After reading the website of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), I can see how the organization has been an incredible resource and instrumental in the support of advanced research of scholars. The fellowships sponsored by the NEH provide the necessary support for academic intellectuals to pursue their interests throughout the world. The NEH provides invaluable resources for the public such as books, magazines and digital information used to educate the public and other scholars and educators, promoting collaborative research. The NEH fellowship program is highly competitive and grant proposals are awarded after thorough consideration from applicants. Over the past five years, the NEH granted 80 fellowships from an average of 1,178 grant applications. There have been so many extraordinary contributions to the NEH over the years from historical research into Women’s Suffrage to the Iberian Peninsula. The NEH provides such a wealth of information and historical research and, instead of funding cuts, they should be given a funding increase.
Susan Stanford Friedman, an English professor and author, wrote in her article, “Writing Effective Grant Proposals,” that grant proposals are making an exceptional contribution on the study of humanities. She encouraged the grant writer to “think big” and “paint the big picture.” She felt it was important to step back from the proposed project and look at it from a wider perspective in order to encompass a varied direction. The fact that many grant proposals in humanities studies do not make it through is what I find disturbing because there is so much to the decision on whether or not to accept the grant. She encouraged grant applicants to show the purpose of their research and not use phrases such as “I will argue,” but use “I will explore” instead. After all, the purpose of the grant is to research and find a conclusion. If the researcher already has a conclusion, then it is, as she states, the research is already completed. Friedman states in her summary, “Read and follow all specific instructions carefully. Avoid multiple submission of the same proposal to agencies that are looking for different kinds of things.” She strongly encourages the grant writer to be “declarative,” and use action phrases such as, “I will” and “I plan,” which will lead to a more successful grant proposal.
Meredith Hindley, a writer for Humanities, wrote her informative article “How to Get a Grant from NEH,” after obtaining invaluable insight and information from various programs in order to succeed. She included one phrase that was so obvious but yet so necessary. Hindley suggests the important question to grant applicants, “Does my project have a strong humanities component?” That question emphasizes more knowledge than it implies. Hindley quotes the NEH legislative document that says, “The term ‘humanities’ includes . . . language . . linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; . . . the arts.” Grant proposals will only be awarded to those applicants who demonstrate a powerful focus on humanities.
Due to the growth and evolution of digital era, the NEH Digital Humanities Advancement Grant is a grant that supports “digital projects throughout their life cycles, from early start-up phases through implementation and long-term sustainability.” With collaboration with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, these grants will help to preserve, archive and make available “digital collections and services,” which would be tremendous resources for scholars as well as the public.