New Grants Awarded by NEH and UK Arts and Humanities Research Council to Support Digital Innovation at Cultural Institutions
Twelve NEH/AHRC New Directions for Digital Scholarship in Cultural Institutions grants will advance digital tools and methods used by museums, libraries, and archives to bring the humanities to global audiences
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is proud to join the United Kingdom’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), in announcing the recipients of the second round of NEH/AHRC New Directions for Digital Scholarship in Cultural Institutions grants.
Twelve grants will support teams of international researchers in developing new methods of sharing culture and heritage with global audiences, opening new research frontiers, and advancing collections-based research methods for the twenty-first century.
Funded projects include the development of the Digital Archive of the Atlantic Slave Trades, an open-access resource that will digitize, transcribe, translate, and link more than 30,000 pages of records relating to the South Sea Company, one of the largest slave-trading companies in history, to deepen our understanding of its role in trafficking 90,000 enslaved persons from Africa and the British Caribbean between 1713 and 1739. Other projects will enhance the visitor experience at cultural institutions, such as a collaboration between the University of Michigan and the University of Westminster to train museum practitioners in the use of digital audio description tools to improve the accessibility of cultural collections for blind, partially blind, and sighted audiences.
“NEH is pleased to be able to continue our partnership with AHRC to support scholars working to develop innovative new techniques and strategies for sharing and studying cultural collections,” said NEH Acting Chair Adam Wolfson. “These twelve newly funded projects will expand access to important historical sites and records around the globe, foster international collaboration, and further research into digital technologies that will bring humanities materials to new audiences.”
Designed to advance digital scholarship in cultural institutions such as museums, libraries, and archives, the NEH/AHRC New Directions for Digital Scholarship in Cultural Institutions grant program is a joint initiative between NEH and the United Kingdom’s AHRC. Bilateral teams of researchers and cultural institution professionals from both U.S. and UK institutions will receive $1.2 million in NEH funding, and an additional £1.8 million from AHRC for collaborative research projects.
“We are proud to continue this exciting collaboration with the National Endowment for the Humanities,” said Professor Christopher Smith, Executive Chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council. “This collaboration connects leading institutions in the US and the UK to pioneer ground-breaking new research methods, and lead world class research and innovation in digital humanities. These projects will open up heritage and culture in new ways that benefit both researchers and the public and bring a wealth of fascinating collections into the twenty-first century and in ever more accessible ways.”
Below are the U.S. recipients of the newly awarded NEH/AHRC New Directions for Digital Scholarship in Cultural Institutions grants:
- Bucknell University
Project Director: Diane Jakacki
Project Title: Evolving Hands: Building Workflows and Scalable Practices for Handwriting
Project Description: The development and publication of training materials and documentation for the automatic transcription of historical handwritten texts, based on three case studies from the Gertrude Bell Archive, the Records of Early English Drama, and archival collections held at Bucknell University. The UK partner is Newcastle University.
- Cornell University
Project Director: Tao Goffe
Project Title: Towards an Integrated Colonial Archive: Humanities, Law and British Indentureship
Project Description: The creation of an interactive website that brings together collections in the United States and United Kingdom to facilitate scholarship on colonialism and indentureship. The UK partner is Birkbeck College.
- George Mason University
Project Director: T. Kelly; Deepthi Murali (co-project director)
Project Title: Subaltern Histories of Global Textiles : Connecting Collections, Expanding Engagement
Project Description: Data collection, analysis, and construction of a prototype website to explore the use of Indian-style textiles in the African diaspora in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The UK partner is the University of Edinburgh.
- Rice University
Project Director: Daniel Domingues da Silva
Project Title: Towards a Digital Archive of the Atlantic Slave Trades: Unlocking the Records of the South Sea Company
Project Description: The development of the Digital Archive of the Atlantic Slave Trades, an open-access resource that will digitize, transcribe, translate, and semantically link manuscript materials documenting the South Sea Company and its contribution to the trans-Atlantic and intra-American slave trades. The UK partner is Lancaster University.
- SUNY Research Foundation, Farmingdale State
Project Director: Mary Caulfield
Project Title: Designing Mixed Reality Heritage Performances to Support Decolonization of Heritage Sites
Project Description: The creation of research-based performances and toolkits about the eighteenth-century slave trade in Deerfield, Massachusetts, and London for cultural heritage sites in the U.S. and UK. The UK partner is Brunel University London.
- Trustees of Princeton University
Project Director: Christina Lee; Anuradha Vedantham (co-project director)
Project Title: A Digital Repatriation of a Lost archive of the Spanish Pacific: The Library of The Convent of San Pablo (Manila, 1762)
Project Description: A project to digitize a collection of more than 1,500 rare manuscripts, maps, and early printed materials that were taken in the eighteenth century from the Convent of San Pablo in Manila, Philippines, and dispersed throughout the Philippines, United States, and United Kingdom. The UK partner is SOAS University of London.
- University of Arizona
Project Director: Jennifer Jenkins
Project Title: Indigenous Knowledges: a Digital Residency Exchange and Best Practices Pilot
Project Description: The development of a reciprocal, consultative model for collaborative digital decolonizing of Indigenous materials between a U.S. tribal college library (Kinyaa'áanii Charlie Benally Library at Diné College) and a UK cultural heritage collecting institution (Wellcome Collection). The UK partner is the University of Kent.
- University of Arkansas
Project Director: Carla Klehm; Christopher Angel (co-project director); Angelia Payne (co-project director); Malcolm Williamson (co-project director)
Project Title: Digital Storytelling on African Urbanisms: A Model to Empower Education Initiatives Across the Global South
Project Description: The assessment and expansion of the metsemegologolo digital archive for use in teaching digital storytelling to K–12 and college students in Southern Africa and across the Global South. The UK partner is the University of Cambridge.
- University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Project Director: Audrey Bennett
Project Title: I Don’t See What You Mean: Designing Creative, Accessible Museum Experiences
Project Description: The development and testing of a one-day workshop for museum practitioners that will use the Inclusive Co-Created Audio Description model to change how museum workers understand and implement digital accessibility for blind, partially blind, and sighted audiences. The UK partner is the University of Westminster.
- University of Notre Dame
Project Director: Robert Goulding
Project Title: Unlocking Digital Texts: Towards an Interoperable Text Framework
Project Description: The development of a proof of concept for an Interoperable Text Framework to standardize the format of digital texts to make them easier to present, analyze, and reuse. The UK partner is the University of Oxford.
- University of Wyoming
Project Director: Isadora Helfgott; Paul Flesher (co-project director)
Project Title: Finding a Place: Advancing Digital Methods to Unlock the Use of Digitized Book Illustrations in Cultural Institutions
Project Description: A research project on identifying and analyzing patterns in book illustration (c 1750–1940) using digitized books from collections in Wyoming, Wales, and England. The UK partner is Cardiff University.
- Yale University
Project Director: Peter Leonard; Emmanuelle Delmas-Glass (co-project director); Yer Vang-Cohen (co-project director)
Project Title: Enriching Exhibition Scholarship: Reconciling Knowledge Graphs and Social Media from Newspaper Articles to Twitter
Project Description: The development of methodologies and workflows to create structured metadata about art exhibitions and objects from catalogs, historic newspapers, and social media. The UK partner is the University of Edinburgh.
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 neh.gov.
UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC): The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, funds internationally outstanding independent researchers across the whole range of the arts and humanities: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages and literature, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. The quality and range of research supported by AHRC works for the good of UK society and culture and contributes both to UK economic success and to the culture and welfare of societies across the globe. ahrc.ukri.org