, wins the Pulitzer Prize.

Richard Beale Davis's three-volume Intellectual Life in the Colonial South, supported by an NEH fellowship, wins the National Book Award.

The Endowment establishes a program to support humanities programs in public libraries and launches an American Social History Initiative.

Sociologist Edward Shils delivers the eighth Jefferson Lecture, "Government and Universities in the United States," in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Austin.


Funding begins for the Middle English Dictionary, a comprehensive historical reference on the development of the English language from 1100-1500.

"The Great Bronze Age of China," the first comprehensive exhibition of Chinese artifacts from seventeenth to the second centuries B.C., opens in New York and then travels to Chicago, Fort Worth, Los Angeles, and Boston.

The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter, a documentary on women who worked in defense factories during World War II, airs.

The Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center in Claremont, California, receives a grant to make archival quality photographs of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Work begins on a modern annotated edition of the journals of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

NEH fellow Robert Dallek wins a Bancroft Prize for Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945.

Historian Barbara Tuchman presents the ninth Jefferson Lecture, "Mankind's Better Moments," in Washington, D.C. and London.


Francis Steegmuller's NEH-supported translation of The Letters of Gustave Flaubert, 1830-1857, wins the American Book Award for Translation.

The first volume of The Journals of Henry David Thoreau is published.

The Vermont Humanities Council pioneers humanities-based reading and discussion programs in public libraries.

The North Dakota's Humanities Council's history-based tent show is expanded into the four-state Great Plains Chautauqua.

Funding begins for A History of Cartography.

Historian of science Gerald Holton presents the tenth Jefferson Lecture, "Where is Science Taking Us?," in Washington, D.C. and Boston.

President Reagan establishes a Presidential Task Force on the Arts and the Humanities and charges it with "developing ideas to stimulate increased private giving for cultural activities." The Task Force recommends continuing the existing NEH and NEA structures.

In December, President Reagan appoints William J. Bennett, President and Director of the National Humanities Center in North Carolina, as Chairman of NEH.


The U.S. Newspaper Program is established to support projects in each state to inventory, catalogue, and preserve on microfilm newspapers published since 1690.

The Endowment launches a Summer Seminars for Secondary School Teachers program.

NEH supports implementation of the Brooklyn College core curriculum.

After drawing more than two million people, the Folger Shakespeare Library's exhibition, "Shakespeare: The Globe and the World," ends its ten-city tour.

The first four volumes of the Library of America are published.

Ken Burns's film, The Brooklyn Bridge, wins a Golden Eagle and an American Film Festival blue ribbon.

"El Greco of Toledo," an exhibition of paintings by the sixteenth-century Spanish master, travels to Washington, D.C., Dallas, and Toledo, Ohio.

Archaeologist Emily Townsend Vermeule presents the eleventh Jefferson Lecture, "Greeks and Barbarians: The Classical Experience in the Larger World."

The Endowment announces a $5 million special Challenge Grants initiative for independent research libraries.


The first volume in The Works of Giuseppe Verdi is published, and the Vienna Staatsoper presents a performance of Rigoletto based on the corrected score.

The first volumes of The Coptic Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Islam are published, and funding begins for the Encyclopedia of Asian History and the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium.

The Endowment establishes the Younger Scholars and Travel to Collections programs.

Stanley Karnow's thirteen-part Vietnam: A Television History is broadcast.

Funding begins for The American Film Institute Catalog.

Historian of religion Jaroslav Pelikan delivers the twelfth Jefferson Lecture, "The Vindication of Tradition," in Washington and Chicago.

The Endowment establishes the Office of the Bicentennial to coordinate a special initiative commemorating the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution.

The Endowment moves from the Shoreham building into the renovated Old Post Office at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.


Heritage: Civilization and the Jews, a nine-part documentary series narrated by Abba Eban, is broadcast nationally on PBS.

The Vermont Humanities Council's innovative reading-and-discussion program, Let's Talk About It, is adopted by the American Library Association and expanded nationally.

The exhibition, "The Sun King: Louis XIV and the New World," debuts in Louisiana before traveling the country.

Funding begins for the Dartmouth Dante Project, a computerized database of commentary written about The Divine Comedy in the six centuries following Dante's death.

