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NEH Announces $30 Million for 238 Humanities Projects Nationwide

National Endowment for the Humanities Logo

Congratulations to the New York winners of the grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Grant awards support the preservation of historic collections, humanities exhibitions and documentaries, scholarly research, and educational opportunities for teachers. Listed further below are New York State the recipients of the NEH grants. 

July Grant Announcement

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 29, 2020) — The 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.

“These challenging times underscore how important the humanities are to making American culture and world history relatable across generations,” said NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede. “NEH is proud to award hundreds of grants to keep our nation’s scholars, students, teachers, and citizens moving forward in pursuit of new knowledge and understanding.”

Forty-six grants for summer seminars, institutes, and workshops will provide professional enrichment and research opportunities for K–12 schoolteachers and college faculty on topics ranging from the cultural legacy of the Federal Writers’ Project and the history of Santa Fe and New Mexico’s pueblos, to the Chinese-American experience in California and the life and writing of Zora Neale Hurston.

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.

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.


41 projects from New York were awarded $7,872,726


New York State Archives Partnership Trust - Outright: $43,513
[Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections]
Project Director: Maria Holden
Project Title: New York State’s Collection in the Balance: Planning HVAC Optimization at the Cultural Education Center
Project Description: A planning project to study HVAC system optimization for improved climate control in the Cultural Education Center building, which holds the collections of the state museum, library, and archives. Highlights include records of the colonial and state government of New York from 1630 to the present, in both the Dutch and English languages, art collections, significant Shaker collections, and eighteenth-century furniture. The Center also holds contemporary collections, including extensive suffrage materials, as well as the largest collection of artifacts pertaining to September 11, 2001.

Shaker Heritage Society - Outright: $6,870
[Preservation Assistance Grants]
Project Director: Johanna Batman Project
Title: Environmental Assessment Program
Project Description: A preservation assessment by the Landmark Facilities Group to recommend improved environmental control for the main collection storage area of the Shaker Meeting House, a clapboard structure dating from 1848, along with the purchase and installation of dataloggers. The collection encompasses 600 to 700 objects (furniture, textiles, archival material, and household objects and workshop tools), postcards, ephemera associated with the Watervliet community from the mid-nineteenth century through the 1930’s, organization records, and historical photographs.


Samantha Barbas Outright: - $30,000
[Public Scholars]
SUNY Research Foundation, University at Buffalo Project
Title: New York Times v. Sullivan: The Landmark Case that Shaped Politics and the Press as We Know It
Project Description: Writing a book presenting a comprehensive history of the Supreme Court case New York Times v. Sullivan (1964), which established the current legal standard of libel against public officials.


Adam Plunkett - Outright: $60,000
[Public Scholars]
Independent Scholar
Project Title: A Biographical Essay on the Life and Work of American Poet Robert Frost (1874–1963)
Project Description: Writing resulting in a critical biography of American poet Robert Frost (1874–1963).

Brooklyn Historical Society - Outright: $75,000
[Exhibitions: Planning]
Project Director: Deborah Schwartz
Project Title: A People’s History of Brooklyn Project Description: Planning of a permanent, immersive exhibition on the history of Brooklyn, utilizing unused spaces in the museum’s historic building.

Independent Feature Project, Inc. - Outright: $325,000
[Media Projects Production]
Project Director: Zeva Oelbaum Project Title: Loïe Fuller: Obsessed with Light
Project Description: Production of a 90-minute documentary exploring the life and creative legacy of performing artist Loïe Fuller (1862–1928).

New York Foundation for the Arts - Outright: $75,000
[Media Projects Development]
Project Director: Oren Rudavsky
Project Title: Luis Muñoz Marín: The Making of a Modern Puerto Rico Project Description: Development of a 90-minute film on the life of Luis Muñoz Marin (1898–1980), the first democratically elected governor of Puerto Rico.


