NEH Announces Latest We the People Funding for Projects Encouraging the Study of U.S. History and Culture

WASHINGTON, (December 20, 2007)

Over $15 million in Total Awards and Offers Approved for 260 Humanities Projects

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced today 62 awards totaling more than $1 million to support We the People projects aimed at reinvigorating the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture. Over the five years since its inception, the NEH We the People program has provided support to 1,377 projects undertaken by scholars, teachers, filmmakers, museums, libraries, and other individuals and institutions.

We the People projects contribute to more than $15 million in total grants and offers of matching funds announced today. A total of 260 projects received support to advance our nation’s understanding of the humanities. These projects encourage new scholarly research, support high-quality programs in under-funded educational institutions, preserve collections in America’s cultural heritage, help institutions support their long-term humanities projects, and enhance citizens’ understanding of history and culture through exhibitions, films, and other public programming.

“As the We the People program celebrates its fifth anniversary, it continues to support vital humanities projects that promote the study of America’s history, culture, and founding principles,” said NEH Chairman Bruce Cole. “Humanities projects funded through Endowment support help us understand where we’ve been, who we are today, and what ideas we must pass on to future generations.”

NEH grants and the We the People program provide funding for a wide variety of projects. Funded projects include educating teachers and community members about local tribal history and culture at Fort Peck Community College in Poplar, Mont., as well as extending the national reach of PBS’s American Experience "Twentieth-Century Presidents" history series. NEH support enables scholars to conduct research on particular topics, like the personal notes of Herman Melville, and on broader themes, such as the history and significance of public libraries. The funding announced today will support institutions with both large-scale projects—such as an endowment for research stipends and symposia in the study of American material culture at the University of Delaware—as well as smaller, yet essential, projects like the purchase of storage cabinetry by Cape Cod’s Heritage Museums and Gardens.

The We the People program has provided free collections of classic books to school and public libraries in all 50 states. We the People grants have enabled individuals and institutions to host enrichment workshops for college faculty and schoolteachers at historic American sites and landmarks, digitize collections of significant newspapers that chronicle American history, and provide lesson plans to a humanities outreach Web site for educators.

The NEH awards announced today will fund programs in 42 states, the District of Columbia, as well as the work of one researcher and two institutions located outside of the United States. A complete state-by-state listing of grants and offers is available in four Adobe PDF files, located in the box above.

Examples of the latest projects receiving Endowment funding include:

OFFICE OF CHALLENGE GRANTS (7) $3,950,000 in NEH Matching Funds

Challenge Grants provide long-term support to expand educational resources and facilities, enact programs that foster research and public programming in the humanities, and preserve collections. In this grant cycle, several universities, a museum, a foundation, and a research institute received grants. See below for examples:

Enhancement and Endowment of the Humanities Collections of the ARIT Libraries in Istanbul and Ankara—$550,000 in NEH matching funds: The relocation and expansion of two American research libraries in Turkey and an endowment for facilities maintenance; a librarian’s salary; and equipment and acquisitions; as well as related direct costs and fund-raising. (Pennsylvania)

Princeton Public Library Endowment for the Humanities—$500,000 in NEH matching funds: Endowment for a new humanities fellowship, public programming, related acquisitions and technology, as well as fund raising expenses. (New Jersey)

Endowing the Position of Head of Museum Interpretation—$300,000 in NEH matching funds: The High Museum of Art’s expansion in 2005 more than doubled the Museum’s size to 312,000 square feet. With the expansion, the Museum reinstalled its collections and incorporated a variety of interpretive strategies. The Head of Museum Interpretation, inaugurated in December 2004, partners with curators and designers to enhance the High’s ability to share its rich humanities themes through its collections and exhibitions. (Georgia)


Grants awarded through the Division of Education Programs support school teachers and college faculty who wish to strengthen the teaching and learning of history, literature, foreign languages and cultures, and other areas of the humanities. This grant cycle, the Humanities Initiatives for Faculty: Historically Black Colleges and Universities; Institutions with High Hispanic Enrollment; and Tribal Colleges and Universities, were awarded. See below for examples:

Fort Peck Community College; Indian Education for All Humanities; Initiatives for Faculty—$30,000: $5,000 of which is funded by the We the People program: Supports a series of professional development activities for Montana school teachers on the history and culture of the Nakona and Dakota people. (Montana)

Lummi Video Curriculum Project—$30,000: The Northwest Indian College is committed to providing Native language and culture education. Coast Salish languages, such as Lummi, a language with fewer than 10 speakers, are considered highly endangered. The College’s Salish Institute will employ digital technology in the production of 13 videos that teach Lummi language and culture, and will develop print-based curricula to accompany each video. (Washington)