Volume I of The Brownings' Correspondence is published.

Philosopher Sidney Hook delivers the thirteenth Jefferson Lecture, "The Humanities and the Defense of The Free Society," in Washington and New York.

In November, NEH publishes William Bennett's To Reclaim a Legacy: A Report on the Humanities in Higher Education.

"German Expressionist Sculpture," organized by the Los Angeles Museum of Art, attracts 1.9 million visitors to the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.


The Stone Carvers, a film supported by the Humanities Council of Washington D.C., wins an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.

The Endowment establishes an Office of Preservation to help save the content of deteriorating humanities resources in the nation's libraries.

In February, William Bennett resigns as NEH Chairman to become U.S. Secretary of Education, and NEH Deputy Chairman John Agresto becomes Acting Chairman.

"The Age of Caravaggio: The Baroque Period in 17th Century Italy" tours the country.

Written with NEH support, Peter Gay's The Bourgeois Experience: Victoria to Freud, Vol. I and Robert Bellah's Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life are published to critical and popular acclaim.

The first volumes of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin and of Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867 are published.

Literary scholar Cleanth Brooks delivers the fourteenth Jefferson Lecture, "Literature in a Technological Age," in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans.


Funding begins for a four-volume edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

President Reagan proclaims the week of February 9-15 as National Humanities Week in honor of the Endowment's twentieth anniversary.

Philosopher Leszek Kolakowski delivers the fifteenth Jefferson Lecture, The Idolatry of Politics, in Washington, D.C. and Chicago.

In June, Lynne V. Cheney, writer, editor, and former college teacher, becomes Chairman of NEH.

The Folger Institute Center for Shakespeare Studies receives initial funding for seminars and institutes on Renaissance studies for high school and college teachers.

NEH fellow Elizabeth Frank wins a Pulitzer Prize for Louise Bogan: A Portrait.

Ken Burns's The Life and Times of Huey Long and David Macauley's Cathedral air on PBS.

Popul Vuh, an NEH-funded translation of the Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life, wins the PEN Translation Prize for Poetry.

The final volumes of The Papers of William Penn and The Complete Works of St. Thomas More are published.


The Endowment's special Bicentennial Bookshelf initiative awards $500 matching grants to 848 public libraries to purchase books about the U.S. Constitution.

The exhibition, "William Wordsworth and the Age of English Romanticism," tours New York, Chicago, and Indianapolis.

Volume I of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein is published.

Historian Bernard Bailyn wins the Pulitzer Prize for Voyagers to the West: A Passage in the Peopling of America on the Eve of the Revolution, written with the support of an NEH research grant.

Historian Forrest McDonald delivers the sixteenth Jefferson Lecture, "The Intellectual World of the Founding Fathers," in Washington, D.C. and Lawrence, Kansas.

"Miracle at Philadelphia," an exhibition commemorating the Bicentennial of the Constitution, opens in Philadelphia.

In August, the Endowment publishes Lynne V. Cheney's American Memory: A Report on the Humanities in the Nation's Schools.


With an increased appropriation of $8 million the Endowment launches of a twenty-year brittle books preservation plan to microfilm three million endangered volumes.

The NEH/Readers Digest Teacher-Scholar program begins with cosponsorship of the DeWitt Wallace Foundation.

Eric Foner receives the Bancroft Prize for Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877, written with the support of an NEH fellowship.

Voices and Visions, a thirteen-part television series and college course on American poetry, airs.

Funding begins for the Text Encoding Initiative, an effort to develop standard guidelines for formating electronic texts, and American National Biography.

NEH fellow James M. McPherson wins a Pulitzer Prize for his one-volume history of the Civil War, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era.

The Vermont Council on the Humanities receives a grant for The Family Reading Project, a children's literature reading and discussion series for parents enrolled in adult literacy programs. The North Carolina Humanities Council begins funding for MOTHEREAD, a literacy program for parents and their children. NEH grants follow.

Professor of political and social thought Robert Nisbet delivers the seventeenth Jefferson Lecture, "The Present Age and the State of Community."

In September, the Endowment publishes Lynne V. Cheney's Humanities in America: A Report to the President, the Congress, and the American People.


