In recognition of National Arts and Humanities Month, the National Humanities Alliance teamed up with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and Americans for the Arts (AFTA) to host a briefing on Capitol Hill. The event was developed at the request of the Congressional Humanities Caucus, and our goal was to introduce staffers who are responsible for arts and humanities issues to the Endowments, as well as give them a brief glimpse of their impacts.
By supporting the preservation of cultural heritage at organizations across the U.S., the NEH works to ensure that their collections are accessible to the public. At the most basic level, NEH funding supports libraries and archives as they process important collections, enabling them to create the guides and databases that are crucial to researchers trying to access archival materials. NEH funding also helps organizations digitize collections, making collections like the Adams Family Papers, the Journals of Lewis and Clark, and Fox Movietone Newsreels accessible to anyone with an internet connection.
This past Tuesday, we joined forces with the University of Iowa to bring Iowa’s congressional staffers into conversation with 35 representatives from universities, museums, libraries, and archives. Hosted at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (NCSML) in Cedar Rapids, the event was one in a series of in-district meetings intended to educate public officials on the value of the humanities to their communities.
The National Endowment for the Humanities’ (NEH) supports summer programs across the country for K-12 educators, covering history, literature, religion, politics, art, and culture through various themes connected to local histories and cultures. This summer, we partnered with 14 programs to document their impact on educators and, in turn, our nation’s schoolchildren. Data collection will continue until summer 2020 in order to understand how educators are implementing what they learned. However, this year’s pre- and post-program surveys demonstrate these programs provide teachers with a renewed excitement for content, classroom materials that promote connections with students of diverse backgrounds, and a sense of community with educators across the country.
On August 20, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded $29 million to 215 projects located throughout the U.S. These include grants for collaborative research, public scholar fellowships, and scholarly editions and translations; funding for media projects, exhibitions, humanities discussions, and historic site interpretations; grants for the national digital newspaper program and collection preservation; professional development programs for K-12 and college educators; and digital humanities projects and institutes.
On July 23, we partnered with Hagley Museum and Library to present an exhibition-style briefing on Capitol Hill. Congressional staff members, humanities advocates, and other local friends had the opportunity to view items from Hagley’s remarkable collections and gain new insights into the impact of NEH funding in preserving our nation’s heritage.
From its support for academic research to its funding for public programs, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) fosters a strong humanities ecosystem in communities throughout the United States. This was driven home to me most recently during a trip to Plymouth, Massachusetts. There, I saw first-hand how NEH-funded research allows us to reconsider how we understand key moments in our nation’s past and ensures that the public also comes to see these new interpretations.
On May 21 we partnered with Virginia Humanities and the hosts of the history podcast BackStory to produce a briefing on Capitol Hill. The event, which was held in the Russell Senate Office Building, offered congressional staff and others the opportunity to see for themselves the power of humanities research. Beyond the books and articles produced by humanities scholars, humanities research offers critical insights into our past and present that help grapple with major challenges and prepare for the future.
The National Endowment for the Humanities’ (NEH) Dialogues on the Experience of War program brings together veterans and civilians to reflect upon powerful literature and art. Over the past year, we have partnered with several recent grantees to document the impact of these programs in order to demonstrate the value of the humanities and the NEH for veterans and their communities. While data collection continues, preliminary results from our pre- and post-program surveys illustrate how these programs equip veterans with humanities resources to process their experiences, share their stories, connect with fellow veterans, and reintegrate into their communities.