UNL earns three humanities grants

jbrehm2, February 25, 2011 | View original publication

UNL earns three humanities grants

LINCOLN, Neb. (Feb. 25, 2011) – The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has received nearly $1.5 million from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to enhance digital humanities research and education and to expand the University of Nebraska Press’ offerings.

The three grants will enable UNL to establish an endowment for the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, catalog the UNL Libraries’ and Nebraska State Historical Society’s railroad history archives, and help the University of Nebraska Press publish new monographs by junior scholars on endangered indigenous languages of North America.

The Center for Digital Research in the Humanities received a four-year, $500,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to permanently support some of the center’s key programs. An internationally recognized leader in digital humanities research, the center is a joint initiative of UNL Libraries and UNL’s College of Arts and Sciences and is a UNL Program of Excellence.

NEH challenge grants help universities secure long-term improvements and support for humanities programs. They require a three-to-one match from the university. Over the next four years, the University of Nebraska Foundation, UNL Libraries and the College of Arts and Sciences must raise $1.5 million to receive the full $500,000.

The grant will support two graduate student assistantships annually, an ongoing two-year postdoctoral fellowship and the Nebraska Digital Workshop, the center’s signature event. The workshop brings the nation’s top early career digital humanities scholars to UNL to showcase their research, get feedback from senior faculty and network with potential research partners and employers.

The center currently offers internships and fellowships as funding allows. A permanent endowment will enable the center to better serve and recruit promising scholars, said Katherine Walter, the center’s co-director and UNL Libraries’ chair of digital initiatives and collections. Kenneth Price, Hillegass University Professor of 19th century American literature, is the center’s co-director and will co-lead the challenge grant project with Walter.

“UNL is a widely recognized leader in digital research and scholarship. This challenge grant represents an excellent opportunity to secure future funding to support the center’s important work,” said UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman. “Fundraising efforts are under way and we’re determined to raise the private donations we need for the matching components.”

Mellon grant supports railroads archive

Walter, along with UNL Libraries faculty Mary Bolin, chair of technical services, and Margaret Mering, professor, also is leading UNL Libraries’ “Major Railroad Archival Collections” project. Funded by a three-year, $208,500 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in cooperation with the Council of Library and Information Resources, the initiative will make the archival collections from four major railroads available through a single Web portal.

The project’s goal is to enhance knowledge of railroad history and make it easier for historians and railroad aficionados to link multiple information sources that show how major railroad lines influenced the growth of U.S. cities and towns during the 19th century. UNL Libraries is partnering with the Nebraska State Historical Society to catalogue the nearly 2 million papers, books, time tables, photographs, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, maps and blueprints that will comprise the expanded collection. The artifacts are from the Union Pacific, Charles J. Kennedy, Chicago Burlington and Quincy Lines West, and Val Kuska Burlington Northern collections.

Mellon grant for NU Press
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation also awarded the University of Nebraska Press a three-year, $781,900 grant for the “Recovering Languages and Literacies in the Americas” initiative. This grant will give the University of Nebraska Press, along with the University of Oklahoma Press and the University of Texas Press, resources to help linguistic scholars publish indigenous language grammars and dictionaries, literacy studies, ethnographies and other linguistic monographs, which are cost-prohibitive to produce on lean budgets.

Twenty-seven books – nine from each press – will be published on the grammar and literacy of endangered languages. The initiative also aims to generate broader interest in linguistic monographs and to find more efficient, cost-effective ways to produce monographs.

Each press will publish books in its area of expertise: University of Nebraska Press, North America; University of Texas Press, Mexico, South America and Central America; and University of Oklahoma Press, the Americas.

These publications are important resources for academics in the fields of linguistics, indigenous studies and social sciences, and to communities wishing to preserve their language and culture, said Donna Shear, University of Nebraska Press director, who is leading this collaboration.

“This is an important project for indigenous people working to preserve their language and culture, as well as for scholars. We’re excited to have our University of Nebraska Press lead this collaborative effort that taps each partner’s strengths,” said Prem S. Paul, vice chancellor for research and economic development who oversees the University of Nebraska Press.