St. Lawrence University - Outright: $9,082
[Preservation Assistance Grants]
Project Director: Catherine Tedford
Project Title: St. Lawrence University Brush Gallery Preservation Needs Assessment Project Description: An assessment of preservation needs and development of recommendations for use of building space at the Brush Art Gallery. Within the wideranging collection of over 7,000 objects, including a large photography collection. These images range from works by American masters to those by amateurs in a series on American G.I.’s and nurses during the Vietnam War.

Cold Spring Harbor

Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities - Outright: $10,000
[Preservation Assistance Grants]
Project Director: Lauren Brincat
Project Title: Preservation Long Island Emergency Preparedness and Response Program
Project Description: The hiring of a consultant from the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts to develop an Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan for the five properties that house Preservation Long Island’s humanities collections, as well as the purchase of emergency supplies for each site. The project would protect a collection of 3,000 objects made or used on Long Island from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, which range from an eighteenth-century silk gown and shoes to the original 1930s road signs for Robert Moses’s Northern State Parkway. The proposed plan would also safeguard the holdings of the archives: one hundred maps; thousands of twentiethcentury images; tourism guidebooks, planning reports, and real estate brochures; and personal papers from prominent Long Island families.

Whaling Museum Society, Inc. - Outright: $10,000
[Preservation Assistance Grants]
Project Director: Elizabeth Marriott
Project Title: Improving the Storage Conditions for the Collections
Project Description: The purchase of shelving, preservation supplies, and environmental monitoring equipment that would help to preserve a collection of 6,000 objects documenting the nineteenth-century whaling industry and history of Cold Spring Harbor’s growth as a maritime port, one of the three whaling ports on Long Island. The collections include whaling weapons and tools, photographs, correspondence, journals, ship logs, crew lists, and navigational aids.


SUNY Research Foundation, College at Cortland - Outright: $189,134
[Institutes for School Teachers]
Project Director: Kevin Sheets
Project Title: Common Ground: Americans and Their Land During the Gilded Age and Progressive Era
Project Description: A two-week institute for 25 teachers to examine the Gilded Age and Progressive Era through a comparative place-based study of New York City and the Adirondacks.

Glens Falls

Hyde Collection Trust - Outright: $10,000
Preservation Assistance Grants]
Project Director: Jonathan Canning Project Title: Collection Preservation
Project Description: The purchase of preservation supplies, including shelf lining, file folders, and storage boxes for sculptures, prints, and photographs. The project will also replace lighting in historic Hyde House with LED lights and install ultraviolet light sleeves in art storage to help reduce exposure. The restored historic house was constructed in 1912 and exhibits portions of the original Hyde family collection of European and American art in all media as well as special, traveling exhibitions.


Long Island University - Outright: $220,000
[Institutes for College and University Teachers]
Project Director: Deborah Mutnick
Project Title: The New Deal Era’s Federal Writers’ Project: History, Politics, and Legacy Project Description: A four-week institute for 25 college and university faculty to study the history, accomplishments, and cultural legacy of the Federal Writers’ Project.

New York

Teagle Foundation - Outright: $3,000,000
[Cooperative Agreements and Special Projects (Education)]
Project Director: Andrew Delbanco
Project Title: The “Cornerstone” Approach to Reinvigorating General Education Project Description: A five-year cooperative agreement to develop and implement new humanities pathways in undergraduate education.

Academy of American Poets - Outright: $10,000
[Preservation Assistance Grants]
Project Director: Jennifer Benka Project Title: Academy of American Poets Archive
Project Description: A preservation assessment of the archives of the Academy of American Poets. The collection of over 500 linear feet dates from its establishment to the present and includes writings and correspondence of notable American poets, such as E. E. Cummings, Lucille Clifton, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, and Sylvia Plath, as well as issues of the organization’s magazine, American Poets, photographs of poets, and audio recordings of poetry readings.

Avis Berman - Outright: $60,000
[Public Scholars]
Archives of American Art
Project Title: A Biography of American Artist Roy Lichtenstein (1923–1997)
Project Description: Preparation of a biography of American painter Roy Lichtenstein (1923–1997).