NEH helps bring two major exhibitions to the United States: "Goya and the Spirit of Enlightenment" from Madrid's Prado Museum and "Nomads: Masters of the Eurasian Steppe" from the Soviet Union. "Nomads" was the largest archaeological-ethnographic exhibition ever to travel from the Soviet Union.

An innovative program at St. Olaf College in Minnesota integrates foreign language instruction into undergraduate courses across the curriculum.

The Endowment establishes two programs: the National Heritage Preservation program within the Office of Preservation to stabilize material culture collections and the Distinguished Teaching Professorship competition to award Challenge Grants that endow faculty chairs.

The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture is published.

Volume I of The Papers of Thomas A. Edison and the final volume of The Papers of Daniel Webster are published.

Pyramid, an animated version of David Macaulay's book, airs on PBS.

Archaeologist Arthur Demarest investigates warfare among the classic Maya with an NEH research grant.

Writer Walker Percy delivers the eighteenth Jefferson Lecture, "The Fateful Rift: The San Andreas Fault in the Modern Mind."

In October, the Endowment publishes Lynne V. Cheney's 50 Hours: A Core Curriculum for College Students.

In November, NEH announces the first recipients of the Charles Frankel Prize: Patricia Bates, Daniel Boorstin, Willard Boyd, Clay Jenkinson, and Americo Paredes.


Ken Burns's documentary series, The Civil War, attracts twelve million public television viewers and wins an Emmy.

NEH fellow and summer stipend recipient Laurel T. Ulrich wins a Pulitzer Prize and a Bancroft Prize for A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812.

The exhibition, "Mexico: Splendors of Thirty Centuries," is seen by 1.4 million in New York, before traveling to San Antonio and Los Angeles.

Historian Bernard Lewis delivers the nineteenth Jefferson Lecture, "Western Civilization: A View from the East," in Washington, D.C. and Stanford, California.

In May, Lynne V. Cheney begins a second four-year term as NEH Chairman.

NEH honors the second group of Charles Frankel Prize recipients: Mortimer Adler, Henry Hampton, Bernard Knox, David Van Tassel, and Ethyle Wolfe.

In November, the Endowment publishes Lynne V. Cheney's Tyrannical Machines: A Report on Educational Practices Gone Wrong and Our Best Hopes for Setting Them Right.


The seven-part documentary series, Columbus and the Age of Discovery, airs on public television.

LBJ, a four-part documentary series on the life of President Lyndon Baines Johnson, airs on "The American Experience."

"Degenerate Art: The Fate of the Avant Garde in Nazi Germany" opens in Los Angeles, then travels to Chicago, Washington, and Berlin. The International Art Critics Association names it "Best Show of the Year 1991."

An NEH-supported translation of Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamozov receives the PEN Translation Prize.

Historian Gertrude Himmelfarb delivers the twentieth Jefferson Lecture, "Of Heroes, Villains, and Valets."

In May, the Endowment publishes Lynne V. Cheney's National Tests: What Other Countries Expect Their Students to Know.

The Endowment establishes the Study Grants within the Office of Preservation to stabilize material culture collections and the Distinguished Teaching Professorship competition to award Challenge Grants that endow faculty chairs.

In November, NEH announced the second recipients of the Charles Frankel Prize: Winton Blount, Ken Burns, Louise Cowan, Karl Haas, and John Tchen.


The task of reviewing Challenge Grant proposals is distributed among three program divisions.

With NEH support, "Seeds of Change," a major Smithsonian Institution exhibition marking the five-hundredth anniversary of Columbus's first voyage to the New World, begins a tour of sixty cities throughout the United States.

The first volume of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. is published.

Classical scholar Bernard Knox delivers the twenty-first Jefferson Lecture, "The Oldest Dead White European Males."

NEH awards $1 million in emergency funding for museums, libraries, and other cultural institutions damaged by hurricanes in the Southeast and in Hawaii.

"The Worlds of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello" attracts more 600,000 visitors over its seven-month run.

In September, the Endowment publishes Lynne V. Cheney's Telling the Truth: A Report on the State of the Humanities in Higher Education.

NEH honors the fourth group of Charles Frankel Prize recipients: Allan Bloom, Shelby Foote, Richard Rodriquez, Harold Skramstad, Jr., and Eudora Welty.


