Rhode Island has a long and proud history of promoting the humanities in public life. Our own U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell, recipient of the Council’s 2006 Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities Award, was one of the primary sponsors of the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965, which created the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities was founded in 1973 as an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the NEH.
Our founding purpose—which remains largely unchanged today—is to promote public understanding and appreciation of the tradition of thought and accomplishment that we call the humanities. Our work is based on the conviction that history, literature, philosophy, theology, civics, the arts and other fields of the humanities are central not only to formal education, but to the daily lives of a free and diverse people.
To date, the Council has awarded more than $8 million through more than 1,640 grants.
We have supported more than 650 community organizations, including historical societies, libraries, museums, educational institutions, cultural, ethnic and faith groups, and arts organizations.
The Council is proud of our long history supporting a wide range of public humanities projects: Documentary films that have gone on to premiere at Sundance Film Festival, win Emmys, and gain national broadcast on PBS; research projects that have examined everything from wartime gardening in Rhode Island to how racial integration affected the state’s black baseball leagues; public history projects that have preserved stories from WWII soldiers at life’s end, hurricane survivors, and apple growers to name only a few.
As we move into our fourth decade, the Council is building on the core grantmaking program through initiatives and partnerships to further support and develop the vitality of the public humanities in Rhode Island.