NEH Announces $33.8 Million for 260 Humanities Projects Nationwide

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today announced $33.8 million in grants for 260 humanities projects across the country. Among these are grants to support research for a cultural, political, and legal history of cancer in America that focuses on the Ames test for carcinogens; create a baccalaureate degree program in Native American studies at Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College; and expand the North American Climate History Project, a digital resource of weather and climate records from the colonial and early American Republic period.

“It is my great pleasure to announce NEH grant awards to support 260 exemplary humanities projects undertaken by scholars, higher education institutions, and organizations of every size,” said NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe (Navajo).  “This funding will help preserve and expand access to community histories, strengthen the ability of small museums and archives to serve the public, and provide resources and educational opportunities for students to engage with history, literature, languages, and cultures.”

This funding cycle includes the first round of awards made under NEH’s new Public Impact Projects at Smaller Organizations grant program. Developed as part of the agency’s American Tapestry: Weaving Together Past, Present, and Future initiative, these grants assist small and mid-sized cultural organizations—particularly those in underserved communities—in strengthening public humanities programming. Twenty-eight new Public Impact Projects grants will support a range of capacity-building projects at small museums, historical societies, and heritage sites, including development of a new museum interpretive plan on the history of Arthurdale, West Virginia, the nation’s first New Deal community; expansion of the “Invisible Ground” series of heritage markers and audiovisual materials exploring marginalized community histories in southeast Ohio; and an initiative to assist 20 small museums in Oklahoma located along Route 66 in improving their interpretive capacities.

Eighteen new awards under the American Tapestry program, Cultural and Community Resilience grants, will support community-based efforts to preserve cultural heritage in the wake of climate change and COVID-19. Awards in this category include a project to collect oral histories on the impact of the pandemic in Spanish-speaking and Indigenous communities in Kansas; the documentation of Gullah Geechee cultural heritage sites and their histories; the collection and curation of oral histories from Apsáalooke (Crow) elders about the coal economy and Montana’s Crow Indian Reservation over the past fifty years; and documentation of the cultural heritage of Islote, Puerto Rico, a small, historical fishing village endangered by climate change.

Grants awarded today also make significant investments in the fields of conservation science research and training to help find better ways to preserve materials and collections of critical importance to the nation’s cultural heritage. A project at the Northeast Document Conservation Center will develop open-source software and workflows to preserve recordings stored on Digital Audio Tape (DAT), an especially at-risk format widely used by oral historians, journalists, local radio stations, and other broadcast environments between 1987 and 2005. Additional grants will underwrite a survey of the capacity and unique heritage needs of archives and libraries of over 500 minority-serving institutions across the United States, and a convening of museum professionals and scholars to create data standards and protocols for provenance research on art and artifacts from the ancient Mediterranean to help curb the trade in illegal antiquities.

Several projects apply new technologies and digital methods to innovative humanities public programs and research, such as an interactive documentary website about the 1951 student movement to desegregate Moton High School in Farmville, Virginia, led by the sixteen-year-old civil rights activist Barbara Johns, and the development of machine learning techniques to enhance access to large newspaper photograph collections, using the Boston Globe’s historic photo morgue as a test case. Other grants will enable production of a curated narrative website of postcards published and mailed during the Nazis’ Siege of Leningrad and help researchers refine large-scale text analysis tools to distinguish paratext from main text in books digitized by the HathiTrust Digital Library.

Thirty new NEH Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants, which leverage federal funds to spur nonfederal support for cultural institutions, will support ADA-compliant improvements to facilities at the Ford Piquette Plant Museum, a National Historic Landmark in Detroit at Henry Ford’s first purpose-built factory, and enable construction of a new learning center to support revitalization of the Keres language and cultural heritage on the Pueblo de Cochiti in New Mexico. Additional funding will help underwrite the new Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in downtown Memphis, support a new museum at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh to increase understanding of anti-Semitism, and provide for the replacement of a damaged roof and installation of solar panels at the Meeteetse Museum in Meeteetse, Wyoming.

NEH Humanities Initiatives grants will fund educational resources, programs, curricula, and other projects that enhance teaching and learning in the humanities at 28 two- and four-year colleges and universities. These awards will support: the creation of a cross-disciplinary undergraduate minor in book studies—which encompasses fields such as manuscript studies, book history, design, and the fabrication and conservation of books—at Indiana University Bloomington; a new curriculum at Morgan State University on the history of Black education; a community-based pedagogical project at California State University, Northridge, to transcribe and update materials in the university’s archive documenting the experiences of underrepresented people of color from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries; and development of a digital map and course module at Delaware County Community College examining global resistance of Africans and African descendants to segregation and colonialism from 1945 to 1990.

Newly awarded NEH Fellowships and Awards for Faculty will support advanced research and writing projects by humanities scholars on a wide range of subjects. Funded projects include a biography of Oscar Adams Jr., Alabama’s first African American state supreme court justice; an investigation of how misattributed early modern English texts influenced readers’ tastes and the literary canon; a study of the mining of silver, mercury, and gold in the American West and its connection to the development of American photography; and a digital publication analyzing the architecture, material culture, and social history of the Ponte residential complex in Johannesburg, South Africa, during and after apartheid.

A full list of grants by geographic location is available here.

In addition to these direct grant awards, NEH provides operating support to the agency’s humanities council partners, which make NEH-funded grants throughout the year in every U.S. state and territory.

More information is available here.