The Great Depression, Henry Hampton's seven-part, NEH-supported documentary series airs on PBS and wins an Emmy.

NEH awards sixty-one small grants for research in the archives of the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere.

In January, Lynne V. Cheney resigns as NEH Chairman; Jerry L. Martin, the Endowment's Assistant Chairman for Programs and Policy, becomes Acting Chairman.

In April, President Clinton nominates Sheldon Hackney, president of the University of Pennsylvania, as Chairman of NEH; Donald Gibson, Director of NEH's Division of Public Programs, becomes Acting Chairman.

The first NEH Dissertation Grants are awarded to doctoral students in the humanities.

NEH begins two humanities initiatives about science: the Leadership Opportunity in Science and Humanities Education and Nature, Technology, and Human Understanding. The National Science Foundation and the Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) are partners.

Historian Robert Conquest delivers the twenty-second Jefferson Lecture, "History, Humanity, and Truth."

In August, Sheldon Hackney becomes NEH Chairman.

The Endowment makes available $1 million in emergency funds for museums, libraries, schools, and other cultural institutions in the Midwest to recover from damage caused by record flooding.

President Clinton declares October 1993 "National Arts and Humanities Month."

In October, the Endowment honors the fifth group of Charles Frankel Prize recipients: Ricardo Alegria, John Hope Franklin, Hanna H. Gray, Andrew Heiskell, and Laurel T. Ulrich.

"The Age of Rubens" exhibition opens in Boston, then travels to the Toledo Museum of Art, where it draws the largest attendance of any exhibition in the museum's history.


The Endowment launches A National Conversation on American Pluralism and Identity.

NEH fellow Joan Hedrick's Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life wins a Pulitzer Prize.

Poet Gwendolyn Brooks delivers the twenty-third Jefferson Lecture, "Family Pictures."

Ken Burns's thirteen-hour series, Baseball, is seen by more than forty-three million and wins an Emmy.

In October, NEH honors the sixth group of Charles Frankel Prize recipients: Ernest Boyer, William Kittredge, Peggy Whitman Prenshaw, Sharon Percy Rockefeller, and Dorothy Porter Wesley.

"Louis Armstrong: A Cultural Legacy" opens at the Queens Museum of Art before traveling to Dallas, Chicago, Rochester, Charleston, New Orleans, Savannah, and Washington, D.C.

FDR, a four-part film documentary of the life of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is seen by more than ten million on "The American Experience" and wins a George Foster Peabody Award.


In January, NEH programs are restructured: parts of the Fellowships and Seminars divisions are merged with the Research and Education divisions, Challenge Grants are again administered by a separate office; and the Federal/State Partnership is created.

In The Republic of Letters: The Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, 1776-1826, 1,200 surviving letters exchanged by the two Founders are published together for the first time.

The Endowment publishes Lasting Values in a Disposable World, a major speech delivered by Sheldon Hackney at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco.

The Gate of Heavenly Peace, Richard Gordon and Carma Hinton's three-hour documentary about the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement and its violent repression, opens at the New York Film Festival.

Architectural historian Vincent Scully gives the twenty-fourth Jefferson Lecture, "The Architecture of Community."

NEH joins the Voice of America to sponsor a nationwide essay contest for high school students.

In October, NEH honors the seventh group of Charles Frankel Prize recipients: William Ferris, Charles Kuralt, David Macaulay, David McCullough, and Bernice Johnson Reagon.

Congress approves a 36-percent funding reduction for the Endowment in fiscal year 1996.

In December, the Endowment is again restructured: the remaining five program divisions are consolidated into three and thirty-one programs into nine; an Office of Enterprise is created; and staffing is reduced by 38 percent.


NEH launches a three-year Teaching with Technology initiative.

Funding begins for Girls Dig It, an after-school program in urban archaeology for early adolescent girls.

Meetings of the National Council on the Humanities are reduced from four to three.

David Herbert Donald's biography of Lincoln, written with NEH support, becomes a best-seller.

An early seventeenth-century fort is uncovered by archaeologists at Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America.

Alan Taylor, a recipient of an NEH Centers fellowship, wins the Pulitzer Prize for William Cooper's Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic.

NEH begins a three-year partnership with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support humanities fellowships at advanced study in the humanities.

