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January 2011

the latest from
Suite 603


January 24, 2011

Kojo Nnamdi
NEH's Brett Bobley appeared on WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi to talk about the digital humanities, joined by NEH grantees Dan Cohen of George Mason University and Bill Ferster of the University of Virginia. Click on the image to listen.

Check out NEH on YouTube and see the video about Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants; also catch ODH's blog
Next stop on Chairman Leach's civility tour: Montpelier, VT, 2/2
Follow us on Twitter
The Big Read application deadline, 2/1
2010-2011 insurance policies
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"A Call for Humanity" from the Arizona Humanities Council

The Arizona Humanities Council's January e-newsletter opened with this piece:

" We are deeply disheartened by the events of the past week, but only more resolved in our mission to bring the people of Arizona together. The Arizona Humanities Council was founded nearly forty years ago on the premise that we all have something to contribute. We believed then, and we still believe now that the way to build a just and civil society is by creating opportunities to explore our shared human experience through discussion, learning and reflection. There can be no democracy, there can be no equality, there can be no civility, without appreciation and respect for humanity. No one is too young or too old to learn how to speak without shouting, to listen without judging. We can solve problems together if we join arms, not raise fists, when differences of opinion collide. Ironically Representative Gabrielle Giffords foreshadowed the urgency of this message in a letter to us in November 2009:

'Yours is a critical mission…to encourage respect for diverse points of view, listening with an open mind, and speaking with integrity. These are principles that should be used by all of us in public office and should guide citizens' involvement with their government.'

She recognized that ultimately we have more in common than sets us apart. Our state, our nation, and our world needs compassionate and thoughtful people from all sides to embrace, protect and preserve humanities work here and beyond for our greater good. Please join us in our mission. Our future depends on it."

"Dear Jim, see what you started?"

This is the way Utah Humanities Council executive director Cynthia Buckingham opened an email to NEH Chairman Jim Leach telling him about the launch of Utah's Civility and Community 2011 initiative. Cynthia introduced Lt. Governor Greg Bell and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker before the press conference introducing the initiative. Both Bell and Becker had had conversations with Jim when he visited Utah last spring on his 50-state civility tour. Since that visit, the Utah Humanities Council has worked with John Kesler, founder and president of the Salt Lake Center for Engaging Community to spread the civility message. Other links to the event: Deseret News and KSL-TV.

This week the Illinois Humanities Council begins its four-part forum on The (Un)common Good. As the Council describes this series, it will "bring together scholars, artists, writers, journalists and audience members across political perspectives to discuss contemporary issues in ways that are passionate, yet thoughtful and respectful." The series will ask "the big questions we don't often get to talk about. What should be the role of government? Should there be any limits to freedom? What do we owe each other?"

Programs for older audiences

Councils have traditionally been concerned that the demographic their programs attract is well-educated, financially comfortable women aged fifty and up. Surprisingly, though, few councils have developed or funded many programs specifically for older audiences. Here are examples of some council programs that do target seniors.

Mass Humanities has supported Five Colleges Learning in Retirement and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities has awarded funding to the Princeton Senior Resource Center. The councils in Georgia, Ohio, and Rhode Island have supported the recording of oral histories of World War II veterans. Funded by the Alaska Humanities Forum, the Alaska Statehood Exhibit at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage features touchscreen videos of Alaska native elders talking about their experience of statehood in 1959 and the effects of the Statehood Act on Native life. The North Carolina Humanities Council supported the Bladen County Library to collect stories and recollections about the Cape Fear River. This collection includes the story of eighty-eight-year-old Horace Butler, who still works in timber and was the last logger to take a log raft down the river in 1957. Butler is the repository of a life intimately linked to the river.

The Nebraska Humanities Council has an ongoing grantmaking initiative "Growing Older in Nebraska." One of the projects supported by this initiative brings together elders as storytellers and young adults ages 16 to 22 as recording partners to create elder legacies through the "Embracing Elderhood" program in several Nebraska communities.

The Apprenticeship Program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, pairs masters of folklife traditions with an apprentice seeking to document, promote, and preserve folklife traditions ranging from fiddling to storytelling to wood carving. The master artists are frequently senior citizens who are engaged in crafts they learned from their elders.

Welcome Julie Goldsmith, the new executive of the Ohio Humanities Council

Julie A. Goldsmith, new executive of the Ohio Humanities Council. Photo by M. Pulliam
Julie A. Goldsmith, new executive of the Ohio Humanities Council. Photo by M. Pulliam
Julie A. Goldsmith has been named Executive Director of the Ohio Humanities Council, effective January 18, 2011. Julie served as a Humanities Administrator in NEH's Division of Education Programs before moving to the Ohio Council.

She holds a Ph.D. in media and information studies from Michigan State University, where she developed its historical Chicago Tribune archive of visual art. In 2007, she served as a visiting scholar at the Library of Congress. She has been the recipient of fellowships from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Institutes of Health.

Goldsmith succeeds Gale Peterson, who has retired after 13 years of distinguished service as OHC's Executive Director. Gale notes that Julie "has worked with a wide range of libraries, archives, and museums. This experience will help advance the Council's efforts to strengthen Ohio's cultural community."

Wish Sheldon Bernstein, NEH's Inspector General, a happy retirement

Sheldon Bernstein, who has worked with the humanities endowment since 1976, will retire from NEH on January 29th. He has worked closely with the state humanities councils. Many of you might wish to greet him as he prepares to leave NEH.

In his email to the NEH staff, he wrote that, "In 1980 I was promoted to the Audit Officer/Audit Director position at NEH and in 1989 I was appointed the NEH Inspector General. At times it was a bumpy road, especially during an investigation when I had to interview staff (including some chairmen). Overall, the work was satisfying and rewarding. The opportunity to work with NEH's dedicated and exceptional staff was an extraordinary experience. I sincerely enjoyed working with you and I will always remember in a wonderful way those I met at NEH. … I wish you all the best in continuing the important mission of the NEH and in your own lives."

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 [ about ]
Kathleen Mitchell, senior program officer [ about ]
Meg Ferris, program analyst [ about ]
Shirley Newman, program assistant [ about ]

directions to the Federal/State Partnership office

visit to keep up with the
National Endowment for the Humanities

Federal/State Partnership is the liaison between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the nonprofit network of 56 state and jurisdictional humanities councils