A History of Service to the Humanities
Alabama Humanities Foundation began operation in 1974 at the invitation of National Endowment for the Humanities to distribute federal humanities funds at the state level. Early higher education leaders in the effort to establish that organization were university presidents David Mathews of Alabama and Harry Philpott of Auburn. Government, business and professional leaders joined the cause.
And the Committee for the Humanities and Public Policy — named Alabama Humanities Foundation in 1986 — was born.
From its earliest days, AHF granted funds to colleges, universities, libraries, museums, historical, arts, schools and community groups for humanities scholarship in public policy.
At first, the funds came from national sources. Then, it expanded its coffers from state corporations, foundations and individuals with the aim of creating its own programs in humanities disciplines — history, literature, languages, philosophy, ethics, art history and criticism, archaeology, jurisprudence and linguistics.
It went from a policy-based organization to one that in the early 1980s responded to the public’s interest in state and local history and culture.
What followed were programs and projects like the Alabama History and Heritage Festival, Theatre in the Mind, co-sponsored with Alabama Shakespeare Festival to feature lectures, outreach and teacher workshops.
AHF created the Road Scholars speakers bureau, which has scholars crisscrossing the state to deliver free presentations to cultural and community organizations like libraries and historical commissions.
SUPER Teacher Institutes and SUPER Emerging Scholars programs for youths launched, serving thousands over the years. Museum on Main Street began in 1999, strengthening AHF’s reach into small, rural communities. In 2013, 26,000 people visited The Way We Worked in Alabama. It is now on its second year of the tour and is drawing thousands of people to its exhibition sites.
Prime Time Reading Time, a whole family approach to literacy, began as a pilot program two years ago and is now expanding quickly across the state.
In addition to exhibitions, institutes, workshops, speakers bureau and other cultural programs, AHF has been a huge benefactor of documentary films, including the current Ken Burns’ The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.
AHF began coordinating the Jenice Riley Memorial Scholarship in 2003, which is named for the late daughter of Gov. Bob and Patsy Riley. It rewards innovative teaching in elementary classrooms throughout the state.
In 1989, AHF created the Alabama Humanities Awards Luncheon, and it has evolved into a major annual event attracting upwards of 400 people and bringing in nationally noted speakers, like E.O. Wilson, Winston Groom, Charles Kuralt and Rick Bragg.
Honorees have been just as impressive: Winton Blount, Wayne Flynt, Governor Albert Brewer, Pulitzer Prize winners Harper Lee and E.O. Wilson. And the list continues to grow.
On its 25th anniversary in 2014, it became the most successful luncheon in its history.
As part of Standing Together, a new National Endowment for the Humanities initiative to promote understanding of the military experience and to support returning veterans, AHF is partnering with the Maine Humanities Council and 12 other state councils to offer scholar-facilitated, reading and discussion programs for veterans.
AHF has piloted Literature and the Veteran Experience on the campuses of Auburn University, Troy University and The University of Alabama. The program complements the foundation’s existing work in support of our veterans, specifically the Literature and Health Care reading and discussion program offered at VA hospitals.
At the heart of the program are small groups of veterans (10-12 participants) who gather twice-monthly over three months for reading and discussion. A humanities scholar who is also a veteran facilitates the sessions. Texts include novels, short fiction, poetry, letters, and personal accounts that relate to the military experience. Participants are recruited from the university and surrounding community.
As the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, AHF encourages and promotes appreciation of literature, history, law, philosophy and the arts through programs, events and grants to help others discover and share the meanings of life found through the humanities.
Alabama Humanities Foundation
Alabama Humanities Foundation fosters learning, understanding and appreciation of our people, communities and cultures.
Sample Press Release
Media contact: NAME
Telephone: YOUR NUMBER
Email: EMAIL ADRESS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Smithsonian Exhibition coming to (Your Town)
What would life be like without teachers, doctors or firefighters? Every day, Americans are hard at work on farms, factories, in homes or at desks keeping our communities thriving.
__Your Organization’s Name_____in cooperation with Alabama Humanities Foundation, will explore the professions and the people that sustain American society when it hosts The Way We Worked, a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition. “The Way We Worked” will be on view _Dates and Location_____________________________.
Your Town has been expressly chosen by the Alabama Humanities Foundation to host The Way We Worked as part of the Museum on Main Street project—a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. The exhibition is touring six communities in Alabama from July 2014 through June 2015: Pell City, Athens, Valley, Cullman, Demopolis and Dothan.
The Way We Worked, adapted from an original exhibition developed by the National Archives and Records Administration, explores how work has become a central element in American culture. It traces the many changes that have affected the workforce and work environments over the past 150 years, including the growth of manufacturing and increasing use of technology.
The exhibition draws from the Archives’ rich collections, including historical photographs, archival accounts of workers, film, audio and interactives, to tell the compelling story of how work impacts our individual lives and the historical and cultural fabric of our communities.
“We are very pleased to be able to bring The Way We Worked to our area,” said Project Director ______(Name)_____________________. “It allows us the opportunity to explore this fascinating aspect of our own region’s history, and we hope that it will inspire many to become even more involved in the cultural life of our community.”
Since 1997, AHF has partnered with the Smithsonian to bring the Museum on Main Street program to small cities and rural communities across Alabama. “Allowing all of our state’s residents to have access to the cultural resources of our nation’s premiere museum is a priority of the Alabama Humanities Foundation,” said Executive Director Armand DeKeyser. “With this special tour, we are pleased to be working with _(Your Organization)________ to help develop local exhibitions and public programs to complement the Smithsonian exhibition.”
The Alabama tour of The Way We Worked has been made possible by the Alabama Humanities Foundation, the Alabama Power Company and Norfolk Southern Railroad.
Museum on Main Street is a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), state humanities councils across the nation and local host institutions.
To learn more about The Way We Worked, visit www.museumonmainstreet.org. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.
SITES connects millions of Americans with their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of art, science and history exhibitions. State humanities councils, located in each state and U.S. territory, support community-based humanities programs that highlight such topics as local history, literature and cultural traditions. To learn more, visit www.sites.si.edu or www.alabamahumanities.org.
About the Alabama Humanities Foundation
As the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, AHF fosters learning, understanding and appreciation of our people, communities and cultures.
About the Alabama Humanities Foundation
As the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the AHF strives to create and foster opportunities for scholars and the public to interact and explore human values and meanings through the humanities.
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