Three major NEH-supported film series dominate PBS's fall programming line-up: More than thirty-eight million viewers see The West, while The Great War and the Shaping of the Twentieth Century and T.R.: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt both win Emmys.

"Splendors of Imperial China" draws 426,000 visitors during its New York showing, making it the world's most popular exhibition in 1996.

Writer Toni Morrison delivers the twenty-fifth Jefferson Lecture, "The Future of Time."

NEH honors the eighth group of Charles Frankel Prize recipients: Rita Dove, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Daniel Kemmis, Arturo Madrid, and Bill Moyers.


Liberty! The American Revolution, a six-part series on birth of the American Republic, is seen by fifteen million.

NEH fellow Jack N. Rakove's Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution wins a Pulitzer Prize.

The Endowment publishes a special report to Congress, NEH in the Digital Age.

The Endowment publishes Sheldon Hackney's One America Indivisible, a report on the Endowment's National Conversation on American Pluralism and Identity.

In September, Sheldon Hackney steps down at the conclusion of his four-year term. Bruce A. Lehman, Assistant Secretary and Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks at the Department of Commerce, is Acting Chairman of NEH; Endowment Deputy Chairman, Juan Mestas, manages day-to-day operations of the agency.

Philosopher Stephen Toulmin delivers twenty-sixth Jefferson Lecture, "A Dissenter's Story."

In September, President Clinton presents the first National Humanities Medals to Nina M. Archabal, David A. Berry, Richard J. Franke, William Friday, Don Henley, Maxine Hong Kingston, Luis Leal, Martin E. Marty, Paul Mellon, and Studs Terkel. The medal replaces the Charles Frankel Prize.

In October, EDSITEment, a new meta-website for teachers and students developed in partnership with Worldcom Foundation and the Council of Great City Schools, is launched.

In November, William R. Ferris, Director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and professor of anthropology at the University of Mississippi, becomes the seventh Chairman of NEH.


In November, President Clinton presents National Humanities Medals to the second group of awardees: Stephen Ambrose, E. L. Doctorow, Diana Eck, Nancye Brown Gaj, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Vartan Gregorian, Ramon Eduardo Ruiz, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and Garry Wills.

As part of the three-year Schools for a New Millennium initiative, twenty grants are awarded to develop innovative projects to integrate technology into classroom instruction.

The sesquicentennial exhibition, "Gold Fever: The Lure and Legacy of the California Gold Rush," opens at the Oakland Museum of California, then moves to Los Angeles and Sacramento.

During the fall, Africans in America and the Emmy-winning The U.S.-Mexican War, 1846-1848 air on PBS.

The 90-minute documentary, Paralyzing Fear: The Story of Polio in America, wins an Emmy.

Historian Bernard Bailyn delivers twenty-seventh Jefferson Lecture, "To Begin the World Anew."

NEH funding begins for the Digital Library Initiative, and interagency effort led by the National Science Foundation that supports research on ways to digitize collections in the sciences, the humanities, and medicine.

African-American Newspapers and Periodicals: A National Bibliography and The Oxford History of the British Empire, Vol. 1 are published.

Intra-agency working groups are established to examine the Endowment's achievements and opportunities in five programmatic areas: regional America; teaching and lifelong learning; humanities, science, and technology; humanities in an international context; and extending the reach of NEH programs.


The Sources of Chinese Tradition, a revised and expanded version of an authoritative anthology much used in undergraduate survey courses, is published.

Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 by Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace wins a Pulitzer Prize. Wallace's research was supported with an NEH fellowship.

President Clinton presents National Humanities Medals to the third group of awardees: Patricia M. Battin, Taylor Branch, Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, Garrison Keillor, Jim Lehrer, John Rawls, Steven Spielberg, and August Wilson.

NEH launches an initiative to develop ten regional humanities centers throughout the United States.

Historian Caroline Walker Bynum delivers the twenty-eighth Jefferson Lecture, "Shape and Story: Metamorphosis in the Western Tradition."

NEH launches the My History is America's History website and guidebook. Developed in partnership with the White House Millennium Council, the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and private funders, the nation-wide initiative invites Americans to discover the connections between family stories and U.S. history.

New York, a ten-hour documentary history of New York City, is broadcast.

