New Grants to Support Humanities Preservation Efforts, 127 U.S. Institutions in 36 States Awarded $5.4 Million

BLOOMINGTON, Ind., (February 3, 2005)

Awards include U.S. Newspaper Program and nine education and training projects

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today announced that 127 U.S. cultural institutions in 36 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico will receive $5.4 million for projects that will take steps to preserve significant books, newspapers, films, audio recordings, papers, and other important records of cultural history. Several of these projects also have received offers of federal matching funds totaling $310,000; institutions receiving such offers must generate equivalent support from individual, foundation, and corporate donors. NEH Chairman Bruce Cole announced the awards today at Indiana University in Bloomington, which received two of the new grants.

The new NEH grants include five for projects in research and development, three that will advance the Endowment's program for the preservation of U.S. newspapers, five in education and training, and 114 "Preservation Assistance Grants" for projects in museums, libraries, and archives across the country. A complete list of new humanities preservation and access grants is available here.

"Throughout the United States, many collections of written materials, films, audio and video recordings, and material artifacts are threatened with physical deterioration as they age in our libraries, museums, and archives," said NEH Chairman Bruce Cole. "These new NEH grants will help the nation's cultural institutions protect and preserve significant materials for study by future generations."

Five grants will support research and development to advance the nation's capacity to preserve and provide access to humanities resources. Indiana University (Bloomington) will develop and test best practices for preserving analog sound recordings by converting them into digital form. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley, Calif.) will construct and test a non-invasive, state-of-the-art optical scanning system that will recover recorded sound from a variety of mechanical formats, including 78 rpm, shellac, acetate, wax, and discs. The University of California, Berkeley, will develop new standards for incorporating 14 historical and minority language scripts into the Unicode standard. The University of Missouri, Kansas City, will develop tools that will facilitate the process of digitizing and encoding Latin books printed prior to 1501. Heritage Preservation (Washington, D.C.) will prepare and disseminate a "Field Guide to Emergency Readiness and Response," which will provide step-by-step advice on how to salvage humanities collections immediately after a disaster.

The Endowment's U.S. Newspaper Program (USNP) is a cooperative national effort to locate, catalog, preserve on microfilm, and make available to researchers newspapers published in the United States from the 18th century to the present. With technical support provided by the Library of Congress, NEH supports statewide projects conducted in accordance with national standards and best practices. Three USNP projects will receive new grants and matching funds totaling more than $1.8 million to continue ongoing projects in California (University of California, Riverside), Illinois (University of Illinois, Urbana), and Virginia (Library of Virginia, Richmond).

Five of the grants announced today will support education and training, which is an important component of the Endowment's national preservation effort. The Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies (Mt. Carroll, Ill.) will offer courses for mid-career practicing professionals in collections care. George Washington University (Washington, D.C.) will develop a course and offer a long-distance learning curriculum in collections care and management. Cornell University (Ithaca, N.Y.) will offer six one-week workshops on the preservation of digital resources for staffs in cultural organizations across the country. Grants to the Balboa Art Conservation Center (San Diego, Calif.) and AMIGOS Library Services, Inc. (Dallas, Texas) will support regional preservation field service programs that provide surveys, workshops and seminars, disaster assistance, and information services to the staff of museums, historical organizations, libraries, and archives in the West and Southwest, respectively.

In Fiscal Year 2000 NEH launched "Preservation Assistance Grants," a new grant category to enhance the capacity of institutions to preserve their humanities collections and to reach libraries, archives, museums, and historical organizations that do not normally compete for NEH funding through its other preservation categories. With awards of up to $5,000, recipients may use these grants to support

  • preservation assessments of their collections (e.g., University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; the Northwest Railway Museum, Snoqualmie, Wash.; and the Mark Twain House, Hartford, Conn.);
  • consultations with preservation professionals (e.g., the MacGregor Charitable Trust, Estes Park, Colo.; the Geneva Public Library, Geneva, Ind.; and Friends of Hildene, Inc., in Manchester, Vt.);
  • attendance at preservation training events (e.g., Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; New England Quilt Museum, Lowell, Mass.; and the Ramsey County Historical Society, St. Paul, Minn.); and
  • the purchase of preservation supplies and equipment (e.g., 99s Museum of Women Pilots, Oklahoma City, Okla.; the Passaic County Historical Society, Paterson, N.J.; and Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich.).

NEH grants are awarded on a competitive basis. Throughout the year, humanities experts outside of the Endowment and members of the National Council on the Humanities consider all applications and advise NEH on the quality and significance of each proposed project.

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