Skip to main content

NEH Matters

We serve and strengthen our Nation through support for the humanities.

Toni Morrison, photo
"My professional life has always centered on humanities scholarship...In languages and in literature you have the consequences of what science and technology can do in the world and its attendant disciplines."

Toni Morrison
Nobel Laureate, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, National Humanities Medal recipient

Morgan Freeman, photo
"The NEH tells the story of our heritage. It connects us to a world beyond our own. It helps each of us rediscover America. It preserves our soul, as a nation and as a people."

Morgan Freeman
Oscar-winning actor and director. Watch Morgan Freeman on NEH.

Martin Scorsese, photo
"We need to remember that there are other values beyond the financial, and that our American artistic heritage has to be preserved and shared by all of us."

Martin Scorsese
Filmmaker, film historian and preservationist; 2013 NEH Jefferson Lecturer.

John Lithgow, professional black and white photo
"My image is a beautiful flower. The stem is STEM, science, technology, engineering and mathematics. But the blossom is the humanities. Without the blossom, the stem is completely useless. How essential it is that these two areas work in coordination with each other."

John Lithgow
Actor, AAAS film.

Ken Burns, photo
"The humanities are what Thomas Jefferson meant when he said, the pursuit of happiness. . .This is not a pursuit of objects in the marketplace of things, but of ideas in our future."

Ken Burns
Documentary filmmaker.

George Lucas, photo
The sciences are the “how,” and the humanities are the “why” — why are we here, why do we believe in the things we believe in. I don’t think you can have the “how” without the “why.”

George Lucas

Dennis Weber, professional head shot
“I became a stronger teacher because of my NEH [teacher seminars]. . . Using original documents supplemented by the latest research, my students . . .expressed surprise at their emerging civil competence—and an appreciation for escaping the mind-numbing aspects of unit-chapter-section text book learning.”

Dennis Weber
Cowlitz County (Washington) Commissioner.

Deborah Tannen professional photo
"Grants I received from NEH early in my academic career truly laid the foundation for all I have been able to accomplish since. A summer stipend following my first year of teaching – I think it was for $2000 – meant I could pay my rent without teaching for two summer months. It not only led to a published article but, even more, was a priceless vote of confidence in the value of my work."

Deborah Tannen
University Professor in the Department of Linguistics at Georgetown University, author of "You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation."

Kenneth R. Weinstein, photo
“If you care deeply, as I do, for the legacy of the Founding Fathers, then the NEH should be important to you, for its critical work in protecting their legacy and ensuring that educators at all levels have access to first-class teaching materials on the Founders”

Kenneth R. Weinstein
President and Chief Executive Officer of Hudson Institute

Diane McWhorter, photo
The value of the humanities is that they resist being monetized. They are the examined life of our nation. Outside the context of the humanities, the civil rights revolution, for example, would have been about buying a sandwich at a lunch counter rather than about asserting what it means to be … human.

Diane McWhorter
Author of Pulitzer Prize winning Carry Me Home: Birmingham Alabama: The Climatic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution.

NEH Funding Facts

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), created by Congress in 1965, supports “scholarly and cultural activity in order to achieve a better understanding of the past, a better analysis of the present, and a better view of the future.”

Graphic of NEH Funding Chart

Each year these funds support humanities teaching, scholarship, preservation, and public programs in communities across America.

Rediscovering America

This film, created in 1999 by the National Endowment for the Humanities, illustrates the important roles that the NEH and its affiliate State Humanities Councils play in keeping the American people connected with their history, heritage, and culture.

NEH-Supported Projects

From lectures, and book festivals to family literacy programs, town hall discussions and traveling exhibitions, NEH-supported projects reach deeply into communities across the country.
Tucson Inn neon sign

Neon in Tuscon

A guide to recently restored roadside art.
cover of Proud to Be

A Soldier's Words

An anthology of writings by veterans.
Martin E. Marty

Out of Many

Scholar Martin Marty on America's traditions of religious pluralism

Bosnian refugee marching

New Lives in New England

Refugees in New Hampshire
NEH grants support the creation of exhibitions and help preserve valuable heritage collections. NEH supports award-winning books written with NEH research grants, historic installations, and reading and discussion programs at local libraries.
Samuel Clemens as a teenage printer, 1850

Autobiography of Mark Twain

100 years after the author's death an NEH-supported project publishes his long-awaited autobiography
For All The World To See exhibition at the International Center of Photography

For All the World to See

Examining the role of visual culture in the American Civil Rights Movement
photo of Lincoln seated by Matthew Brady

Forever Free

Abraham Lincoln's views on slavery throughout his political career are reexamined in an NEH-...
King James Bibles from the Manifold Greatness exhibition

The King James Bible at 400

NEH-supported Manifold Greatness exhibition tells the surprising story of the King James...
photo of Port Royal Parlor room display at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

Climate Change

Winterthur leads the way in preventative conservation, with help from an NEH grant

Schneider Saloon

A Century of Commerce

Storefront history at New York's Lower East Side Tenement Museum
Abstract artwork

Middle Eastern View

Geometric art connects different cultures.
Protest sign from the student strike in Prince Edward County, Virginia

Massive Resistance in a Small Town

Before and after Brown in Prince Edward County, Virginia
Image of 1835 revolt of slaves in Brazil

Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints

Art from the backlands of Brazil at the Charles H. Wright Museum in Detroit
NEH enriches education at the K-12 level by sponsoring EDSITEment, an award-winning website for students and teachers, as well as workshops and other professional development opportunities that allow teachers to deepen their knowledge of humanities subjects.
Characters from "Desperate Fishwives"

Travale's Travails

Educational adventure-game explores Elizabethan Age

Collage of images suggesting the humanities.

Looking for Truth in Utah

How one university course has affected a generation of mostly Mormon students.
Stockman House

Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School

80 schoolteachers converge on Mason City, Iowa to study Frank Lloyd Wright's pioneering architecture

Living History

Thirty young historians named NEH scholars at National History Day
Scene from Bacchides

Roman Comedy in Performance

College teachers delve into Roman drama at NEH Summer Institute
NEH brings history and heritage straight into your home with grant-supported documentaries, radio programs, websites and apps.
Image of segregated bus station in Durham, North Carolina, 1940

Freedom Riders

Telling 436 stories in one documentary.
Brian Balough

The American History Guys' Backstory

NEH grants support radio broadcast BackStory with the American History Guys, which puts...
Richard and Mildred Loving in 1965.

The Right to Love

The freedom to marry across racial lines was tested by a shy Virginia couple, who were very much in...
photograph, Burial of Union soldiers in Fredericksburg, VA, 1864

Death and the Civil War

A new NEH-funded documentary examines the impact of the Civil War's staggering death toll on...

American Experience: The Presidents (PBS film collection)

Award-Winning Stories of the Presidents, Online

Biographies of Seven Men Elected to the White House
Peter Sagal, travels cross-country on a motorcycle.


Peter Sagal explores the most important 4,400-word document in the United States
65th Infantry in Puetro Rico, 1941.

El Movimiento

How Latino Americans fought for civil rights
Host and writer Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Africans in America

In the tradition of W.E.B. Du Bois, Henry Louis Gates Jr. explores the history of a people

Our Agency MIssion

NEH plays a vital role in preserving our nation’s heritage and expanding access to America’s diverse cultural and historic treasures.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr with President Lyndon Johnson in 1966

Remembering Dr. King

NEH-supported projects on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mark Twain Editor Robert Hirst speaks at NEH

The Making of Mark Twain's Autobiography

The Mark Twain Papers & Project, one of NEH's longest-funded projects, publishes Twain's...
Image of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Eisenhower

Presidential Papers

NEH has provided long-term support to making accessible the personal papers of 10 US presidents,...
Claim regarding Philip Meredith, slave of General Robert E. Lee

150 Years Ago: Compensated Emancipation

What is the value of a person? A rare glimpse of slaves' lives emerges from 1862 emancipation...
NEH grants leverage private financing to help humanities institutions build the capacity they need to serve communities. NEH Challenge Grants have so far raised nearly $4 billion for the humanities.
Child playing phonograph in cabin home

From Chopin to Public Enemy

NEH challenge grant enables the publication of an award-winning book on music and technology.
Image of Mannie Jackson

From Harlem Globetrotter to Humanities Philanthropist

Former Globetrotter Mannie Jackson matches NEH challenge grant for humanities center at Lewis and...
NEH has been a major force behind some of the most exciting discoveries in the fields of archeology, history, art history, literature and linguistics.
photo of the Great Dismal Swamp

The Great Dismal Swamp

Archeologists studying this vast forbidding landscape that sheltered slaves and Indians find new...
illustration of a 1950s computer

The Rise of the Machines

NEH and the Digital Humanities: The Early Years
Montpelier slave quarters reconstruction

Unearthing the lives of Montpelier's slaves

NEH-supported excavations at Madison's Montpelier offer insights into lifestyle differences within...