National Endowment for the Humanities Announces $31.5 Million in Grants

A PBS documentary on the 400-year history of Shakespeare’s plays, a New York Public Library summer program for educators on efforts to secure equitable access to education in Harlem in the 20th century, and research for a book on the history of red hair are among 226 beneficiaries of new grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities announced on Tuesday.

The grants, which total $31.5 million and are the third round awarded this year, will support projects at museums, libraries, universities and historic sites in 45 states and Washington, D.C., as well as in Canada, England and the Netherlands.

Such projects include a documentary, to be co-produced by Louisiana Public Broadcasting, about the Colfax Massacre — named after the town and parish where dozens of former slaves were killed during Reconstruction. Another, at Penn State, uses computational methods to analyze the clouds in landscapes by John Constable and to trace the adoption of his Realist techniques by other 19th-century European artists. Funding will also go toward research for a book examining how different cultures have envisioned Jesus, both in his own time and throughout history, by Elaine Pagels, a historian of religion at Princeton University.

Shelly C. Lowe, the endowment’s chairwoman, said in a statement that the projects, which include educational programming for high school and college students, “will foster the exchange of ideas and increase access to humanities knowledge, resources and experiences.”

In New York, 31 projects at the state’s cultural organizations will receive $4.6 million in grants. Funding will support the creation of a new permanent exhibition exploring 400 years of Brooklyn history at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, as well as books about St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York during the height of the AIDS crisis and the Hospital of the Innocents, a 600-year-old children’s care institution in Florence, Italy.

Funding will also go toward the development of a podcast about the Federal Writers’ Project, a U.S. government initiative that provided jobs for out-of-work writers during the Great Depression, by the Washington-based Stone Soup Productions. Another grant will benefit a history of the Cherokee Nation being co-authored by Julie Reed, a historian at Penn State, and Rose Stremlau, a historian at Davidson College in North Carolina.

The grants will also benefit the Peabody Collections, one of the oldest African American library collections in the country, at Hampton University, and a book by John Lisle on a 1980s lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency over its Cold War-era MK-Ultra program, which involved experiments in mind control.

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