National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today announced $30 million in grants for 238 humanities projects across the country. These grants will make possible a national traveling exhibition and public programs at 20 libraries commemorating the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack. NEH will also support continued editorial work on the collected papers of presidents George Washington, John Adams and John Quincy Adams, and James Monroe, as well as the papers of Mark Twain, Thomas Edison, and Jane Addams, and the multivolume Freedom, A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861–1867.
This round of funding, NEH’s last for fiscal year 2020, will support vital research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. These peer-reviewed grants were awarded in addition to $50 million in annual operating support provided to the national network of state and jurisdictional humanities councils.
A More Perfect Union
Several projects receiving grants respond to NEH’s A More Perfect Union initiative, which supports efforts that promote a deeper understanding of U.S. history and culture and advance civics education in preparation for the nation’s 250th anniversary in 2026. A project at Newberry Library in Chicago will mark the semiquincentennial through a series of community programs examining the influence of the American Revolution in inspiring similar struggles for independence across Latin America. The Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society in Connecticut will use an NEH grant to identify materials within its collection of Revolutionary-era records to digitize for use as classroom resources for the 2026 anniversary. Other grants will support the preservation of artifacts and archival materials at Plimoth Plantation, underwrite new interpretive tours at Old Sturbridge Village to engage visitors, and enable production of five television episodes for PBS’s Poetry in America program.
Preservation of Cultural Heritage
Significant NEH investment in the preservation of cultural heritage collections at archives, libraries, and museums will help protect the Amistad Research Center’s extensive holdings on the history of African Americans from the 1780s to the present, and preserve a collection of over 600,000 historic objects, records, and artwork at the Autry Museum of the American West. Additional preservation grants will safeguard film footage documenting the events and people of Appalachia at Kentucky’s Appalshop; preserve archives relating to the 1986 Challenger Space Shuttle disaster at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in New Hampshire; upgrade storage conditions for heritage materials on the Miami people at the Myaamia Heritage Museum & Archive in Oklahoma; and protect important jazz history recordings, photographs, and memorabilia at Preservation Hall in Louisiana.
Twenty-five new NEH Public Scholar grants, which support popular nonfiction books in the humanities, will enable publication of a new biography of poet Robert Frost; a book on the social, cultural, and political dimensions of World War II as told through the stories of passengers aboard the Pan Am airplane Yankee Clipper, which crashed in Lisbon in 1943; and a history of the women who shaped the Transcendentalist movement.
Additional funding will support ongoing work digitizing newspapers published from 1690 onwards in Alaska, Alabama, Colorado, Maryland, Maine, and New Jersey for inclusion in Chronicling America, the online database of historic American newspapers housed at the Library of Congress.
New NEH awards will support teams of scholars engaged in cutting-edge humanities research. Funded projects include an interdisciplinary investigation of the origins of writing in Mesoamerica informed by recent archaeological discoveries, and the use of computational linguistics to establish if unattributed editorials in the Brooklyn Daily Times were written by Walt Whitman. Researchers will use new NEH grants to create an online historical atlas of the communities connected to the copper mining industry in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula between 1880 and 1950, and to uncover obscured and palimpsestic contents of a medieval book of chants through multispectral imaging.
Other grants will underwrite work on documentary films, including an American Masters documentary on the life and legacy of conservative intellectual William F. Buckley Jr. Grants will also support two short documentaries on North and South Carolina’s Rosenwald Schools, which educated black youth in the Jim Crow era.
Awards for museum exhibitions will support “Crafting America,” a traveling exhibition at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art on American craft since 1940, a permanent exhibition on Yiddish language and culture at the National Yiddish Book Center, as well as an exhibition at the Detroit Historical Society examining life in the Motor City in the 1920s amidst a booming automobile industry and illicit alcohol trade.
Grants by Category
NEH awarded grants in the following categories:
10 grants, totaling $1.6 million
Digital Humanities Advancement
16 grants, totaling $2.8 million
Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities
5 grants, totaling $1.2 million
Landmarks of American History and Culture
11 grants, totaling $2.1 million
Media Projects: Development and Production Grants
7 grants, totaling $1.7 million
National Digital Newspaper Program
6 grants, totaling $1.4 million
Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions
68 grants, totaling $639,093
Public Humanities Projects: Exhibitions, Historic Places, and Humanities Discussions
18 grants, totaling $2.6 million
25 grants, totaling $1.4 million
Scholarly Editions and Translations
20 grants, totaling $4.4
2 grants, totaling $370,000
Summer Seminars and Institutes for Higher Education Faculty
11 grants, totaling $1.9 million
Summer Seminars and Institutes for K-12 Educators
24 grants, totaling $3.6 million
Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections
14 grants, totaling $1.9 million
Direct to Complete List of Grants (by Location)
45 pages; PDF.
Direct to Complete Announcment