NEH joins NEA and the Institute of Museum and Library Services to recommend recipients of Save America's Treasures grants. The program to protect threatened cultural resources is a public-private partnership of the White House Millennium Council, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the National Park Service.


Pulitzer Prizes are awarded to Stacy Schiff for Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) and to David M. Kennedy for Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-45. Schiff's work was supported with an NEH fellowship; Kennedy's with an NEH Centers fellowship.

Eleanor Roosevelt, a two-and-one-half-hour film biography of the famous first lady, airs as part of "The American Experience."

NEH launches Extending the Reach, an agency-wide initiative to make the Endowment's programs more accessible to regions and audiences that have been served less effectively than others.

NEH and its partners, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Library of America, and the American Library Association, launch a National Public Library Initiative. The $1 million Carnegie gift allows more than 800 libraries to receive fifty volumes of the Library of America.

The Endowment and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting jointly award funding for seven projects to develop digitally enhanced educational programs for television.

Historian James M. McPherson delivers the twenty-ninth Jefferson Lecture, "For a Vast Future Also: Lincoln and the Millennium."

President Clinton presents National Humanities Medals to the fourth group of awardees: Robert Bellah, Will Davis Campbell, Judy Crichton, David C. Driskell, Ernest J. Gaines, Herman T. Guerrero, Quincy Jones, Barbara Kingsolver, Toni Morrison, Edmund S. Morgan, Earl Shorris, and Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve.


Playwright Arthur Miller delivers the 30th Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, “On Politics and the Art of Acting.”

In December art historian Bruce Cole is sworn in as the eighth chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.



Harvard professor and cultural critic Henry Louis Gates, Jr., delivers the 31st Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, “Mr. Jefferson and the Trials of Phillis Wheatley.”

In a September ceremony at the White House, President George W. Bush launches We the People, an NEH initiative to encourage the teaching, studying, and understanding of American history and culture.


Historian Robert V. Remini delivers the first Heroes of History Lecture in Washington, D.C.

An essay by high school student Morghan Transue of Kendall Park, New Jersey, on the landmark Supreme Court decision Marbury v. Madison receives the grand prize in the first NEH “Idea of America” Essay Contest.

Historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough delivers the 32nd Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, “The Course of Human Events.”

As part of the Endowment's We the People initiative, NEH issues its first We the People Bookshelf, a list of recommended books for young readers (K-12) on the theme of “courage,” with plans to offer complete sets of the 15 books to more than 500 libraries across the nation.

In July NEH announces a special initiative, “Recovering Iraq's Past,” to support projects to preserve and document cultural resources in Iraq's archives, libraries, and museums.

President Bush presents National Humanities Medals to Robert Ballard, Joan Ganz Cooney, Midge Decter, Joseph Epstein, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Jean Fritz, Hal Holbrook, Edith Kurzweil, Frank M. Snowden, Jr., and John Updike.


Early in the year, NEH announces the first “Landmarks of American History” teacher workshops to be held at 17 historic and cultural sites across the United States. As part of the Endowment's We the Peopleinitiative, these residence-based, week-long workshops bring school teachers together with scholars for a week of intensive study on history and literature associated with each historic site.

Helen Vendler, author of numerous books on poets and poetry and a professor at Harvard University, delivers the 33rd Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, “The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar.”

NEH announces the second We the People Bookshelf, a new set of classic books for young readers (K-12) on the theme of “freedom.”

Harold Holzer, a prolific writer and lecturer and one of the nation's leading authorities on the Civil War era, delivers the second “Heroes of History Lecture” in October at historic Ford's Theatre in Washington.

Rachel Shafer, a 16-year-old home-schooled student from Longmont, Colorado, is named Grand Prize winner of the second NEH “Idea of America” Essay Contest.


Donald Kagan, Sterling Professor of Classics and History at Yale University and author of numerous books and articles on Greek history and international relations, delivers the 34th Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, “In Defense of History.”

NEH and the Library of Congress announce the first grants in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a new, long-term effort to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of U.S. newspapers now in the public domain. Two-year projects in California, Florida, Kentucky, New York, Utah, and Virginia receive support to digitize thousands of pages of each state's most historically significant newspapers published between 1900 and 1910.

