The National Endowment for the Humanities Grants

$32.8 Million to Support 213 Projects in 44 States

By: - Dec 16, 2020

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today announced $32.8 million in grants to support 213 humanities projects in 44 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. These grants will safeguard extensive collections on Appalachian history at Kentucky’s Appalshop archives, enable production of an interactive timeline of African-American music at Carnegie Hall, and support the use of multispectral imaging and X-ray spectroscopy on archaeological objects to better understand color in the ancient world.

“As we conclude an extremely difficult year for our nation and its cultural institutions, it is heartening to see so many excellent projects being undertaken by humanities scholars, researchers, curators, and educators,” said NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede. “These new NEH grants will foster intellectual inquiry, promote broad engagement with history, literature, and other humanities fields, and expand access to cultural collections and resources for all Americans.” 

New NEH Infrastructure and Capacity Building grants, which leverage federal funds to incentivize private investment in the nation’s cultural institutions, will support projects such as the construction of public program space at the Korean Cultural Center of Chicago; the creation of a Yoknapatawpha Humanities Center in Oxford, Mississippi; ADA-compliant accessibility and site improvement at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, Connecticut; and digital infrastructure upgrades to the “Freedom on the Move” database of fugitive slave advertisements from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century U.S. newspapers at Cornell University.  

Several grants support the use of new technologies to bring history alive for public audiences or facilitate advanced research in the humanities. Newly funded projects include production of a smartphone app and online portal that use augmented reality to provide historical and cultural information and context to visitors to the new National World War I Memorial under construction in Washington, D.C., and the development of a virtual reality game that teaches students about the history and construction of the Hoover Dam.  

Additional grants will support the use of machine learning to improve automatic text recognition of handwritten Persian and Arabic manuscripts to make their contents more widely available to scholars and students, and the development of computational methods for modeling changes in Los Angeles’s postwar urban landscape using photographs by artist Ed Ruscha in combination with newspaper, census, and other historical records. 

This cycle also includes the first awards made under the NEH/AHRC New Directions for Digital Scholarship in Cultural Institutions program, a joint initiative between NEH and the U.K. Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to advance digital scholarship at museums, libraries, and archives. These new awards will fund international teams of U.S. and British researchers working on projects such as the digital identification and analysis of watermarks on manuscripts by Isaac Newton, and the refinement of spectral imaging methods for determining the geographic origins of cultural heritage materials with the aim of illuminating historical patterns of global trade and cultural exchange.

Other newly awarded grants will support vital research and training programs intended to improve preservation of the nation’s valuable cultural heritage. Among these are a partnership between the University of Hawai’i, Honolulu, and the American Council of the Blind and Helen Keller National Center to develop best practices for creating audio descriptions of humanities collections for blind, visually impaired, and deaf-blind users. Additional awards will create a Utah Community Preservation Program to assist Utah institutions in collections preservation and stewardship, and support workshops and other training opportunities related to the curation of Indigenous heritage materials through the University of Wisconsin.

Twenty-one NEH Humanities Initiatives grants will advance curricular innovations and enhance educational resources at colleges and universities. These include the creation of a digital archive at Capitol Community College on local African-American history in Hartford, Connecticut, for use in community college and high school classes; the formation of a new minor in applied ethics for associate degree students in health, technology, and general studies at Trocaire College in Buffalo, New York; and development of a curriculum and digital educational resources on Omaha tribal culture at Nebraska Indian Community College.

NEH Fellowships and Awards for Faculty will support humanities scholars in researching and writing books on connections between the Black Death and the origins of the Italian Renaissance, the influence of John Milton’s blindness on the poetic language of Paradise Lost, the creation of American Catholicism, and a cultural history of the telephone in America. New NEH-Mellon Fellowships for Digital Publication, an NEH partnership with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support scholarship in digital formats, will fund work on a virtual reality experience documenting the construction and architectural changes to the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome over two millennia, enable publication of the first scholarly edition of the correspondence and writings of American Imagist poet Amy Lowell, and support a digital study of nineteenth-century Black newspapers in Ohio and their role in civic life.

Additional discretionary funding was awarded through NEH Chairman’s Grants to help repair or replace damaged historical statues of abolitionist Frederick Douglass in Buffalo, New York, and two works on the State Capitol grounds in Madison, Wisconsin, depicting Union Colonel Hans Christian Heg and an allegorical statue honoring women’s suffrage. Recent Chairman’s Grants also funded the development of a virtual tour exploring Native Pocumtuck heritage at Historic Deerfield, Massachusetts, and an effort to digitize the history of Cuban-Americans at the Cuban Studies Institute in Florida.

A full list of grants by geographic location is available here.

Grants were awarded in the following categories:

Awards for Faculty

Support advanced research in the humanities by teachers at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-serving Institutions, and Tribal Colleges and Universities.

21 grants, totaling $987,500

Digital Humanities Advancement Grants  

Support the implementation of innovative digital humanities projects that have successfully completed a start-up phase and demonstrated their value to the field. Digital Humanities Advancement Grants receive partial funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  

13 grants, totaling $2.3 million  

Digital Projects for the Public Grants 

Support projects such as websites, mobile applications, games, and virtual environments that significantly contribute to the public’s engagement with humanities ideas.  

17 grants, totaling $1.7 million 


Support college and university teachers and independent scholars pursuing advanced research.  

71 grants, totaling $3.9 million 

Fellowships for Advanced Social Science Research on Japan  

A joint activity of the Japan–United States Friendship Commission (JUSFC) and NEH. Awards support research on modern Japanese society and political economy, Japan’s international relations, and U.S.–Japan relations.  

3 grants, totaling $180,000 

Humanities Initiatives Grants 

Strengthen the teaching and study of the humanities in higher education through the development or enhancement of humanities programs, courses, and resources. Grant programs are offered for colleges and universities, community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-serving Institutions, and Tribal Colleges and Universities. 

21 grants, totaling $2.8 million 

Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants 

Leverage federal funding to strengthen and sustain humanities infrastructure and capacity-building activities at cultural institutions. 

30 grants, totaling $13.9 million

NEH/AHRC New Directions for Digital Scholarship in Cultural Institutions 

A joint initiative between NEH and the U.K.’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to advance digital tools and methods used by museums, libraries, and galleries to bring the humanities to global audiences.   


8grants, totaling $1.1 million 

NEH Mellon Fellowships for Digital Publication 

A joint initiative between NEH and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support digital research and publication in the humanities.  

9 grants, totaling $520,000

Preservation and Access Research and Development Grants   

Support projects that address major challenges in preserving or providing access to humanities collections and resources.  

6 grants, totaling $1.3 million 

Preservation Education and Training Grants  

Help the staff of cultural institutions obtain the knowledge and skills needed to serve as effective stewards of humanities collections. Grants also support educational programs that prepare the next generation of conservators and preservation professionals, as well as projects that introduce the staff of cultural institutions to recent improvements in preservation and access practices.  

11 grants, totaling $3.3 million  

National Endowment for the Humanities: Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at