Skip to main content

November 2013

the latest from Suite 603

November 25, 2013


Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hannukah

The opening plenary of the National Humanities Conference in Birmingham, AL, was held in the 16th Street Baptist Church. On the panel were (l-r) Judge U. W. Clemon, writer Diane McWhorter, moderator Odessa Woolfolk, Judge Helen Shores Lee, and former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones.
Birmingham 1963 & 2013
Sweet tweets
The Library of Congress cites Motheread/Fatheread Colorado for helping combat illiteracy
Elizabeth Lynn, the "on-going experiment," and the American public
Update from NEH Congressional Affairs

* Congratulations to the North Dakota Humanities Council, the New York Council for the Humanities, and the Pennsylvania Humanities Council for winning the 2013 Helen & Martin Schwartz Prizes!
* Read Acting NEH Chair Carole Watson's remarks at the Federation conference.
* The winners of the 2013 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards were announced on November 22nd.

Birmingham 1963 & 2013

Many thanks to the Alabama Humanities Foundation for hosting the Federation's 2013 National Humanities Conference in Birmingham, November 7-10. You helped give all of us in attendance transformative experiences—one after another after another.

The AHF has posted a video of the opening plenary, held at the 16th Street Baptist Church. This church was the heart of so much that happened in the Civil Rights Movement fifty years ago.

Sweet tweets

We asked how councils use Twitter. Thanks for your many responses. Let's count the ways. But first, here's our Twitter handle: @NEH_FedState. Please follow us.

Tracey Quillen of the Kansas Humanities Council wrote that, "I use Constant Contact for our e-newsletter and they have a Simple Share function that allows me to post to Twitter the minute the email gets sent." Sylvia Plumb of the Vermont Humanities Council also uses Constant Contact's Simple Share. Tracy writes about the Twitter reenactment of Quantrill's Raid in Kansas. "KHC tweeted excerpts from our Shared Stories of the Civil War reader's theater script ... in the days leading up to August 21st, the anniversary of the raid." KHC also "provided grant support for the #QR1863 live Twitter re-enactment of the events of Quantrill's Raid."

  • We use Twitter in the same way folks in Kansas describe. After we send our e-newletter we also distribute it on Twitter via Constant Contact. I’ve also connected our Twitter and Facebook accounts so that every Facebook post is also posted to Twitter. I use HootSuite to do this, allowing us to be on both social media platforms without having to post to both. —Anne Coughlin, New Hampshire Humanities Council
  • "While tweeting a picture about a visit to a local bookstore, the city began retweeting us and responding. It was a great way to create a local conversation."—Kate Bartig, Michigan Humanities Council
  • "We use Twitter to promote Maryland Humanities Council events, including grantee events and news. ... Recently at a web conference, a speaker noted that a tweet only has a shelf life of about 5 hours. What do you think?" —Michele Alexander
  • Twitter is "a great tool for spotlighting the relevance of the humanities and the council's programs." —Brian Boyles, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
  • "We tweet interesting humanities facts to generate retweets and increase our audience." —Brenda Smith, Delaware Humanities Forum. Tracy Jinkins of the Oklahoma Humanities Council agrees.
  • Jane Kulow of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities writes that "our Twitter followers (for @VAHumanities at least) are more national and international and they seem to be more people who work within the humanities than our Facebook followers. A couple of comparisons for the VFH Facebook and Twitter followers: Facebook, 75% Virginians, 68% female; Twitter,40% Virginians, 46% female."
  • "Conversational posts or sharing a challenging article connected to the humanities get more engagement than traditional pr material." —David Merkowitz, Ohio Humanities Council
  • "We've ... started to use it for advocacy, tweeting with the hashtag #humanitiesmatter.... I think of Twitter as a less formal voice of our institution and one that can be used to keep us friendly and approachable." —Leah Nahmias, New York Council for the Humanities
  • "If you only tweet about yourself, you become viewed as a shameless promoter; it’s important for your followers to view you as a helpful source of information and a good member of the online community." —Amy Saunders, West Virginia Humanities Council
  • "We use Twitter to stay connected to other humanities councils.... We will often tagþ @NEH_FedState as a request for a re-tweet. During the national conference this month, we were able to connect with other councils using the hashtag, #NHCbirm13. It was a great way for us to see what other councils were doing while in Alabama. ... We have almost 2,500 followers, and it’s growing daily." —Claire Brown, Alabama Humanities Foundation
  • About one week after launching our account, a photographer developed an interest in our council and its work and offered to do a photo shoot free of charge. "We have also received emails and phone calls" asking about our mission, the events we sponsor, how to become involved? The "more people you follow, more will follow you." —Marley Gibson, New Mexico Humanities Council
  • "I mostly use twitter to keep up on topics and share information. I use a curation tool called Scoop.It where I tag articles and posts about humanities that I find interesting and share-worthy and then I tweet the link from there." —Shannon Smith, Wyoming Humanities Council

