NEH Announces Last Grants for 2017

Programs for digitization, preservation, education and more are supported with $39.3 million in funding

The revolving gun turret from “Ironclad” ship USS Monitor is lifted from the ocean floor. An NEH grant will go toward a conservation initiative to preserve objects from the Civil War-era ship. PJF Military Collection / Alamy Stock Photo

The National Endowment of the Humanities has announced its last round of grants for 2017. The $39.3 million in grants for this round went to 245 separate projects, varying widely in their subjects.

Almost $6 million will go toward ongoing projects to collect, translate and publish historic writings, ranging from the earliest surviving work in the Kannada language to an ongoing effort to digitize all of George Washington's letters, reports Henri Neuendorf for artnet News

More than $1 million of the funding will help support the work of 28 "public scholars," reports Ron Charles for the Washington PostThese academics are working to publish nonfiction books for general audiences about their topics, and the projects include a biography of the first American woman to receive a medical degree, a narrative history of American comedy in the interwar period and a "definitive" biography of Sylvia Plath.

Other projects supported include efforts to preserve historical places and artifacts, reports Jennifer Schuessler in the New York Times, including objects from the sunken Civil War submarine the U.S.S. Monitor and works from the Philbrook Museum of Art in Oklahoma. 

Additionally, funding was allocated toward educational projects, including more than $2 million to help revitalize Native American languages and several documentaries that will look at topics including the efforts to pass the 19th Amendment, the history of the traveling circus and the Atlantic slave trade.

Created in 1965, the NEH seeks to support, extend and preserve the reach of culture and arts to the American people. Many of its grants go to smaller institutions that often don't have the benefit of wealthy regular donors, and they can help push larger projects or exhibitions from the drawing board to the real world, reports Helen Stoilas of The Art Newspaper.

The NEH was one of the 19 independent agencies whose budgets were targeted for elimination under President Donald Trump's first federal budget proposal. In May, Congress guaranteed funding for the NEH and National Endowment for the Arts through the 2017 fiscal year as part of a larger omnibus spending bill. Last month, the full House Appropriations Committee approved $145 million in funding for the NEA and NEH in the 2018 fiscal year (a small decrease from funding from this year, which totaled $150 million). The bill has yet to go to a full House vote. If it passes, it will move to the Senate for consideration.

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