In looking at the sample Digital Humanities Advancement and Digital Projects for the Public grants, I notice that both types place a huge emphasis on innovation and revitalization. This shows, I think, that everyone within the field understands the huge necessity that exists right now for making history and the humanities relevant and exciting in the digital age.  Just in case applying for money wasn’t already a competitive ordeal, but the obligation to keep at the cutting age of technology and innovation has to be more important than ever.

To be successful, as these were, I think you just have to be so incredibly explicit with what you want to do, and how you’re going to do it. The timeline component helps with that, not only simply showing what will happen when, but also proving that the planners and organizers have looked at their project from every step, every angle, and will execute their project through the most organized and detailed process possible. If it were me reading these applications, seeing all of this would be incredibly reassuring.

I was also surprised that you could apply after you’ve already started work on your project. I, too, assumed that you had to be in the planning stages in order to take part in this process.

P.s. I don’t think I want to be a grant writer when I grow up.

The Realities of Funding

Wow. After reading the articles, grants sure seem intimidating, in a weirdly complicated way for someone who has never looked at them before.  On the one hand, successful grant writing seems like it’s mostly just following instructions and using common sense.  But on the other, the writer must find the balance between vagueness and specificity.  For example, the grant reviewers do not want to get bogged down in minute details, but they also do not want something that is too broad and vague that does not convey relevance and significance.  I suppose that I found the process intimidating based on the sheer numbers of applications with just a small number of those applications accepted. It’s deceiving that the NEH grant page has an entire list of grants available, but in the grand scale of thousands of applications, the probability of getting chosen is very small.

When examining the Digital Projects for the Public and the Digital Humanities Advancement grants a few similarities emerge.  Both grants highlight acceptance of applications for projects in all phases of development related to digital projects.  This struck me as interesting because in my mind, most applications would be for projects still in theoretical development, but that is not the case.  Once started, projects may still receive funding, even if a project was abandoned and is now in need of revitalization.  Along those lines, both grants look for projects that are sustainable and deepen the understanding of a given field.  Since these are digitally focused, both grants stress appealing to a broad public audience, as well as students and other scholars.

The sample application narratives that I looked at for both grants, were wanting to utilize digital technologies to broaden and enhance techniques within history and archaeology.  One similarity that I noted was the fact that both applications wanted funding to bring together field professionals for meetings to best discuss how to implement digital technologies.  This was interesting to me because even though neither proposals had begun their projects while awaiting these meetings, both applications had outlined how the money would be used, their timelines for project completion, and the scholars involved.  To me, it looks like one key to these applications was showing the grant reviewers your dedication to organization, the ability to stick with a proposed timeline, knowing exactly what you are going to do and when.  They follow the guidelines, while remaining specific about the goals of the projects and their significance, but not emphasizing even little aspect of the projects.


In reading through the descriptions of the Digital Humanities Advancement Grant and the Digital Projects for the Public Grant, I noticed several similarities in their subject areas. The Digital Humanities Advancement Grant covers a project through all stages of its development, from early fact-finding through production and implementation. The Digital Projects for the Public grant requires that the portion of a project covered by the grant be entirely digital and only supports one stage of development, though it can be any stage. Both of these grants are aimed at presenting information to the public at large and attracting new audiences via whatever it is the project is funding.

Looking at the narrative samples for the two kinds of grants, it is immediately obvious why they were funded. Both grants took the time to explicitly lay out what their project was, what the money would be used for, the timeline for goals to be reached, and clear ties to the humanities. I looked at the Digital Archaeology (DHA) grant and the Digital Environmental History of the Americas (DPP) grant, and both of them read in a similar fashion. Both projects wanted to utilize technology to advance the general understanding of their field among the general public. It is good that these websites have examples of the narrative portion of grants that were funded as they allow new applicants to see what a strong narrative looks like. As this is the first section that can make or break a grant application, having these examples to look at wastes far less time than having to guess.

