NEH Awards Picturing America to 29,086 Schools and Public Libraries

WASHINGTON, (January 16, 2009)

Total of 76,000 Institutions across Nation Awarded Education Resource Using Great American Art

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded Picturing America to 29,086 schools and public libraries as the result of the program’s second national application period, the Endowment announced today. NEH’s Picturing America is an education initiative that brings significant works of American art directly to classrooms and libraries to help citizens of all ages explore American history and culture through our nation’s art. To date, over 76,000 schools, public libraries, and Head Start centers nationwide have been awarded this free education resource.

“America has a remarkable story, filled with riveting chapters and extraordinary heroes. Picturing America brings this story to life through forty compelling images,” said NEH Chairman Bruce Cole. “The Endowment is awarding this tremendous resource to over 29,000 additional schools and public libraries, so that students and citizens of all ages can gain a deeper understanding of American history in a direct and engaging new way.”

Today’s 29,086 recipients come from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories. This figure includes district-wide awards in major U.S. school districts such as: Los Angeles Unified School District, Boston Public Schools, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, and San Antonio Independent School District. 8,800 of today’s awardees are home school consortia located in every state, Washington, D.C., and three U.S. territories. In addition to school districts and consortia, library systems also successfully applied, including Hawaii State Public Library System, which will bring Picturing America to its 49 locations. Materials for today’s awardees, who submitted applications before the Nov. 14, 2008, deadline, will be delivered in spring 2009.

A complete list of recipient schools and public libraries, by city and state, is available at the Picturing America Web site at:

Awardees receive 40 large, high-quality reproductions of great American art and a comprehensive teachers resource book which can readily be used in core subject areas such as social studies, civics, language arts, and American history. The Picturing America Web site provides additional education resources for educators, including over 150 links to lesson plans and external online resources, as well as an online image gallery enabling students to examine and compare the images by themes like leadership, democracy, and courage.

Picturing America has now been awarded to a total of 56,000 schools and public libraries, incorporating approximately one third of all K-12 schools and public libraries in the United States. First piloted to 1,500 schools in January 2008, the program was launched nationally in February 2008 and awarded to over 26,000 schools and public libraries across the country in the first application period. District-wide applications in the first application cycle brought Picturing America to major public school districts in New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, and San Francisco, as well as to school and library districts in Washington, D.C.

In addition to schools and public libraries, through a partnership with NEH, the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Head Start, has made Picturing America available to the 20,000 Head Start centers around the nation. In December 2008, HHS announced the development of program materials for pre-K learners. Beginning in spring 2009, Head Start centers across the nation will offer Picturing America programming to enhance early childhood development and family literacy.

Several other federal agencies, including the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the National Park Service (NPS), the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), and the U.S. Department of State, partnered with the NEH and have been instrumental in expanding the reach of the program. For example, NPS has made select images from the Picturing America collection available to patrons at several National Park sites around the country, and DoDEA has distributed Picturing America materials to the 192 military schools at home and abroad. Additionally, the American Library Association (ALA) is working in cooperation with the NEH to distribute Picturing America to schools and public libraries nationwide. NEH state humanities councils have played an active role in the local reach of the program, providing community programming and education opportunities for teachers.

NEH will provide further programming opportunities for Picturing America recipients by offering Picturing America School Collaboration grants—professional development workshops in summer 2009 hosted by institutions such as museums and historical societies. This grant opportunity is designed to help teachers and librarians form connections with Picturing America artworks and courses in the core curriculum. Interested educators will be able to apply in spring 2009.

To learn information about Picturing America, read testimonials from educators (please see the attached file at the top), or view the images available in the collection, please visit the Picturing America Web site (

About Picturing America

Picturing America is a new educational initiative from the National Endowment for the Humanities that brings great American art directly to classroom and library learning to provide an innovative way for citizens of all ages to explore the history, character, and ideals of America through our nation’s art.

Picturing America comes with a comprehensive package of materials that includes:

  • Forty large, high-quality color reproductions of the selected masterpieces (24" x 36");
  • A comprehensive teachers resource book providing a wide range of ideas and background information to support educators using the works of art in core subject areas; and
  • Additional resources and lesson plans available through the Picturing America Web site,


The NEH wishes to thank the following organizations: the American Library Association, Office of Head Start, Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Park Service, the Department of Defense Education Activity, the U.S. Department of State, The History Channel, and the National Trust for the Humanities. The NEH is grateful for the generous support of Mr. and Mrs. Robert H. Smith, as well the support of Honorable William D. Rollnick and the Honorable Nancy Ellison.

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