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August 2007

the latest from
Suite 603


August 14, 2007

The National Endowment for the Humanities has announced all the awards made following the July meeting of the National Council. Thirty-five councils received We the People grants, and five councils together received over $1 million in NEH funding through competitive grant categories in the Divisions of Education and Public Programs. Twenty councils received WTP grants following the May meeting of the National Council.

Three councils will carry out Landmarks in American History and Culture seminars for teachers. The Florida Humanities Council will do  Jump at the Sun: Zora Neale Hurston and Her Eatonville Roots,” the Minnesota Humanities Center's seminar is  Building America: Minnesota's Iron Range, U.S. Industrialization, and the Creation of a World Power,” and the Wyoming Humanities Council will study Women's Suffrage on the Western Frontier.

The Nebraska Humanities Council received funding for a joint project with the Kansas Humanities Council for Chautauqua programs in twelve rural counties in their two states. This chautauqua series will explore critical changes in American cultural and political life in the 1930s.

Prime Time Family Reading, an affiliate program of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, was awarded funding to support twenty bilingual family reading and discussion programs in five states.

Congratulations to all!

Debbie Watrous speaks to members of the National Council
National Book Festival
Welcome to Tom Phelps and David Skinner
... on the Fed/State website
New in the Digital Humanities

Out and About



the logon and password
for the Federal/State Partnership website:
"fedstate" & "partnership"

Debbie Watrous speaks to members of the National Council

Audience at the plenary session of the Shifting Ground conference in March

Audience at the plenary session of the Shifting Ground conference in March

Debbie Watrous, 
Executive Director of the New Hampshire Humanities Council, was invited to speak at the open session of the Federal/State Partnership subcommittee of the National Council on July 27. She spoke about the work of the New Hampshire Humanities Council and especially the Council's current initiative Shifting Ground: Religion & Civic Life in America. Debbie acknowledged the flexibility accorded to state councils to allocate NEH funds to fit the unique needs of each state. She described the work of the New Hampshire council, focusing on its primary areas of activity which include fostering civic engagement, strengthening local cultural institutions, improving the teaching of the humanities K-12, transforming lives through the humanities, and bringing the world of ideas to the citizens of New Hampshire.

Federal/State Partnership invites directors to attend one or two meetings a year in order to help inform the Committee directly about the work of the state councils. Many thanks to Debbie for her willingness to be at the meeting. She was a wonderful representative of all the state humanities councils.

National Book Festival

poster for the 2007 National Book Festival
poster for the 2007 National Book Festival

The National Book Festival, organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress and hosted by First Lady Laura Bush, will be held on Saturday, September 29, 2007, on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

The ten councils which house their state's Center for the Book may be featured at the National Book Festival.

Welcome to Tom Phelps and David Skinner

Tom Phelps, a long-time staffer in the NEH Division of Public Programs, has been appointed Director of Public Programs. Tom has been at NEH since 1980, specializing in library programs. Many councils have worked directly with him over the years. Prior to coming to NEH, Tom was Deputy Director of the Salt Lake City Public Library. He has been Acting Director of the division.

David Skinner is the new Director of the Office of Publications and editor of Humanities magazine. He comes to NEH from the Weekly Standard where he was a staff editor. His other editorial experience include Doublethink and The Public Interest. He has written for Education Next, Slate, Boston magazine, The Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications.

... on the Fed/State website

Three items have been posted on the website in the resources section.

  • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations has just released an important analysis of foundation general operating support grants. This publication is the result of a stimulating thread on the GEO listserv on the pros and cons of general operating support grants. On the one hand, state humanities councils benefit from NEH's annual general operating support grants. On the other, few councils make general operating support grants. This study reveals the range of thought about these kinds of grants in the grantmaking world.  
  • The summer issue of The Non-Profit Quarterly includes two free articles on nonprofit boards and governance issues. One, "Engagement Governance for System-Wide Decision Making," deals with new ways of looking at the composition of nonprofit boards, suggesting that, "Because nonprofits are ultimately organized to benefit their constituencies, they have a responsibility to include their primary stakeholders—their constituents—in organizational decision making."
  • The second recommended article from The Non-Profit Quarterly, is editor Ruth McCambridge's piece, "Board Stories Involving Humans." Her bottom line is that, "the dedication of each board member to the accomplishment of the mission and best interests of the organization’s constituents should be unquestionable." She offers a number of important suggestions on how this can be achieved.

New in the Digital Humanities

Electronic publishing has hit university presses. The Rice University Press, which closed in 1996, resumed operations last year with the idea of publishing "online only, using low-cost print-on-demand for those who want to hold what they are reading." According to the July 31 issue of Inside Higher Education, the books Rice will publish are those that succeeded in the peer review of other presses, but could not be published for financial reasons. "In addition, Rice University Press and Stanford University Press are planning an unusual collaboration in which Rice will be publishing a series of books reviewed by Stanford and both presses will be associated with the work."

Digitize the public humanities. Consider applying for an NEH Digital Start-Up Grant at the October 16 application deadline. Click for more on the Digital Humanities Initiative. The next Start-Up Grant deadline is October 16. The Maine Humanities Council won a DHI Start-Up Grant in the winter of 2007 for its plan to podcast its public programs.

Out and About

National Endowment for the Humanities
1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 603
Washington, DC 20506
202.606.8254, main number
202.606.8365, fax

Edie Manza, director
Kathleen Mitchell, senior program officer
Shirley Newman, program assistant
Dwan Reece, senior program officer

visit to keep up with the
National Endowment for the Humanities