Mass Humanities Announces $57,000 in Grants

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

Northampton, MA (August 2, 2019) – Mass Humanities has awarded grants totaling $57,734 in support of 19 humanities projects in communities across the state. The grants support projects exploring local Massachusetts history as well as a number of community discussions on issues that matter, from the history of public and affordable housing in Boston to how to best meet the needs of veterans in Bedford.

“We believe the humanities provide the antidote to division and isolation,” said Mass Humanities Executive Director Brian Boyles. “Mass Humanities is honored to support projects based in civil discourse, respect for our fellow residents, and faith in the ability of neighbors to find solutions through conversation and storytelling.”

The grants are part of more than $500,000 that will be awarded in 2019 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 Mass Humanities grants, reviewed and approved by members of the Mass Humanities board of directors.

See below for a full list of projects funded.


  • $2,934 to Fitchburg State University for three public events using movement and the tools of art history and art criticism to help dance students and the broader public think about how we interpret art. The focus is on Adria Arch’s new exhibit at the Fitchburg Art Museum, which is itself an interpretation of the museum’s ongoing exhibit on its nineteenth-century founder, Eleanor Norcross.
  • $2,900 to Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner for “Words & Pictures: Exploring Graphic Storytelling,” for four panel discussions, two exploring graphic storytelling in literacy education and work with Alzheimer patients and two exploring the comic book and recent media. Culminates in a public lecture by Art Spiegelman, author of Maus.
  • $3,500 to Casa Cultural Dominicana of Worcester for two public events for middle and high school students and their parents that trace changes in the form and reputation of bachata music from its Afro-Caribbean roots to its growing popularity in the U.S.

Greater Boston

  • $3,500 for scholar Jane Redmont to conduct archival research and ethnographies on race, racism, and the experiences of people of color in Boston-based Massachusetts Council of Churches.
  • $3,500 to Artists for Humanity in Boston for a public discussion of hip-hop and international youth culture, featuring AfH’s teen artists and Global Artists in Residence, and scholar Elizabeth Rosner.
  • $3,000 for four Boston-based discussions of works by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., each chosen to be in dialogue with a national or international holiday.
  • $3,000 to Community Change, Inc. in Boston for a panel discussion of Mass Rock Against Racism’s history and the role of music in youth movements.
  • $3,500 to the Massachusetts Historical Society for four, free panel discussions exploring the history of public and affordable housing in Boston, drawing on the voices of current and former residents of public housing sites, as well as those of scholars, public housing administrators, and other government officials.
  • $3,000 to Central Square Theatre in Cambridge for “Witch Hunts Then and Now,” three symposia on the theme of witch hunts through the lens of CST’s production of The Crucible.
  • $3,000 to Documentary Educational Resources in Watertown for a cross-cultural documentary film and discussion series focused on ways of life from around the world, with outreach including the students and alumni of the Clemente Course in the Humanities in Dorchester, a program also funded by Mass Humanities.
  • $3,000 to the New Repertory Theatre in Watertown for six post-performance panel discussions connected to six different productions in 2019-20. Topics include how the media reports on presidential administrations, understanding the experiences of displaced children, and the role of song in social justice movements.
  • $2,000 to the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts to produce a finding aid and index for 100 issues of The Trail Maker, the official magazine of the Massachusetts Girl Scouts, from 1933-1942, so that the history of the Girl Scouts can become more accessible to researchers and the public.
  • $3,500 to the Congregational Church of West Medford to run a film and discussion series at a variety of community sites that engages the audience in discussions about the responsibility of the individual to the collective. Discussions will be led by high-school youth trained to facilitate these conversations.

Metrowest Boston

  • $2,900 to Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital/Bedford VA Medical Center for “Literature and the Experience of War,” a humanities-based reading and discussion group for staff working with veterans, with potential topics including the intergenerational transmission of war trauma, the impact of the civil war on slaves, and the effects of sexual trauma on military personnel.


  • $3,000 to Paul Pratt Memorial Library in Cohasset for “Great Decisions 2020,” a weekly reading and discussion series on a range of current, global issues chosen by the non-partisan Foreign Policy Association, with discussions led by scholars.
  • $3,500 to Spinner Publications in New Bedford for four discussions in Southeastern Massachusetts of Paul Cuffe’s history and legacy. Cuffe was born free into an Afro-Native Quaker family on Cuttyhunk Island and became a businessman, sea captain, and advocate for people of color.

Western Massachusetts

  • $3,000 to the Leverett Historical Commission for two public events that comprise “A Sense of Where You Are,” a community engagement and discussion project focused on Leverett’s industrial history and historic landscape.
  • $3,200 for “Community Shakespeare,” a series of free Shakespeare seminars at the Northampton Senior Center, Kinney Renaissance Center, and Christopher Heights Assisted Living, four featuring Arden Everywhere’s Jessica Bauman.
  • $1,800 to Baystate Health in Springfield for a humanities-based reading and discussion series for health professionals to support the social and emotional aspects of patient care by discussing poems and short stories that help participants think about what it means to live a good life.


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 millions of dollars in support of thousands of 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. Twitter Facebook Instagram