City Lore, Inc. - Outright: $180,000
[Institutes for School Teachers]
Project Director: Sahar Muradi
Project Title: A Reverence for Words: Understanding Muslim Cultures through the Arts Project Description: A two-week institute for 30 K–12 teachers on Muslim poetry, music, and visual art.

CUNY Research Foundation, Graduate School and University Center - Outright: $325,000 Match: $50,000
[Digital Humanities Advancement Grants]
Project Director: Matthew Gold; Douglas Armato (co-project director)
Project Title: Digital Publishing for Open Pedagogy Project Description: Expanding the technical infrastructure in the Manifold digital publishing platform to enable the creation and publication of free open educational resources in the humanities.

Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History - Outright: $111,947
[Institutes for School Teachers]
Project Director: Denver Brunsman
Project Title: The Making of America: Colonial Era to Reconstruction Project Description: A one-week institute for 30 K–8 teachers on United States history from the colonial era through Reconstruction, to be held in Washington, D.C.

Interfaith Center of New York - Outright: $211,050
[Institutes for School Teachers]
Project Director: Henry Goldschmidt
Project Title: Religious Worlds of New York: Teaching the Everyday Life of American Religious Diversity Project Description: A three-week institute for 25 teachers on the diversity of religions in the U.S. by way of examining the lived experience of six religions in New York City.

Ithaka Harbors, Inc. - Outright: $248,518
[Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities]
Project Director: Nathan Kelber
Project Title: The Text Analysis Pedagogy Institute Project Description: A series of workshops, to be hosted at the University of Virginia and the University of Arizona, on approaches for teaching computational text analysis.

Joan & Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University - Outright: $10,000
[Preservation Assistance Grants]
Project Director: George Makari
Project Title: Rehousing Psychiatry Collections at the Oskar Diethelm Library
Project Description: The purchase of preservation supplies to rehouse 612 feet of archival materials documenting the history of psychiatry. Materials include the papers of influential figures, such as Thomas Salmon and Clifford and Clara Beers, as well as the records of the National Committee for Mental Hygiene (1909–1966). Other collections include items from mental health advocates, Dorothea Dix, Thomas Kirkbride, and Isaac Ray, as well as from Donald Winnicott, the British physician who was internationally recognized for his work in pediatric psychiatry and invented the term “transitional object” (e.g. blanket or teddy bear).

Maria Loh - Outright: $60,000
[Public Scholars]
CUNY Research Foundation, Hunter College
Project Title: Representations of the Early Modern Sky
Project Description: Preparation of a book on the renderings and multiple meanings of the sky in European painting from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries.

National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center Foundation, Inc. - Outright: $200,000
[Exhibitions: Implementation]
Project Director: Cliff Chanin
Project Title: Traveling Exhibition and Public Programming to 20 Libraries Across the United States in Recognition of the 20th Anniversary of September 11, 2001 Project Description: Implementation of a panel exhibition, public programming, and librarian training for twenty libraries across the country.

New School - Outright: $200,000
[Media Projects Production]
Project Director: Alison Mears
Project Title: Trace Material
Project Description: Production of six 30-minute episodes on the social history of plastic products.

New York University - Outright: $49,998
[Collaborative Research]
Project Director: Alexander Jones; Richard Jasnow (co-project director)
Project Title: The Ancient Sciences in Cross-Cultural Perspective
Project Description: Planning and holding a conference on the ancient sciences in comparative perspective between the Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, and Roman worlds.

New-York Historical Society - Outright: $161,860
[Institutes for School Teachers]
Project Director: Mia Nagawiecki
Project Title: Early Encounters in the American Colonies
Project Description: A two-week institute for 30 K–12 teachers on the history of women in colonial America.

Rachel Kousser - Outright: $60,000
[Public Scholars]
CUNY Research Foundation, Graduate School and University Center
Project Title: The Last Years of Alexander the Great (330–323 BCE)
Project Description: Research and writing of a book on the final years of Alexander the Great (356–323 BCE).