NEH and the National Science Foundation announce fellowships and institutional grants in a new inter-agency partnership, “Documenting Endangered Languages,” a multi-year effort to preserve records of key languages before they become extinct.

The Endowment announces a new agency-wide initiative, “Rediscovering Afghanistan,” to promote research, education, and public programs about Afghan history and culture.

In response to the extensive damages caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita along the Gulf Coast, NEH makes available $2 million for emergency grants to libraries, museums, colleges, universities, and other cultural and historical institutions affected by the hurricanes.

In September NEH begins a year-long celebration of the agency'’s 40th anniversary with a reception and program at the National Gallery of Art. Vice President Richard B. Cheney and Lynne V. Cheney attend the event and provide brief remarks to the estimated 500 dignitaries, donors, and cultural leaders and supporters assembled at the Gallery.

Author, scholar, and former college president Josiah Bunting III delivers the third “Heroes of History Lecture” in Washington, D.C.

Carmiel "Carmi" Schickler, a 17-year-old student from Port Washington, New York, is named Grand Prize winner of the third “Idea of America” Essay Contest for high school juniors.

The U.S. Senate unanimously confirms Bruce Cole for a second term as NEH Chairman.


Tom Wolfe, the celebrated novelist and chronicler of American society, delivers the 35th Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, “The Human Beast.”

The National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services announce “Advancing Knowledge: The IMLS/NEH Digital Partnership” to help teachers, scholars, museums and libraries take advantage of developing technology.

Elise Liu, 17, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is selected as the Grand Prize winner in the national “Idea of America” Essay Contest. Chairman Cole announces the award at a special reception and dinner at the U.S. Supreme Court.


“Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers” makes its online debut with more than 226,000 pages of public domain newspapers from California, Florida, Kentucky, New York, Utah, Virginia, and the District of Columbia published between 1900 and 1910. Through a partnership between the Endowment and the Library of Congress, this online resource is available at

The Endowment awards the first Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants for projects designed to explore and develop innovative uses of technology in humanities education, scholarship, and public programming.

Harvey Mansfield, one of America's leading political scientists and a widely published author, delivers the 36th Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, “How to Understand Politics: What the Humanities Can Say to Science.”


In February at the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities launches Picturing America, an innovative program that helps teach American history and provides students with a gateway to the broader world of the humanities through a collection of of forty carefully selected works of art spanning several centuries—all by American painters, sculptors, photographers, and architects.

John Updike, Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist and internationally known author and critic, delivers the 37th annual Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, “The Clarity of Things: What Is American about American Art.”

In June NEH announces that 26,320 schools and public libraries across the nation will receive Picturing America, a program that helps teach American history and culture by bringing some of the country’s great art directly to classrooms and libraries.


In January, Bruce Cole steps down at the conclusion of his term as Chairman. Carole M. Watson is appointed Acting Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

NEH announces the first “Digging Into Data Challenge,” a competition administered by NEH in cooperation with international research agencies. The program is designed to challenge scholars to develop international partnerships and apply large-scale data analysis to humanities and social science research.

Philosopher Leon R. Kass delivers the 38th annual Jefferson Lecture, “'Looking for an Honest Man’: Reflections of an Unlicensed Humanist.”

Chronicling America, the ongoing effort sponsored by NEH and the Library of Congress to digitize and make accessible America’s historic newspapers, posts its millionth newspaper page online.

In August, former Congressman Jim Leach is sworn in as the ninth Chairman of the NEH. Chairman Leach announces a special initiative for the Endowment, focused on Bridging Cultures.

Chairman Leach launches a fifty-state “American Civility Tour” to call attention for the need for civility in public discourse.


In February, President Obama presents National Humanities Medals for 2009 to Robert Caro, Annette Gordon-Reed, David Levering Lewis, William H. McNeill, Philippe de Montebello, Albert H. Small, Theodore C. Sorensen, and Elie Wiesel.

Historian Jonathan Spence, an expert in Chinese history and culture, delivers the 39th annual Jefferson Lecture, “When Minds Met: China and the West in the Seventeenth Century.”

EDSITEment, the National Endowment for the Humanities' online repository of humanities-related teaching resources, is named among the top twenty-five “Best Websites for Teaching and Learning” by the school librarians division of the American Library Association.

