In 1971, six years after the creation of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), eight independent state-based councils were launched to bring tailored humanities programming directly to the American people. Following the successful establishment of humanities councils in states like Ohio and Oregon, additional councils were instituted in thirteen more states, each now celebrating their fiftieth year of engaging their citizens and enhancing the humanities in their communities. By 1979, a citizen-governed humanities council was present in each of the 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia and, in 1994, the current network of 56 state and jurisdictional humanities councils was fully established.
From Alaska to Mississippi, we recognize the thirteen state councils celebrating their fifty years of service in 2022. Explore the work of each of the councils and find ways to enjoy their programming, including in-person and virtual events, podcasts, documentary films, and more.
Alaska Humanities Forum
The Alaska Humanities Forum brings humanities programming to America’s largest state, working to connect diverse communities across vast distances through the exploration of shared human experiences. In pursuit of its vision for a vibrant, equitable, and engaged Alaska, the forum invests in the communities it serves with innovative grants, opportunities for meaningful conversations and experiences, and valuable resources. With programs dedicated to fostering connection and understanding among Alaskan youth, from AK|Next to Culture Shift, a monthly public conversation series, the forum is bringing Alaskans together in new and valuable ways every day.
In the 50 years since its founding, Humanities Kansas has brought communities together through thought-provoking programming. Guided by the belief that the exchange of stories and ideas in the humanities ultimately strengthens or society and democracy, Humanities Kansas has engaged one in six Kansans in twenty four communities in 2021 alone. The same year the council supported 361 events and grants (totaling more than $240,000) and 241 partnerships with local organizations. Travel back to 1972 to chart the story of the council and its remarkable growth with the Kansas 1972 podcast, now streaming.
Indiana Humanities brings the humanities into the daily lives of Hoosiers from across the state, inspiring connections and encouraging individuals to “think, read, and talk” through its programming and grants. From outdoor interactive engagements like Unearthed, which explores our human connection to the natural world, to Novel Conversations, a free statewide lending library with more than 900 titles available for discussion, Indiana Humanities empowers individuals to reflect on the state’s heritage while envisioning an exciting future. Through the SHARP grant program, Indiana Humanities awarded more than $833,000 in funding to 88 organizations in 45 communities 2021.
Kentucky Humanities goes beyond the history books when telling the story of its state. Through its programs and services, Kentucky Humanities works to instill a sense of pride and connection in the state’s people and its rich cultural and historical legacy. The council’s network serves Kentuckians of all ages, from Prime Time, a six-week reading program for children and their families conducted in schools and libraries throughout the state, to the robust Speakers Bureau, providing engaging public events for adults. In celebration of its fiftieth anniversary, Kentucky Humanities hosts a series of special events throughout 2022, all open to the public.
Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
For the 64 parishes of the Pelican State, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities provides community-driven humanities programs and opportunities for a lifetime of learning. Over the last 50 years, the endowment has invested in a vast network of public programs, expanding access to arts, culture, and education to all corners of the state. LEH has awarded $730,000 in grants and funds in the last two years alone. In addition to humanities programming, grants, and operating the Helis Foundation John Scott Center, a New Orleans exhibition and dialogue space, the endowment produces media such as Iron Shapes Iron, a documentary on the community of Ironton, Louisiana, which hosts the 2022 New Orleans Film Festival.
Minnesota Humanities Center
Located in St. Paul, the Minnesota Humanities Center is dedicated to making the humanities not only more accessible but also relevant to people throughout the state. Between 2019 and 2021, the center supported more than 260 projects and provided millions of dollars in funding, increasing the role of the humanities in Minnesotan life. Beyond its grant-funded projects, the center has four primary program emphases: education; immersive experiences; civics, college, climate (CCC); and statewide initiatives. These programs include professional development opportunities, public programs, and media, such as books and video series profiling Minnesota’s diverse history and communities.
Mississippi Humanities Council
Since its inception, the Mississippi Humanities Council has played a valuable role in the state, providing the tools and platform for navigating our ever-evolving society. Guided by the philosophy that “the humanities are for everyone,” the council has maintained a diverse collection of initiatives to provide all Mississippians with opportunities to engage with the humanities. From the Family Reading Project, which instills a lifelong love of learning for parents and elementary age students alike, to the Prison Education program, which offers free for-credit humanities courses to students who are incarcerated, the council offers a wide variety of resources for Mississippi residents.
Through its grants, projects, and programs, Humanities Montana has worked for five decades to strengthen every community across the vast state it serves. In addition to grant-funded projects and council events, Humanities Montana works to bring the humanities directly to communities through its Montana Conversations, Informed Citizen, and Montana Reads/Montana Writes programs. To date, 48 percent of the grants awarded by Humanities Montana have supported organizations in rural communities, increasing equitable access to humanities education and opportunities for citizens throughout Big Sky Country.
New Jersey Council for the Humanities
The New Jersey Council for the Humanities has provided thousands of public humanities programs to the nearly nine million residents of the Garden State since its founding in 1972. The council’s initiatives and grants make the humanities accessible to communities in all twelve New Jersey congressional districts. Among the council’s signature programs is Community History, which has supported 14 organizations in developing community-based public history projects since 2021. A critical partner for cultural institutions throughout the pandemic, the council awarded over $660,000 to 84 organizations through the CARES Act and connected 1,230,913 New Jerseyans through virtual events.
North Carolina Humanities
One of the largest and oldest cultural funders in the North Carolina, North Carolina Humanities has been expanding access to public humanities programming to more than 10 million citizens throughout the state for 50 years. Located in Charlotte, North Carolina Humanities is a robust non-profit organization with humanities offerings designed to meet the needs of the state’s communities, both urban and rural, costal and mountainous. As part of the council’s 2022 anniversary celebrations, it launched North Carolina Reads, a statewide book club, and brought Crossroads: Change in Rural America, a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution, to venues across North Carolina.
South Carolina Humanities
South Carolina Humanities has been enriching the cultural and intellectual lives of the people in the Palmetto State for five decades. Each year, South Carolina Humanities awards $200,000 in grants to educational and cultural institutions. Among the projects it has funded is “Justice for All,” a traveling exhibition detailing the civil rights movement in the state, created through a grant to the University of South Carolina. In addition to grantee projects, the council produces its own programs, including the longstanding Speakers Bureau and annual South Carolina Humanities Festival.
South Dakota Humanities Council
Since its founding in 1972, the South Dakota Humanities Council has served as the only cultural organization in the state with the sole mission of providing humanities programming to South Dakotans. Through its grants, advocacy, and programming, the council provides unique opportunities for the public to expand their knowledge of history, literature, philosophy, and other humanities fields. In addition to supporting nearly 150 Speakers Bureau events annually, the council provides multiple literary programs to the public, including Book Club To-Go, One Book South Dakota, and the annual South Dakota Festival of Books.
Wisconsin Humanities serves a dynamic state of nearly six million people, providing communities from the shores of Lake Michigan to the bluffs of the Mississippi River with humanities programs, events, and media. Programs like Love Wisconsin—a digital storytelling project with more than 100,000 followers—and Community Powered—an initiative that aims to build resilience in communities by drawing on history to envision a vibrant future—are at the core of the council’s work. Wisconsin Humanities awards $200,000 in grant funds annually to support local programs that facilitate connection and understanding.