NEH Announces $29 Million for 215 Humanities Projects Nationwide

Grant awards for humanities research, education programs, cultural preservation, films, exhibitions, and virtual reality projects augmented by $48 million in funding for state humanities councils

NEH graphic, images of 2019 grant projects
Photo caption

Newly awarded NEH grants will support tree-ring analysis of medieval Byzantine churches in Cyprus, preservation of fragile nitrate-based film at the George Eastman Museum, production of a documentary on the history of Alaska, a summer institute for K-12 teachers on the Jazz Age in Kansas City, and research and writing of a book on representations of Alexander the Great throughout history, among many others. 

(August 14, 2019)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today announced $29 million in awards for 215 humanities projects across the country. The grants include funding to produce a television series, South by Somewhere (wt), on the foodways, history, and culture of the American South, and for the archaeological analysis of the overseer’s quarters at James Madison’s Montpelier plantation. 

This round of funding, NEH’s third and last for fiscal year 2019, will support vital research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. These peer-reviewed grants were awarded in addition to $48 million in annual operating support provided to the national network of state and territorial humanities councils during fiscal year 2019.

“NEH grants help strengthen and sustain American cultural life, in communities, at museums, libraries, and historic sites, and in classrooms,” said NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede. “As the nation prepares to commemorate its 250th anniversary in 2026, NEH is proud to help lay the foundations for public engagement with America’s past by funding projects that safeguard cultural heritage and advance our understanding of the events, ideas, and people that have shaped our nation.”

This funding cycle includes grants for several longstanding NEH-supported scholarly editions projects that illuminate foundational texts and the lives of influential individuals. New grants will enable continued work on the papers of presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln, as well as publication of the complete speeches, correspondence, and writings of Martin Luther King Jr. and Eleanor Roosevelt, and a new scholarly edition and translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Several others will provide for community-based public programs around significant milestones in national and regional U.S. history, such as grants for statewide reading and discussion programs in Maine tied to the state’s bicentennial in 2020, funding for a three-part documentary on the history and identity of Alaska by celebrated filmmaker Ric Burns, and support for the creation of a new permanent gallery at the Please Touch Museum to teach children about the 1876 Centennial Fair in Philadelphia.

NEH continues to support cutting-edge research and public programs in the humanities with grants to support tree-ring analysis of medieval Byzantine churches in Cyprus to identify the structures’ date of construction and source materials, expand the Perseus Digital Library of resources on the Classical world, and produce Unladylike 2020, a series of animated films about female trailblazers of the Progressive Era.

NEH Public Scholar grants, which support popular nonfiction books in the humanities, will enable publication of: a biography of Sacagawea as a window into the experiences of Northern Plains, Rockies, and Pacific Northwest Native American tribes; an examination of the mythos of Alexander the Great across multiple cultures and eras; and a book on the portrayal of returning WWII veterans in the blockbuster 1946 film The Best Years of Our Lives.

Several projects receiving grants today will help preserve significant historical and cultural collections and make them more accessible to a broader public. These include grants to protect a collection of fragile nitrate-based film and photography at the George Eastman Museum that includes the original Technicolor camera negatives for The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, safeguard materials documenting the history of the Pikes Peak region at the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, and improve environmental controls for European, African, and American art collections at Puerto Rico’s Museo de Arte de Ponce.

Twenty-three institutions received grants to support professional development for K-12 and college teachers through summer workshops and institutes on humanities topics such as: Roman Life in Pompeii, Moby-Dick and the nineteenth-century whaling industry, Kansas City in the Jazz Age, and John Steinbeck’s writings on California’s agricultural and marine industries and ecology.

This round of funding also includes a number of cooperative agreements that reflect NEH emphases on civic education and the stewardship of cultural heritage, including a collaborative project with the American Historical Association to conduct a national survey of the American public to assess perceptions of and engagement with the past, and a $1 million partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to support the preservation of historic buildings and sites at America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

A full list of grants by geographic location is available here.  

Grants were awarded in the following categories:

Collaborative Research

Support interpretive research undertaken by a team of two or more collaborating scholars that adds significantly to knowledge and understanding of the humanities
 

14 grants, totaling $1.9 million

Digital Humanities Advancement

Support the implementation of innovative digital humanities projects that have successfully completed a start-up phase and demonstrated their value to the field


16 grants, totaling $2.3 million

Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities

Provide scholars and advanced graduate students with the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of advanced technology tools and methodologies relevant to the humanities and to increase the number of humanities scholars using digital technology in their research


5 grants, totaling $920,517

Landmarks of American History and Culture

Support a series of one-week workshops for a national audience of K-12 educators that enhance and strengthen humanities teaching at the K-12 level.


16 grants, totaling $2.7 million

Media Projects: Development and Production

Support film, television, and radio projects that explore significant events, figures, and ideas within the humanities. Development grants enable media producers to collaborate with scholars to develop humanities content and to prepare programs for production; production grants support the preparation of a project for presentation to the public.


12 grants, totaling $3.3 million

National Digital Newspaper Program

Support the creation of a national, digital resource of historically significant newspapers published between 1690 and 1963, from all states and U.S. territories


11 grants, totaling $2.7 million

Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions  

Help institutions—particularly small and mid-sized institutions—improve their ability to preserve and care for their humanities collections, including special collections of books and journals, archives and manuscripts, prints and photographs, moving images, sound recordings, architectural and cartographic records, decorative and fine arts, textiles, archaeological and ethnographic artifacts, furniture, and historical objects.


45 grants, totaling $394,741

Public Humanities Projects: Humanities Discussions, Exhibitions, and Historic Places

Support museum exhibitions, discussion programs, and interpretations of historic places that bring the ideas and insights of the humanities to life for general audiences


10 grants, totaling $1.6 million

Public Scholar Program

Support well-researched books in the humanities aimed at a broad public audience


15 grants, totaling $795,000

Scholarly Editions and Translations

Support the preparation of editions and translations of texts that are valuable to the humanities but are inaccessible or available only in inadequate editions


17 grants, totaling $4.2 million

Summer Seminars and Institutes for College and University Teachers

Support intensive one- to four-week projects in which sixteen to twenty-five college and university faculty members, working with scholarly experts, engage in collegial study of significant texts and topics in the humanities
 

9 grants, totaling $1.2 million

Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Support intensive one- to four-week projects in which sixteen to thirty school teachers, working with scholarly experts, engage in collegial study of significant texts and topics in the humanities
 

23 grants, totaling $3.3 million

Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections

Support preventative conservation measures to prolong the useful life of collections to help cultural institutions preserve large and diverse holdings of humanities materials for future generations
 

18 grants, totaling $2.7 million

 

 

National Endowment for the Humanities: Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.