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National Endowment for the Humanities Announces New Grants

The Amistad Research Center’s holdings on African-American history, a new biography of the poet Robert Frost and a traveling exhibition commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are among the 238 recipients of new grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The grants, which make up the final round of funding for the fiscal year, total $30 million, and will support humanities projects in 45 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. This year, two new international collaborative grants will support projects based in England and Germany. An additional $50 million was awarded to the national network of state and jurisdictional humanities councils for annual operating support.

In a phone interview, the endowment’s chairman, Jon Parrish Peede, said that a number of the grants were for exhibitions or projects scheduled to open in the spring of 2021. But because of complications associated with the coronavirus pandemic, many are not likely to open then.

“The N.E.H. decided that we are going to fund these projects even if we know that they’ll have to be rescheduled for a different time,” Mr. Peede said. “I think it’s my responsibility on behalf of the agency to support great projects and then to work out with them how they can come into being once this pandemic is under control.”

A number of grants were awarded to summer seminars, institutes and workshops at schools, while others went toward long-term preservation projects, like one for Preservation Hall’s archives of jazz memorabilia in New Orleans. Others will support projects specifically focused on promoting a deeper understanding of U.S. history, as part of the agency’s A More Perfect Union initiative, in preparation for the nation’s 250th birthday in 2026.

In New York, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum received $200,000 for a forthcoming traveling exhibition in partnership with 20 libraries across the country, ahead of the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. The Interfaith Center of New York also secured funding for a teaching institute focused on American religious diversity through the lens of six religions practiced in New York.

Elsewhere, the Detroit Historical Society received funding for an exhibition that explores the city’s booming automobile industry and illicit alcohol trade in the 1920s. In Kentucky, a grant will help the arts organization Appalshop preserve film footage documenting the people of Appalachia. And a book project in Germany about Chinese dissident writers, filmmakers and academics also received a grant.

The $30 million in grants announced on Wednesday is just some of the funding the agency has provided to humanities projects this year. Through the CARES Act stimulus package, the agency has been able to award more than $70 million to help cultural institutions with emergency funding through the coronavirus pandemic.

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