The Native Northeast Research Collaborative (NNRC) is a vast digital humanities project that engages tribes, scholars, educators, students, and the public to preserve, curate, and study Indigenous peoples and communities in the Atlantic Northeast. Over the last eleven years of their operation, NNRC’s digitization efforts have helped to publish materials spanning three centuries, addressing an urgent need for reliable primary source material on the Northeast region’s Indigenous peoples. With an NEH CARES grant, NNRC and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center created On Our Own Ground: Pequot Community Papers, 1813-1849. Grant funding allowed the project to hire editors, editorial assistants, and community scholars from the Eastern Pequot and Mashantucket Pequot communities, who then transcribed, edited, annotated, and published a series of 19th century documents that shed light on the everyday lives of Eastern and Mashantucket Pequot people in Early Republic Connecticut.
Since 2017, the NEH for All team has documented and communicated the impact of National Endowment for the Humanities funding, which has included working with project directors to survey ongoing NEH-funded projects. NHA’s Humanities Impact Survey Toolkit was developed from these efforts.
The Walter Anderson Museum of Art (WAMA) in Ocean Springs, Mississippi preserves the legacy of Walter Anderson—a prolific artist who spent the majority of his career on the Mississippi Gulf Coast documenting the local culture and landscape through his artwork. WAMA uses Anderson’s artwork as a catalyst for public programming and education to explore human connections with the natural world. Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, WAMA leveraged an NEH CARES grant to develop Southern Art/Wider World, which included live digital lectures that brought together scholars, community leaders, and the public to explore Mississippi’s diverse cultural and natural landscapes. Through our NEH for All initiative, we partnered with WAMA to document the impact of these lectures. Survey results from the lecture series demonstrate how WAMA provided space for cultural exploration amidst physical distancing measures.
This year’s sweeping challenges have made the need to make sense of our histories even more clear, and cultural organizations are undertaking this crucial work in a variety of creative ways. The International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee’s new Freedom Stories project offers virtual discussions about African American heritage and Appalachian history with Black scholars, storytellers, thought leaders, and community experts. Each event features a live storytelling performance followed by a panel discussion on African American and Appalachian history, as well as life in the region in the present day.
During National Arts and Humanities Month, Humanities for All has been exploring how higher ed-based humanists are using the tools of public humanities and partnership to promote social and racial justice. In recent decades, many American colleges and universities have begun uncovering their historic support and involvement with the institution of slavery (and the ongoing denial of these linkages) as a way of mending a broken sense of trust between students, colleges, and the surrounding community.
We recently hosted a two-part webinar entitled Making the Case for Studying the Humanities in a Time of Crisis. For more than a year now, we’ve been researching the field of undergraduate humanities recruitment, identifying compelling initiatives, effective strategies, and leaders in the field. We gathered six of those leaders—three deans followed by three humanities center directors—to discuss how the pandemic, severely strained budgets, and the national reckoning with racial injustice are changing the context in which they work to attract more students to the humanities.
Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, and Albert Murray are three literary legends of the twentieth century, pivotal to the Harlem Renaissance, Modernism, and cultural theory. Each of these authors spent their formative years in HBCUs, and have artistic and biographical ties to Tuskegee University and Macon County, Alabama—a region that serves as a backdrop to and central inspiration for their works.
NHA is currently working with 14 NEH-funded summer professional development programs for teachers to document their impact. Though our final follow-up survey is still several months away, pre- and post-program surveys shed light on what drew educators to the workshops and what they found most valuable while there. The responses have been enlightening and have helped us understand how NEH-funded programs are fulfilling teachers’ needs and filling gaps in the curricula.
As the debate on immigration policy continues, NEH’s Common Heritage program is capturing stories of how Americans came to this country and made a home for themselves—whether they came from Germany or Korea, 200 years ago or 20, seeking opportunity or refuge.