Anne Schlitt of the Maine Humanities Council asks about metrics and what Twitter "success" looks like. Here's Jane Kulow's response (VFH): "I track all of our basic social media numbers, including followers, likers, and subscribers, across our programs, and update that monthly: eNews (Campaign Monitor), Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, iTunes subscribers, and iTunes downloads (past seven days). ... I have been hoping to develop a content measurement for engagement, tracking each mention across different platforms: Followers and subscribers (as currently tracked) Applause (favorite or a like) Connects (opens the email, clicks through from FB or Twitter to website or story) Talks (comments or shares email or FB post, or retweets)."

The Library of Congress cites Motheread/Fatheread Colorado for helping combat illiteracy
Motheread/Fatheread Colorado was selected as a semifinalist for the competitive American Prize, one of three new Library of Congress literacy awards celebrated for the first time this month.

As part of the award program comprising the International Prize, and the two national awards, the American Prize and the David M. Rubenstein Prize, the Library of Congress has published a booklet that discusses eight best practices for programmatic strategies and approaches to combating illiteracy.

In the publication, titled Best Practices, Motheread/Fatheread Colorado is included as one of the “high-achieving nominees” that "inspire others to embark on the important work of combating illiteracy and aliteracy, or both, in the United States and globally."
Elizabeth Lynn, the "on-going experiment," and the American public
"Gel Print" by Dorothy Schwartz, from An On-Going Experiment
"Gel Print" by Dorothy Schwartz, from An On-Going Experiment

In An On-Going Experiment: State Councils, the Humanities, and the American Public, Elizabeth Lynn writes that the councils began with the mission of bringing the humanities to the American public. She suggests that, from 1971 forward, there "was a passionate, well-funded, sincere, and continually evolving attempt to work out, on the ground, just what the [public] humanities can and should be."

Lynn is director of Valparaiso Univesity's Institute for Leadership & Service and a member of the board of Indiana Humanities. Dorothy Schwartz's artwork appears in this publication. She is the former executive director of the Maine Humanities Council.

An On-Going Experiment is available in Federal/State Partnership's Resource Library which contains other materials about the history of the councils: Jamil Zainaldin's "Public Works: NEH, Congress, and the State Humanities Councils," Kathleen Mitchell's "The Academic as Public Historian,"and the founding dates of the 56 councils.

Update from NEH Congressional Affairs

NEH Office of Congressional Affairs is making an increased effort to include state councils in as much of its communication efforts as possible.

Follow the Office on Twitter @NEH_Congress and on our blog, email suggestions for blog post topics, sign up to attend NEH webinars (listed periodically on the blog), and send Caitlin Green information about upcoming events for Congressional notifications. When you send information about upcoming events, we share it with FedState and Communications, so your events have the potential to be highlighted in multiple ways. You can also send me your events using an Excel spreadsheet. Thanks to so many of you who have already sent in listings.

Register for our webinar about NEH summer programs on December 12th at 5pm ET. We plan to host webinars on traveling museum exhibitions, opportunities for community colleges, and on upcoming grant deadlines. We will advertise these on Humanities Insights and on the HumTalk Google Groups.

Here are our humanities related hashtags: #humanitiesmatter, #stemtosteam, #commoncore #edchat, #APUSH, #artsintegrations, and #STEMandHumanities.


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 McReynolds, program analyst [ about ]
Shirley Newman, program assistant [ about ]

directions to the National Endowment for the Humanities and Federal/State Partnership

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

connect with us twitter