NEH awards the first Bridging Cultures grants for public forums examining issues relating to the role of civility in democracy and Muslim contributions to world cultures.

In September, NEH marks the forty-fifth anniversary of the agency’s creation under the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965.

NEH announces a new Challenge Grant program specifically addressed to two-year and community colleges.

NEH and China’s Ministry of Culture host a “Bi-national Conversation on Bridging Cultures” at the University of California, Berkeley, bringing together artists, writers, historians, and political theorists of both countries to discuss how culture has influenced relations between China and the United States.

Volume I of the Autobiography of Mark Twain, supported by NEH grants, is published in November and becomes an instant best-seller.

The NEH-supported Jazz Loft Project exhibition and website is awarded the 2010 ASCAP multimedia award for outstanding coverage of music by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.


Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, by David Eltis and David Richardson based on an NEH-supported online database of records from 35,000 slaving voyages, is awarded the PROSE award for scholarly excellence by the Association of American Publishers.

In March, President Obama presents National Humanities Medals for 2010 to Daniel Aaron, Bernard Bailyn, Jacques Barzun, Wendell Berry, Roberto Gonzalez Echevarriá, Stanley Nider Katz, Joyce Carol Oates, Arnold Rampersad, Philip Roth, and Gordon S. Wood.

Commemorations of the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Civil War begin with NEH-supported traveling exhibitions on Lincoln and the Civil War, an American Experience documentary on Robert E. Lee, and an NEH We The People Bookshelf project on the theme of “a more perfect union.”

Historian and President of Harvard University Drew Gilpin Faust delivers the 40th annual Jefferson Lecture, “Telling War Stories: Reflections of a Civil War Historian.”

In May, the NEH-supported American Experience documentary Freedom Riders broadcasts nationally on the fiftieth anniversary of the 1961 Freedom Rides. Accompanying the broadcast is the 2011 Student Freedom Ride, in which forty college students are invited to participate in a re-creation of the historic civil rights protest of segregation in interstate public transportation.


In February, President Obama presents National Humanities Medals for 2011 to Kwame Anthony Appiah, John Ashbery, Robert Darnton, Andrew Delbanco, Charles Rosen, Teofilo Ruiz, Ramón Saldívar, Amartya Sen, and National History Day.

The fifth and final volume of the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), covering American regional language from Sl –Z, is published in March.  NEH support for DARE began in 1971, making it NEH’s longest continually-supported project.

Poet, essayist, and conservationist Wendell E. Berry delivers the 41st Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, “It All Turns on Affection.”

Chronicling America, the online database of historic American newspapers digitized through a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress, posts its 5 millionth page.


Director and film preservationist Martin Scorsese delivers the 42nd annual Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities on “Persistence of Vision: Reading the Language of Cinema.”

NEH concludes a national contest to design a new National Humanities Medal. A panel of judges selects a bronze medallion depicting Lady Liberty, designed by artist Paul Balan, to replace the former medal. 

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) launches in April, providing public access to over 2.4 million digital books, manuscripts, photographs, maps, and other resources, supported by major funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

In May, James A. Leach steps down as Chairman. Carole M. Watson is appointed Acting Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

In July, President Obama presents National Humanities Medals for 2012 to Edward L. Ayers, William G. Bowen, Jill Ker Conway, Natalie Zemon Davis, Frank Deford, Joan Didion, Robert D. Putnam, Marilynne Robinson, Kay Ryan, Robert B. Silvers, Anna Deavere Smith, and Camilo José Vergara.

NEH launches Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle, providing free access to NEH-funded documentary films about the history of civil rights in America.


In April, NEH launches new agency-wide Standing Together initiative to encourage humanities programs that further understanding and study of the experiences of American veterans.

Biographer Walter Isaacson delivers the 43rd annual Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities on “The Intersection of the Humanities and the Sciences.”

NEH relocates its headquarters to 400 7th Street SW, Washington, DC

In July, William D. Adams, former president of Colby College, is sworn in as the tenth Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

In July, President Obama presents National Humanities Medals for 2013 to M. H. Abrams, David Brion Davis, William Theodore de Bary, Darlene Clark Hine, Johnpaul Jones, Stanley Nelson, Diane Rehm, Anne Firor Scott, Krista Tippett, and the American Antiquarian Society.