Literature and the Law: Disciplinary Perspectives and Faculty Development—$29,926: With the grant, the English Department of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, will fund a year-long faculty seminar and series of lectures in literature and the law. The seminar will host six internationally recognized scholars in the field of law and literature, and will ensure the Department’s new English major, with an optional concentration in Literature and the Law, has a strong intellectual foundation. (New York)

DIVISION OF PRESERVATION AND ACCESS (133) $4,578,306 Outright—$160,000 in Federal Matching Funds

The Division of Preservation and Access provides leadership and support to institutions and organizations attempting to address the problems posed by the physical deterioration of humanities collections in America’s libraries, museums, archives, and historical organizations. This grant cycle, more than 100 institutions, including museums, foundations, and historical societies were awarded grants. See below for examples:

The Dynamic Lexicon: Cyberinfrastructure and the Automatic Analysis of Historical Languages—$285,000: Research on methods to generate a lexicon for a text collection that would be updated as new texts are added. Using Greek and Latin texts, the project would investigate automated methods to do grammatical analysis and extract statistical information in order to create dictionary entries. (Massachusetts)

Preservation Assessment of Rare Book Collection and Training—$5,000: A preservation assessment of the rare book holdings of La Casa del Libro, including an internationally significant collection of Spanish incunabula, early printed books, medieval manuscripts, prints, maps, modern fine press books, and books and prints by notable Puerto Rican artists. In addition, a conservator will train the museum’s staff in care and handling procedures for the collections. (Puerto Rico)

Conservation Assessment of Objects from the Center for Puppetry Arts’ Puppet Collection—$5,000: A condition survey of 250 puppets and related performing objects from around the world. These items were used in various cultural contexts: rituals and religious functions, social commentary, cultural narratives, and childhood education. From its collection, the center has selected 25 puppets from Africa, 70 from Europe, and 155 from North and South America to represent a full range of countries, time periods, and media. (Georgia)


The Division of Public Programs expands understanding of the humanities through engaging and substantive projects like documentary films, exhibitions, and other public programming that encourage lifelong learning. This grant cycle, recipients represented a wide variety of diverse programs, including several traveling exhibitions. See below for examples:

Twentieth-Century Presidents: A Multi-platform Initiative from the American Experience—$500,000: $75,000 of which is funded by the We the People program: The distribution, onto a broad range of media platforms, of the television biographies of seven twentieth century presidents—Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George Herbert Walker Bush—who defined the modern American presidency. (Massachusetts)

Abraham Lincoln: A Man of His Time, A Man for All Times, A Traveling Exhibition—$400,000: $200,000 of which is funded by the We the People program: The production of a six section panel exhibition, “Abraham Lincoln: A Man of His Time, A Man for All Times,” will travel to 40 libraries and be accessible online along with an exhibition brochure, a multimedia resource kit and video, as well as programming for public audiences at both the local and national level. (New York)

Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World - A Traveling Exhibition for Libraries Supplement—$179,618: $35,000 of which is funded by the We the People program: The extension and expansion of a traveling panel exhibition, “Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World,” related public programming, training, and companion digital and curricular materials a bout the life of Benjamin Franklin and his contributions to the founding of the United States. As a result of this expansion, the exhibition will now travel to 40 sites across the United States. (Illinois)


The Division of Research Programs seeks to create and disseminate new knowledge on human history, language, and culture. This grant cycle, the Division offered awards in three programs: NEH Fellowships, Digital Humanities Fellowships, and Faculty Research Awards. In addition, the Division and the Japan-US Friendship Commission offered fellowship awards for Advanced Social Research on Japan. See below for examples:

Female Activists and Political Change During the 1868 Meiji Restoration in Japan—$50,400: This project looks at the parallel stories of two women, imperial loyalists Nomura Boto and Kurosawa Toki, who were hailed as heroines of the 1868 Meiji Restoration, and reads political events through the prisms of gender and prophecy in order to enrich our understanding of female political activism in nineteenth century Japan. (Florida)

William Schuman and the Shaping of America’s Musical Life, 1910-1992—$50,400: Study on the life, music, and times of William Schuman, American Composer, educator, and administrator. The middle third of the twentieth century was a volatile time in American musical culture, and Schuman provides a window through which to re-examine this period. (New Hampshire)

The Impact of Disability on America’s Collective Memory of Franklin D. Roosevelt—$25,200: A book-length narrative - based on extensive primary research and aimed principally at a general audience - of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s experience of disability. Drawing on insights from the fields of disability studies and the study of illness as a subjective experience, the book will illuminate the life history of a central figure of American life in the 20th century. (Ohio)

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