National Endowment for the Humanities announces $ 24.7 million in new grants

A “living history museum” based on the life of Dred Scott, the digitization of books and manuscripts scattered from the Philippines in the 18th century, a Cherokee translation effort and an exhibition on the history of jazz and hip-hop in Queens, NY, are among 208 projects across the country receiving new grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The grants, which total $ 24.7 million, support individual academic projects and collaborative efforts, including initiatives and exhibitions at cultural institutions ranging from local history sites to behemoths like the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The awards are part of the agency’s regular grant cycle. Last year, the agency also distributed more than $ 140 million in additional grants backed by American Rescue Plan Act funding.

Some of the new prices are dedicated to infrastructure. A grant, $ 500,000, goes to the Esperanza Institute for Peace and Justice in San Antonio to support the renovation of seven historic buildings that will be used as a cultural center focused on immigrant communities in the city’s Westside neighborhood. . A $ 20,000 grant will support digital upgrades at the Chapman Center for Rural Studies at Kansas State University, which aims to shine a light on the history of Great Plains communities that are at risk of being forgotten.

There are also a number of grants to historically black colleges and universities, including approximately $ 130,000 to Oakwood University in Huntsville, Ala., To establish the living museum dedicated to Dred Scott, the slave man whose trial in quest for freedom culminated in the infamous 1857 Supreme Court ruling declaring that African Americans could never be citizens.

Other awards include nearly $ 45,000 to the University of Virginia, for the creation of a database of 18th and 19th century North American weather records, including the detailed daily reports compiled by Thomas Jefferson between July 1776 and the week before his death in July 1826. There is also a $ 100,000 grant to Northeastern University in Boston, to support the translation of its Native American Language Preservation and Perseverance Digital Archives, which collects handwritten material in the Cherokee syllabary, a writing system created in the early 19th century.

In New York, the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens will receive $ 30,000 to support a digital mapping project exploring the history of jazz and hip-hop in the neighborhood. The Metropolitan Museum of Art will receive $ 350,000 to support the biochemical analysis of chia oil found in Mexican lacquers and paintings by Spanish Revival artists in Mexico from the 16th to the 19th century, to aid in curatorial research and provenance of works preserved in museums around the world. (The museum will collaborate with Grupo Artesanal Tecomaque, an indigenous collective from Mexico that teaches sustainable lacquer practices.)

While most grants are intended for institutions, there are also several dozen individual investigator grants, some supporting “who knew?” “Subjects like the story of Louchébem, described by the foundation as” a secret and highly endangered language spoken by Parisian butchers since the 13th century “, which was also used by some members of the French Resistance during World War II .

The agency has an annual budget of approximately $ 167 million. In October, President Biden appointed Shelly C. Lowe, a long-time higher education scholar and administrator, as his next director. If confirmed by the Senate, Lowe, a registered member of the Navajo Nation, will be the first Native American to lead the agency.

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