Stanford versus Brown

When comparing the Digital Humanities Advancement Grant and the Digital Projects for the Public grant I chose to look at two extremely well known colleges’ grant proposals, Brown University and Stanford University. Although in comparison the Stanford requested budget was huge, almost $300,000, I found the two very similar on a number of topics.

  1. A multidisciplinarian approach
  2. A clear timeline
  3. A clear sense of who was involved and their qualifications
  4. A clear sense of its relevance

The larger Stanford project, which sought to add a contextual basis for letters written by many great authors, covered not only a number of linguistics, but even a Digital Humanitarian Librarian. I had no idea such a thing even existed. The Brown grant, which was looking to expand a localized project on the four elements, included among its members anthropologists, historians and a local curator. Both projects used history as a way to open their abstracts to reference a broader humanities overtone.

The really impressive topic in both was the timeline they provided. Each proposal gave a timeline of when the project would be at certain milestone points as well as what this would mean for patrons. Whether seasonal or  actually dated, both projects made it clear when their work would be done as well as who would do what and when.

The most fascinating similarity was the qualifications of the people involved. Both schools had lists of awards and accomplishments for the professors and grad students that was phenomenal.

Lastly, both projects made a clear statement of what they believed to be missing in the world and how their projects would look to fix it.

Although the two projects were very different in the scope of what they intended, they both clearly showed relevancy to a number of groups of people, why the should be the ones doing it, and a realistic but ambitious timeline for their projects.


NEH Grants


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.


It seems to me that writing grants is similar to writing a proposal for a job the criteria is very similar. There are obvious differences but if you’re going to try and start anything in a job this is what is needed to get financing. The different professionals I have talked to in the field of history, archives, or museums it is best to go big expecting you’re going to get less than what you ask for. The part I did not think about, until the writing is that there is an inter-disciplinary group I have to account for. Then I contemplated how am I going to make my proposal sound worth wild for other groups? How am I supposed to know the “jargon” of the other people and groups involved in making my proposal successful? According to the article I should avoid such “jargon,” which makes sense because if I can’t communicate it to anybody then it would fail inside a museum. I must make the proposal user friendly to the group I am presenting it to as well as to a regular person. The proposal is different than the NEH grant due to the fact that the proposal has to be presented in front of a peer reviewed board instead of a competition.  The fact that the panel who you present to, is multidisciplinary helps. I feel that in order to properly push forward with any proposal it should be as user friendly as possible. It seems that after reading this particular article a historian should use clarity and make the proposal as if he or she is trying to sell a particular item to the general public. The easier it is for John Q public to understand the better the sell on the proposal.

NEH grant makes sense that you should have some humanities represented because this is what the public can relate with the most. The difference I see from the proposal to the NEH grant is that the NEH grant is a competition amongst multidiscipline groups with the winners getting the grants. The public wants to know how does this scenario or piece of history relates to their lives. If you can’t grab that with the public more often it seems you lose interest. If you can inspire people to get involved or relate to what you are presenting, obviously, you’re going to get more money. The problem is you’re going to have to give up some integrity it seems to make it more appealing to the regular public, which most historians do not want to give up. The narrative you give in support of your grant will help in getting financial support but you must follow the guidelines to get it. This is helpful in the historical field because this is when you can explain your idea and history to the general public where thought on a particular history can be changed.

I like the idea of proposals because it forces historians to make history more tangible to the general public. The proposal forces historians to look at it as regular person, unaware of this particular event in history. The historians have to make it, not only tangible for the grant proposal board, but the people it is focused on in order to share this particular historical information.

Fear and Loathing – You mean I have to do this, too?