Rubin Museum of Art - Outright: $75,000
[Exhibitions: Planning]
Project Director: Elena Pakhoutova
Project Title: Himalayan Art: Journeys of Discoveries
Project Description: Planning of a traveling exhibition about Himalayan art, history, religion, and culture.

Sara Franklin - Outright: $60,000
[Public Scholars]
New York University
Project Title: The Life and Work of Judith Jones, the 20th-Century Editor Who Changed the Way America Cooked, Ate, and Read
Project Description: Research and writing leading to a biography of American cookbook and literary editor Judith Jones (1924–2017)

Theatre for a New Audience - Outright: $189,536
[Institutes for School Teachers]
Project Director: Kathleen Dorman
Project Title: Teaching Shakespeare’s Plays Through Scholarship and Performance
Project Description: A two-week institute for 25 middle and high school teachers on the text and performance of Shakespeare’s plays.

WNET - Outright: $500,000
[Media Projects Production]
Project Director: Michael Kantor
Project Title: American Masters—Buckley
Project Description: Production of a 120-minute film about the life and legacy of William F. Buckley Jr.

Sabiha Al Khemir Foundation, Inc. - Outright: $75,000
[Exhibitions: Planning]
Project Director: Sabiha Al Khemir
Project Title: Under the Same Sky: Birds in Art and Myth Traveling Exhibition
Project Description: Development of a traveling exhibition of artworks from multiple traditions and periods featuring birds.


Bruce Weber - Outright: $60,000
[Public Scholars]
Independent Scholar
Project Title: American Novelist E. L. Doctorow (1931–2015): A Writing Life
Project Description: Research and writing leading to a biography of American author E. L. Doctorow (1931–2015).

Pocantico Hills

Historic Hudson Valley - Outright: $189,384
[Landmarks of American History]
Project Director: Elizabeth Bradley
Project Title: Slavery in the Colonial North
Project Description: Two one-week workshops for 72 K–12 educators on the history of slavery in the colonial north.


University of Rochester - Outright: $299,763
[Scholarly Editions and Translations]
Project Director: Thomas Hahn
Project Title: Middle English Text Series
Project Description: Preparation for print and digital publication of six volumes of medieval literary texts (thirteenth to fifteenth centuries) and implementation of an updated digital interface to enhance and expand user access.

Staten Island 

Friends of Alice Austen House, Inc. - Outright: $9,145
[Preservation Assistance Grants]
Project Director: Victoria Munro
Project Title: Improving Storage Capacity for Collections Preservation
Project Description: The purchase of equipment to improve climate control, creation of additional space for storage, preservation training for staff, and implementation of inventory management practices at the Alice Austen House to preserve its collection of objects, letters, photographs, and audio recordings related to the life and work of Alice Austen, part of the first generation of women photographers in America; Gertrude Tate, her partner of 53 years; and their friends and family.

Stony Brook

SUNY Research Foundation, Stony Brook - Outright: $99,490
[Seminars for School Teachers]
Project Director: Andrew Newman
Project Title: The History of Literature Instruction in American Schools
Project Description: A two-week seminar for 16 English teachers (grades 6–12) on the history of literature instruction in the twentieth century.

Suffern Stone

Lantern Films - Outright: $75,000
[Media Projects Development]
Project Director: Sarah Mondale
Project Title: The History of American Tourism
Project Description: Development of a four-part documentary series exploring the history and impact of American tourism. Media Projects Development]


Fort Ticonderoga Association - Outright: $92,257
[Institutes for School Teachers]
Project Director: Richard Strum
Project Title: For the Common Defense: Subjects, Citizens, and America’s Military Origins, 1609–1815
Project Description: A two-week institute for 25 middle and high school teachers on the origins and development of American military institutions.


A full list of the 238 grants by geographic location is available here. 

National Endowment for the Humanities: Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: