The founding of the National Endowment for the Humanities sprang from a belief that the humanities are as critical as the sciences to the nation’s success. “Democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens,” declares the legislative act that President Lyndon B. Johnson signed on September 29, 1965. The legislation continues, “It must therefore foster and support a form of education, and access to the arts and the humanities, designed to make people of all backgrounds and wherever located masters of their technology and not its unthinking servants.”
Since then, NEH has strived to provide leadership and funding to the best in humanities research, preservation, digital development, education, endowment-building, films, exhibitions, and public programming. Through NEH funding, millions have been touched by the films created, museum exhibits displayed, books written, historic places investigated, and more.
The story of the first 50 years of the National Endowment for the Humanities can be told through projects and people:
- NEH grants have resulted in 7,000 books—16 won Pulitzer Prizes and 20 won Bancroft Prizes.
- There are 56 local humanities councils that each year create and support 56,000 humanities programs across all the states and territories.
- Nearly 85,000 teachers have attended NEH summer programs, transferring knowledge to approximately 11 million students.
- About 29,000 research fellowships have assisted humanities scholars.
- Grants have funded roughly 1,900 film and radio documentaries, reaching millions.
- Hundreds of exhibitions have toured the United States to museums, libraries, and community venues large and small.
- Roughly 5,200 grants have helped preserve humanities collections and resources for the future.
NEH looks forward to the next 50 years of our public investment funding discovery and innovation and preserving America’s cultural heritage. Learn more at neh.gov.