Much history is still to be discovered in America’s attics and closets. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has announced a new grant program to help discover these hidden gems. “Common Heritage” is the theme for an ongoing effort that will allow families throughout the country to contribute to public history in their local communities. Seeking to help people preserve family and community photographs, artifacts, documents, and works of art, the program will provide financial support to digitize these items during events at local organizations.
With the owner’s permission, the digitized materials, along with descriptive information and context provided by the community attendees, will be made publicly available through the sponsor’s online collections. Contributors will receive a free digital copy of their items to take home, along with the original materials.
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 at which members of the public will be invited to share materials important to their family or community histories. Common Heritage grants will also be used for public programs – including lectures, exhibits, discussion programs, and film screenings – that celebrate and expand knowledge of the community’s past and the diverse histories of its members.
NEH’s Common Heritage program will award grants of up to $12,000 to cultural organizations to coordinate community events and ensure that a wide range of historical materials can be digitized and contextualized through public programming.
Guidelines 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, for projects that 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 the role and significance of the humanities and humanities scholarship in public life.