National Endowment for the Humanities: Common Heritage Program
America’s cultural heritage is preserved not only in libraries, museums, archives, and other community organizations, but also in all of our homes, family histories, and life stories. The Common Heritage program aims to capture this vitally important part of the country’s heritage and preserve it for future generations. Common Heritage will support both the digitization of cultural heritage materials and the organization of public programming at community events that explore these materials as a window on a community’s history and culture.
The Common Heritage program recognizes that members of the public—in partnership with libraries, museums, archives, and historical organizations—have much to contribute to the understanding of our cultural mosaic. Together, such institutions and the public can be effective partners in the appreciation and stewardship of our common heritage.
The program supports events organized by community cultural institutions, which members of the public will be invited to attend. At these events experienced staff will digitize the community historical materials brought in by the public. Project staff will also record descriptive information—provided by community attendees—about the historical materials. Contributors will be given a free digital copy of their items to take home, along with the original materials. With the owner’s permission, digital copies of these materials would be included in the institutions’ collections. Historical photographs, artifacts, documents, family letters, art works, and audiovisual recordings are among the many items eligible for digitization and public commemoration.
Projects must also provide community outreach via public events that would expand understanding of the community’s heritage. Public programs could include lectures, panels, reading and discussion groups, special gallery tours, screening and discussion of relevant films, presentations by a historian, special initiatives for families and children, interpretation by curators about items brought in by the public, workshops on preserving heritage materials, or other activities that bring humanities perspectives on heritage materials to community audiences. These public programs should provide a framework for a deeper understanding of the community members’ shared or divergent heritage. The programs may take place before, during, and/or after the day of the digitization event.
Amount: Grants of up to $12,000 each will be awarded for a period of 18 months.
Eligibility: U.S. nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status; state and local governmental agencies; and federally recognized Indian tribal governments.
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