WASHINGTON (April 20, 2015) — The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today announced a new grant program, called “Common Heritage,” that will bring to light historical records and artifacts currently hidden in family attics and basements across the country and make them digitally available to the wider public and for posterity.
NEH invites historical societies, libraries, archives, museums, colleges and other local institutions to apply for the Common Heritage grant program, the first federal grant program of its kind. Grants will support day-long events, organized by community cultural institutions, in which members of the public will be invited to share materials important to their family or community histories, such as photographs, artifacts, family letters, and works of art.
These items will be digitized, along with descriptive information and context provided by the community attendees. With the owner’s permission, the digitized materials will be made publicly available through the institution’s online collections. Contributors will receive a free digital copy of their items to take home, along with the original materials.
Grants will also be used for public programming – including lectures, exhibits, discussion programs, and film screenings – that celebrates and expands knowledge of the community’s past and the diverse histories of its members.
“We know that America’s cultural heritage isn’t found only in libraries and museums,” said NEH Chairman William Adams, “but in our homes, in our family histories, and the stories and objects we pass down to our children. NEH’s new Common Heritage grant program aims to capture this vitally important part of our country’s heritage and preserve it for future generations.”
Application guidelines and a list of FAQs for the Common Heritage program are available at www.neh.gov. The application deadline for the initial cycle of Common Heritage grants is June 25, 2015. The first round of Common Heritage digitization days is expected to take place in early 2016.
The new Common Heritage grant program is part of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ agency-wide initiative The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square, which seeks to demonstrate and enhance the role and significance of the humanities and humanities scholarship in public life.
NEH’s Common Heritage program will award grants of up to $12,000 to community cultural organizations to coordinate community events and ensure that a wide range of historical materials can be digitized and contextualized through public programming.
NEH program staff from the Divisions of Preservation & Access and Public Programs will conduct a webinar for interested applicants on Tuesday, May 5 at 4 PM (EST).
NEH Common Heritage grants webinar information:
May 5, 4-4:30 PM (EST)
Access code: 232-247-517
You can also dial in by phone at: (872) 240-3312
I would like more explanation about exactly how the digitization will be accomplished. Will the NEH send people to our town to do that or will we need to purchase equipment and expert photographer to do that? Also, how will the public access the information once it has been digitized?
I think it is a wonderful concept and we hope to do some work here, with a cooperative effort of our CLG (historic preservation board), museum district, and local historical society.
Clara – I think you may have to check with the NEH on those specific questions. If you go to the FAQs, there’s contact information at the bottom of the second page. http://www.neh.gov/files/grants/common-heritage-faqs.pdf