Skip to main content


What is NEH?


NEH is an independent federal government agency charged with supporting the humanities. Through its grant programs, NEH provides Americans with the resources to be informed citizens. Projects supported by NEH ensure broad and equal access to advances in knowledge and the nation’s rich cultural heritage.  


NEH’s 2017 budget was $149.8 million or 47 cents per capita, which is two cents less than a first-class postage stamp. Yet NEH supports educational and scholarly programming all over the United States, through direct grants and through support to humanities councils in every state and several territories.


NEH’s grant programs focus on four key areas: research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities, which include history, archaeology, the study of art and literature, and other disciplines. Grants are made to museums, historical societies, libraries, schools, filmmakers, and individuals. Proposals are reviewed by independent, external reviewers who are experts in their fields. 


  • UNDERTAKEN RESEARCH leading to the publication of more than 8,000 books. Seventeen NEH-supported books, including James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom, have won the Pulitzer Prize. Nineteen others have received the Bancroft Prize.
  • HOSTED SEMINARS, INSTITUTES, AND WORKSHOPS helping more than 95,000 teachers deepen their knowledge of the humanities for the benefit of an estimated 12 million students.
  • CREATED MORE THAN 800 FILMS, bringing the best humanities ideas, research, and stories to the American people. NEH-funded films reach an average of more than 35 million public television viewers a year.
  • EDITED AND DIGITIZED THE PAPERS OF 11 PRESIDENTS, including George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower, along with other eminent figures such as Thomas Edison, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., George Marshall, Walt Whitman, Albert Einstein, and the Brownings.
  • BUILT CHRONICLING AMERICA, a free, searchable, ever-growing archive of 12 million pages of newspapers from across the country between 1690 and 1963. Done in partnership with the Library of Congress.
  • PIONEERED THE DIGITAL HUMANITIES, an innovaive field of study that combines cutting-edge technology with scholarly methods to produce new knowledge, research tools, and educational resources.
  • MOUNTED MAJOR EXHIBITIONS from King Tut to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. The exhibit “First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare” visited all 50 states in 2016.
  • SUPPORTED ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATIONS leading to the discovery of the original fort at Jamestown, Virginia, and a lost language from the north coast of Peru.
  • HELPED RETURNING VETERANS prepare for college, brought the lessons of war to the stage and classroom, fostered dialog among veterans and civilians, and recorded veterans’ experiences.