A “living history museum” based on the life of Dred Scott, digitization of books and manuscripts distributed from the Philippines in the 18th century, a Cherokee translation work, and an exhibit on the history of jazz and hip-hop in Queens, NY, include to the 208 projects nationwide that are receiving new grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The grants, totaling $24.7 million, will support individual science 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, supported by funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Some of the new awards are dedicated to infrastructure. One $500,000 grant will go to the Esperanza Peace and Justice Institute in San Antonio to support the renovation of seven historic buildings that will be used as a cultural center targeting the immigrant communities in the city’s Westside neighborhood. A $20,000 grant will support digital upgrades at Kansas State University’s Chapman Center for Rural Studies, which aims to highlight the history of the Great Plains communities at risk of being forgotten.
There are also a number of grants to historically black colleges and universities, including about $130,000 to Oakwood University in Huntsville, Ala., to create the living museum dedicated to Dred Scott, the enslaved man whose lawsuit seeking freedom resulted in the infamous Supreme Court of 1857 rule stating that African Americans can never be citizens of the state.
Other awards include nearly $45,000 to the University of Virginia for establishing a database of 18th- and 19th-century North American weather records, including the detailed daily reports made 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 the Digital Archive of American Indian Languages Preservation and Perseverance, which collects handwritten material in the Cherokee syllables, a writing system that was made in the early 19th century.
In New York City, the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens is receiving $30,000 to support a digital map 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 the chia oil found in Mexican lacquerware and paintings by new Spanish artists in Mexico from the 16th to 19th centuries, to aid in the conservation and provenance research of works in Mexico. museums around the world. (The museum will partner with Grupo Artesanal Tecomaque, an indigenous collective in Mexico that teaches sustainable lacquerware practices.)
While most scholarships are aimed at institutions, there are also a few dozen scholarships to individual scientists, some of which are “who knew?” topics such as the history of Louchébem, described by the donation as “a secret, highly endangered language spoken by Parisian butchers since the 13th century”, 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 nominated Shelly C. Lowe, a higher education scholar and longtime administrator, as its next principal. If confirmed by the Senate, Lowe, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, will be the first Native American to head the bureau.