National Endowment for the Humanities

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Background

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), established in 1965, is the largest federal funder of the humanities in the United States. Although most programs are focused on U.S.-based projects, there is ample room to explore work that is international in scope. As the NEH legislation states, the funding is to effect the access to and understanding of humanities topics available to “people of all backgrounds and wherever located” (20 USC 951). In fiscal year 2021, the agency’s award budget is approximately $137 million.

As of January 20, 2021, all of the policy positions at the agency were replaced with personnel from the new administration. As of March, there is an acting Chairperson (legally the head of the agency is the “Chairman”), and it is unknown when an official appointee will be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. As with all federal agencies during the transition, this means that there are considerable questions regarding the direction and priorities of the agency under new leadership, and it seems like this situation will continue for the foreseeable future.

The most recent comprehensive report from the agency is its 2017 Annual Report

Profile

Major NEH funding programs

The agency has many funding programs across its various units, and there are also special initiatives that can be developed and funded by the Office of the NEH Chairman. University researchers are most often interested in these programs:

  • NEH Fellowships. These awards, administered by the NEH Division of Research, go to individuals and may be up to $60,000; applications usually due in April, to start following calendar year; over the last five years, the agency awards on average about $5 million in this program; 3 page narrative, not available to enrolled students. Learn more
  • NEH Summer Stipends. These awards, also administered by the NEH Division of Research, go to individuals and may be up to $6,000; usually due in Sep, to start following calendar year. The modest amount can be used to defray costs of research activities during the summers, such as visiting an archive or supporting the completion of a writing project. Learn more

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