In Digital Humanities Advancement Grants each application I reviewed added Statement of Innovation and a Statement of Humanities Significance paragraphs between the Abstract and Narrative sections of the application. I found no requirement for them, but they are useful. For this grants in this category it was the only difference I found. They were bereft of jargon, but still sufficiently technical to make reading tough. The “A unified approach to preserving cultural software and their development histories” struck me as a great idea but left me wondering how they were going to create a digital method for “winnowing” material prior to archiving it, digitally, isn’t that where the problem begins. On the other hand, “Image Analysis for Archival Discovery” seemed an intriguing idea which would be very useful for a very narrow field of study, poetry in pre-digital publications. I hope they might figure out how to create and then expand their product’s utility.

As a historian, “Networks in History: Data-driven tools for analyzing relationships across time” a Level 3 grant application was the most exciting proposal I reviewed. It was both jargon free and technically oriented, but not as dry as the two previous readings, which were for Level 1 grants. I wanted to know more and found it at .  The nearly $300K grant helped them create Palladio.  Having a tool for analyzing correspondence, authors, recipients across both time AND space is amazing and I hope I have a reason to use it someday and that it can become more comprehensive.

Panorama collage by Michele Graffieti
Panorama collage by Michele Graffieti – Screen grab from Palladio Website

Digital Projects for the Public narratives were much different and also much easier to read. “Exploring the Four Elements: Toward a Digital Environmental History of the Americas” was a Discovery Grant with a very simple concept. I thought more of the preliminary work should have been done before applying for the grant. Also, by the second proposed project meeting they were going to have their first display completed to show meeting attendees. It seemed like a grant application looking for application-sake.

I was a little more excited by the second Discovery Grant application I read, “Participatory Media.” Another simple idea and one whose value was readily apparent from the application. Their goal of centralizing all of this material for accessibility left me feeling like a voyeur raiding someone’s closet to find their home videos, photos and correspondence. I feel equating this to the Depression-era photography and interview collections is a bit of an overreach, I do think it is a valuable project.

“Walden, A Game,”  a Production Grant, is the most ambitious project reviewed. It is potentially a game-changer, pardon the pun, for historians and others who wish to introduce specific historical events to a broader audience. Having received grants from both NEH and NEA indicates that some feel this is an area worth exploring. Further research led me to a review at this site:

As others have noted, both programs require application narratives that are broad and specific, a tough combo. It has also been mentioned, both programs will fund everything from Discovery to Implementation. The published guidelines are a strength for both, as is the variety of research each will consider.

Money Pwease!

The Digital Humanities Advancement Grants (DHAG) focuses on the impact of technology on the humanities. The strength of this kind of grant is that projects can get funding for the lifetime of the project. This is important for some projects if they long processes that need funding for a number of years. This grant really focuses on preserving pieces of history and culture online for generations to come. Since this is a pretty broad topic, I feel like a lot of different and unique projects can get funding through this.

The Digital Projects for the Public grants is all about getting history (and humanities) out to the public, specifically using digital platforms. This grant supports a lot of different technologies that are focused on bringing history to the American public. For this grant, unlike the DHAG grant, individuals may apply. This is important for individual scholars, educators, or students who want to implement some kind of technology in their own field of work that will enhance whatever they might be working on.

Both of these grants focus on preserving or presenting humanities to the public. They both have levels of funding in which people can apply for. Projects do not have to apply for the first level of funding in order to get the third level of funding later. This to me is very important. Some projects simply need to start off with more money in order to achieve specific goals. One interesting thing that I noted on each grant website was that projects could not be used to “persuade audiences of a particular political, religious, or ideological point of view.” (pg. 7, The Digital Projects for the Public Grant) I wonder how projects surrounding topics like LGBTQ history, Black Lives Matter, Civil War/Slavery, Mexican immigration, etc get funding. Could any of these get funding through grants like these? Could a project dedicated to telling the story of Mexican migrant workers be denied? What about a project dedicated to digitizing interviews of Syrian refugees who have made it to America?

