Mass Humanities Announces $134,000 in Grants

Funds support projects around the state that use the humanities to deepen public understanding, strengthen democracy

Northampton, MA (December 18, 2018) – Mass Humanities has awarded grants totaling $134,649 in support of humanities projects in communities across the state. Funded projects include oral histories, museum exhibits, community discussions, workshops and documentary films on a number of topics: the lives and experiences of Black residents of Holyoke, the history of the LGBTQ+ community in Worcester, the impact of technology on New Bedford’s fishing community, and more.

“We were impressed by the range of relevant, dynamic projects in this round of applications,” said Brian Boyles, Mass Humanities Executive Director. “Organizations around Massachusetts are responding to their communities through new approaches to the humanities. They’re asking big questions, reaching new audiences, and shedding new light on our shared history and culture.”

The grants are part of more than $475,000 awarded in 2018 by Mass Humanities. The organization is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and receives funding from the Mass Cultural Council. Museums, libraries, community centers, and universities are among the beneficiaries of this year’s Mass Humanities grants, reviewed and approved by members of the Mass Humanities board of directors.

See below for a full list of projects funded.

Western Massachusetts

  • $14,500 to Historic Holyoke at Wistariahurst for an oral history project and exhibit examining the lives and experiences of Black residents of Holyoke from the second half of the 20th century to the present.
  • $7,500 to Eggtooth Productions to support conversations between scholars, artists, and the audience at the Radical Interconnectedness Festival, a two-day event in Turners Falls featuring art that engages issues of race, age, gender, religion, class, and those aspects of cultural identity that have been suppressed.
  • $12,209 to The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights Institute for a week-long teacher’s institute on the holocaust, genocide, and human rights to be held at UMass Amherst.
  • $15,000 to the UMass Amherst Labor Center for a project to help local workers see their work lives as worthy of attention and part of a historical trajectory in which they are agents. Includes a three-day digital storytelling workshop, a conference featuring the storytelling videos and documentaries about the lives of workers, and a website showcasing the videos.

Greater Boston

  • $14,047 to UMass Boston CANALA Institutes for a five-day summer teacher workshop highlighting historic sites in Boston where communities of color struggled for recognition and inclusion in the social contract: Deer Island, Prince Hall Masonic Lodge, Chinatown’s Quincy Grammar School, and Villa Victoria.
  • $13,500 to Interlock Media in Cambridge to support promotion and distribution of the documentary CodeSwitching, which explores the experience of shifting between ‘home’ and ‘away’ cultures for two generations of students who were bused from urban to suburban schools as part of Boston’s METCO program.
  • $3,000 to Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge for a series of conversations following one-act plays by the cemetery’s Playwright Artist in Residence, Patrick Gabridge. The plays are site-specific, inspired by the cemetery’s landscape and designed to bring its 187-year history to life.

Central Massachusetts

  • $15,000 to the Worcester Historical Museum for a project on the history of the LGBTQ+ community in the city, including a collection of oral histories, the creation of an LGBTQ+ archive, and educational programming to complement an exhibit on Gay Worcester.
  • $14,935 to the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester for an educational website on Isaiah Thomas,a printer who was instrumental in starting the American Revolution and creating a uniquely American literature and culture after it.
  • $14,998 to Clark University in Worcester to support ESL teachers in learning Poetry Inside Out, a translation-based approach to literary interpretation, and implementing it in their classrooms. The approach encourages multilingual students to see their translation skills as a foundation for humanities-based inquiry.

Southeastern Massachusetts

  • $6,960 to the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center for two consecutive exhibits exploring how changes in technology have affected the town’s fishing community over time. The project includes archival research and ethnographic interviews with members of the fishing community, panel discussions, and curricula for the elementary and secondary school children who will visit the exhibits.


Mass Humanities, a non-profit based in Northampton, conducts and supports programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life throughout Massachusetts. Since its founding in 1974, the organization has provided nearly $13 million in support for more than 2,500 humanities projects across the Commonwealth. Established as the state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Mass Humanities is an independent programming and grant-making organization that receives support from the NEH and the Massachusetts Cultural Council as well as private sources. Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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