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About the Division of Research Programs

The Division of Research Programs supports scholarly research that advances knowledge and understanding of the humanities. Awards are made to scholars working on research projects of significance to specific humanities fields and to the humanities as a whole. For example, grants support projects as diverse as the deciphering and editing of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the editing of the correspondence of Charles Darwin. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s A Midwife’s Tale (a biography of a midwife, based on her 1785-1812 diary, that brings to life ordinary people’s experiences in post-Revolutionary America) and William Taubman’s Khrushchev: The Man and His Era (a biography of a leader of Soviet Russia) are just two of a number of NEH-supported books that have received the Pulitzer Prize. Translations of materials in other languages bring little-known foreign works, such as the plays of Miguel de Cervantes, to American readers. Projects like these add to the existing store of knowledge and inform every area of the humanities.

The scholarly research supported by the division also benefits humanities education and public programming. Teachers make use of projects supported by the Scholarly Editions program in their classrooms. For example, the papers of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King are taught in American history classes, and the literary masterworks of writers like Percy Bysshe Shelley and Willa Cather are taught in English classes. Archaeology projects—supported by the Collaborative Research program—unearth artifacts used by museum curators in mounting exhibitions that teach us what life was like in ancient civilizations. Producers of television documentaries rely on new research findings in many fields—such as American history and the history of science—to inform their programs. In these ways scholars supported by NEH grants produce research that interests and benefits a wide audience.