The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has announced a May 2017 deadline for its Common Heritage program, which offers grants to preserve and understand our American cultural heritage through events to digitize local historical materials while also providing public programming to interpret community experiences, histories, and identities.
The Common Heritage program supports the hosting of day-long events organized by community cultural institutions, such as libraries, where members of the public are invited to attend.
At these events, experienced staff digitize community historical materials brought in by the public. Project staff also record descriptive information—provided by community attendees—about the historical materials. Contributors are 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 can be included in the institutions’ collections.
Materials eligible for digitization and public commemoration under the grant program include:
- Historical photographs
- Family letters
- Art works
- Audiovisual recordings
Common Heritage projects must also present public programming that expands knowledge of the community’s heritage. Public programs could include:
- Panel presentations
- Reading and discussion
- Gallery tours
- Screening and discussion of relevant films
- Presentations by a historian
- Initiatives for families and children
- Comments by curators about items brought in by the public
- Workshops on preserving heritage materials
These public programs provide a framework for a deeper understanding of the community members’ shared or divergent heritage. The programs may take place before, during, or after the day of the digitization event.
Applicants may also include in their proposals a topic around which the event and the public programming would be organized.
The maximum award for these grants is $12,000. Last year the Common Heritage program received 201 applications and made 38 awards, for a funding ratio of 19%.
The deadline for applications is May 11, 2017, for projects beginning in January 2018.
Updated guidelines for the 2017 proposals will be posted on the NEH website at least two months prior to the May deadline, so watch for those updates from NEH in March. You can read the program overview and find the 2016 guidelines here:
Program questions should be directed to NEH’s Division of Preservation and Access at (202) 606-8570 or email@example.com. Applicants who are deaf or hard of hearing can contact NEH via TDD at 1-866-372-2930.
Backstage Library Works can provide the on-site expertise and equipment for digitizing local materials at your one-day event. For help in defining your project’s scope and calculating costs, please contact your Backstage representative and ask about DART on-site digitization services. Call us at 1-800-288-1265, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Much of the content for this post comes from the NEH Common Heritage program web page: