NEH grant fuels reinterpretation of National Trust historic sites

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National Trust for Historic PreservationThe National Trust for Historic Preservation won a second grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to help maintain its historic sites after the drastic economic impacts of the pandemic.

Many have had to lay off staff, drastically cut operations, and some have shut down for months to meet pandemic mandates. This $ 500,000 grant will provide five historic sites owned and operated by the National Trust with a financial lifeline to help support existing staff and involve community members and humanities researchers in the development of new programs. interpretation focused on Black, Indigenous and LatinX stories to these iconic Properties.

The grants support the National Trust’s mission to tell all of American history and to diversify the interpretation and meaning of historic sites.

“We are grateful to the NEH for this generous grant, which will support both staff and state-of-the-art humanities scholarships at five historic sites. We look forward to sharing the powerful stories this funding will allow us to tell, enabling these historic places to serve the communities around them more deeply and to examine and interpret shared stories. Rena Zurofsky, Acting Vice President for Historic Sites.

The funding will be used to support:

Shadows on the Teche in New Iberia, Louisiana, was a sugar cane plantation before the Civil War. This property has been a National Trust site for over 50 years and once focused on the stories of the Weeks family, who lived there from 1834 to 1958. This new grant from NEH will expand the scope of interpretation to tell the whole story. history of Shadows, which includes the story of more than 200 enslaved people who lived and worked there. The funding will also provide resources to develop new in-depth tours for children, already a vital part of Shadow’s work, as well as more programs and activities, both live and virtual, for children. The Shadows will hire a museum education specialist to help meet all of these educational goals and continue to work with the Iberia African American Historical Society.

Lawn in Alexandria, Virginia, is well known as the former plantation that George Washington gave to his step-granddaughter and nephew. Her own story tells how she went from a working plantation to a hotbed of anti-slavery activism, but most of the stories of Woodlawn’s true slaves have been erased or suppressed. With funding from this NEH grant, Woodlawn will meet with partner organizations to better articulate this story by facilitating top-down community engagement, coordinating the integration of this information into contemporary interpretations of the site, and distributing the results. to partners, academics in the humanities and local experts. New tours and programs, an updated website and continued work with its advisory board will be the results of this new funding.

President Woodrow Wilson House in Washington, DC has been a National Trust site since 1961. Besides Wilson’s positive accomplishments, the Trust has not shied away from the horrific history of Wilson’s segregationist, anti-feminist, and anti-Native American policies. He led the way in using the entire history of this site to modernize and explore the meaning of its complex narrative. With the NEH grant, Wilson House will enhance an existing research program with students at Howard University. These emerging scholars will engage in a more in-depth reexamination of the lasting effects of Wilson’s policies that still impact American communities today. The grant will also fund surveys, focus groups, interviews, workshops and brainstorming labs to guide the continued evolution of the site’s interpretation.

Chesterwood in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, was the country home and studio of famous American sculptor Daniel Chester French, best known for his iconic sculpture of President Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Chesterwood has been a National Trust site since 1968 and is a National Historic Landmark that is also on the African American Heritage Trail. Chesterwood is working with Berkshire Resources for Integration of Diverse Groups Through Education (BRIDGE) to help tell the stories of African Americans who likely harvested the marble for sculpture, and the stories of those who installed and sculpted the final piece. . Through the NEH grant, Chesterwood will hire an African-American scholar to research the full history of this monument to freedom, and its other related Indigenous stories, to support an expanded interpretation at the property in time for the Lincoln Memorial’s centennial. in 2022.

Cooper Molera in Monterey, California, was built between 1830-1869 and was left to the National Trust in 1968. The site has a complex and layered history that is closely tied to Monterey’s role as the political and commercial capital of the Mexican Territory of Mexico. ‘Alta California. The site’s deep history of LatinX, indigenous and female stories that have yet to be fully interpreted. NEH funding will allow Cooper Molera to digitize hundreds of thousands of its historical documents that would become publicly available. In addition, the grant would help fund the position of Director of Partnerships and Interpretation, which was not filled during the pandemic.

This grant will also help retain and fill 16 positions in those locations that have been affected by the pandemic.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit, works to save America’s historic places. www.SavingPlaces.org.

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