Also, I read the instructions wrong on the syllabus but I don’t feel like deleting all of my above work, so here are the strengths from the narratives:


The sample narrative, Mobilizing the Past for a Digital Future: The Potential of Digital Archaeology really focuses on bringing technology to the humanities and helping a variety of fields through workshops understand how mobile devices can be used. I think this is very important in the historical and archaeological fields. Digitizing things can help speed up research and can help bring the public in.

The strength of Image Analysis for Archival Discovery is that it has a very particular goal in mind, finding and digitizing poetry in newspapers, but it also has the ability to help other historians. By creating new techniques to electronically scan newspapers for textual clues to find poetry, other historians can use that technology to find other topics in newspapers. This grant and the above Archaeology grant both would help other academics with their research techniques.

Digital Projects for the Public:

In the Exploring the Four Elements: Towards a Digital Environmental History of the Americas, they describe exhibits that will showcase the human engagement in earth, air, fire, and water. While they don’t show a very detailed plan of user-generated content, they do seem to be focused on reaching out to a more diverse museum crowd and hope to engage with them.

The Digital Giza: A New Portal to the Pyramids is focused on creating a 3D immersive computer model of the entire Giza Plateau. This kind of project is really focused on bringing digital history to the public. This kind of research and project could be useful in k-12 classrooms as well as college classrooms. This kind of project, like the Exploring the Four Elements project is focused on reaching a larger audience.

And so it has come to this…

It has been a trying week. Due to events that occurred during class last week I have been unable to focus on anything school related. My partner even went so far as to conclude that had I not been at class I would have been able to head off this particular disaster. This has caused me to rethink my commitment to continuing my education, forcing me to explore the viability of what I am doing, and whether or not it is in the best interest of my family to continue with this course of action.

We’ve talked of moving, relocating to somewhere else where no one knows our name, a place with a fresh start, for us and the kids. And what to my wondering eyes did appear than a list of places where the U.S. Navy needed historians. Businesses need historical consultants, law firms need researchers for cases with historical ramifications. All sorts of jobs in all sorts of places that have all sorts of pay-scales. Most of these jobs required only a BA in history, and many of these positions were available to be filled. Immediately.

So why stay and finish things? Out of a sense of duty for the members of this class. But other than that, im not sure. We shall see.

Oh the Possibilities

I noticed that some of my classmates mentioned depression as a reaction to the readings this week. Personally, I came away with a much more hopeful reaction.  By no means are the opportunities boundless for historians, but you realize that there are more options out there than you typically think of.  I suppose the readings validated my choice to do the MAHR option because I love the possibilities available for those willing to get creative and make a career that works for them, beyond academia, teaching, and law.  “Historians as Consultants and Contractors” laid out some of those other possibilities.

I loved how “Crafting a New Historian” detailed how it is possible to combine two passions or hobbies.  I would say that this describes exactly how I decided upon my research and project topic.  I love military history and art, so why not combine them to get combat art.  I love that I can talk about museums and exhibits with my graphic designer friend because she is interested in the same thing.  We are able to discuss how we can effectively communicate information and present it visually.  I think that’s why I spent so much time on the West Office website just looking at every different exhibit design they created.  I also agreed with the statement in “Crafting a New Historian” that as historians, we develop skilled transferable to other disciplines or topics, such as planning, researching, hypothesizing, and problem-solving.

Along those same lines, last week my mom sent me an article that I think is applicable.  In it, the author laments over the drop in history, and other humanities, majors, stating that the job market is losing critical thinkers and good communicators. These skills are valuable, whether working in history or not, and people are missing out  on the resources that history majors posses.

I did encounter one source of stress in the readings. “Crafting a New Historian” mentioned being able to relate to different people with different interests.  I whole-heartedly agree, and feel that as historians we can do that, especially through reading books.  What stresses me out is when we must relate to people through interactions and conversations.  I’m not the best conversationalist and this, frankly scares me.  Furthermore, I had a conversation with a historian working for the NPS at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.  One point he made was that historians have to be “people” persons.  At this statement, I panicked because I am most certainly not a “people-person”.  I guess I will have to work on that.