The National Endowment for the Humanities
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) provides direct assistance to scholars and artists who are involved in the promotion and preservation of American culture.Founded in 1965, the NEH bequests grants that are intended to support the teaching of the humanities, fund research and groundbreaking scholarship, encourage individual lifetime learning, and that provide the public with access to cultural resources through museums, libraries, and other educational institutions. These grants usually take the form of projects that collect, study, and present aspects of art, literature, history, archaeology, religion, cultural traditions, and other humanities to the general public through exhibits, galleries, documentary films, performances, and books that are carefully crafted by individual scholars and documentarians, museums, colleges, libraries, and publishers.
The mission of the NEH is driven by the essential role educated citizens play in a republic. The humanities, by way of encouraging critical thinking, presenting historical events, and depicting situations that may occur outside of an individual reader or viewer's daily life, help develop the decision-making abilities needed to participate in a democracy. Through the exhibits, television productions, and books supported by the NEH, the American public is exposed to ideas and lessons from past generations that it might not be otherwise.
In recent years the NEH has been directly involved in the funding of 'The Civil War', an award-winning documentary by filmmaker Ken Burns that was viewed by 38 million people on PBS, the 'Library of America' series of high-quality books that catalogues and preserves America's greatest contributions to literature, including works of fiction, philosophy, history, and criticism that date back to the nation's founding, the 'United States Newspaper Project', which is transferring millions of newspaper pages to microfilm, and numerous books of enduring value, including 15 Pulitzer prize-winning works.
An independent agency of the US federal government, the NEH is directed by a chairman who is in turn advised by a 26-member board of private citizens called the National Council on the Humanities. The chairman is appointed by the president and serves a four year term while members of the council serve for six. Both the chairman and members of the council must be approved by the senate. The current chairman is Jim Leach, a former congressman from Iowa.