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Mass Humanities Announces $177,000 in Grants

Mass Humanities has awarded grants totaling $177,053 in support of 34 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 life experiences of Ugandan immigrants in Waltham, the relationships between Pilgrim settlers and Wampanoag peoples in Plymouth, and a documentary exploring couples whose marriages have broken new ground.

The Mastheads received a grant for programs in Pittsfield
The Mastheads received a grant for programs in Pittsfield. Photo: Justin Allen

“Our most recent grants are a reminder that, in an era marked by discord and uncertainty, the humanities offer common ground,” said Mass Humanities Executive Director Brian Boyles. “Whether by reading the work of Frederick Douglass together or discussing difficult moments in our history, people in Massachusetts come together to learn, to listen, and to imagine the future of their communities.”

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.


  • $5,000 to the Flying Cloud Institute in Great Barrington for a project with 20 underserved Pittsfield girls in an after-school science program that uses theater- and humanities-based discussion to help them understand the production of scientific knowledge as a process shaped by social and cultural forces.
  • $2,325 to Chester Theatre Company for four post-performance discussions with various scholars. Plays include Now Circa Then and On the Exhale.
  • $2,000 to Lee Historical Society to inventory their collection and create a finding aid.
  • $3,500 to the City of Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development for “Class and Culture in the Gilded Age Berkshires,” a lecture and moderated discussion on the early lens of James Van Der Zee and the pen of W.E.B. Du Bois, part of The Mastheads’ 2019 season.
  • $3,500 to Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield for a free symposium on environmental challenges in the Berkshires accompanying a performance of Fall Springs, a dark musical comedy about environmental disaster.
  • $395 to the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum in Adams to host an educational family day culminating in a reading and discussion of Frederick Douglass’s speech on the meaning of the Fourth of July.

Cape Cod & Islands

  • $14,925 to Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth for Biography of a Landscapean exhibit and public lecture on the relationships between Pilgrim settlers, Wampanoag peoples, and their shared environment.
  • $1,500 to the Cape Cod Cape Verdean Museum and Cultural Center/Associacao Caboverdiana de Brockton in Brewster for a reading and discussion of Douglass’s speech on the meaning of the Fourth of July. The reading will take place on July 5th, Cape Verdean Independence Day.


  • $2,000 to the Photographic Presentation Center to organize, inventory, and digitize items from the collection of Auburn photographer Winfried Sommerfeld.

Greater Boston

  • $3,000 to Fort Point Theatre Channel in Boston for a discussion of the “Her Story Is” project, exploring how a small group of American and Iraqi female writers are collaborating with each other as they translate both language and culture, including the impact of war.
  • $7,500 to the Arlington Historical Society for The Day History Marched Down Our Streets, a permanent exhibit about the site of the most intense fighting on the first day of the American Revolution.
  • $15,000 to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston for a 20-minute program on the suffrage movement in the U.S., with a focus on 1910-20. The program will become part of EMK’s rotating repertoire of daily programs.
  • $6,500 to the Museum of African American History in Boston for lectures on the history of jazz and the creation of an exhibit showcasing the African Meeting House as a gathering place for members of Boston’s black community and their allies since the early nineteenth century.

Metrowest Boston

  • $12,914 to African Cultural Services in Waltham for Diary of a Confused Immigrant–Telling Our Stories, a community-based participatory research project and performance exploring the experiences of the town’s Ugandan immigrant community.
  • $7,500 to The Drinking Gourd Project in Concord for research and design of a family tree representing the intertwined relationships of Robbins House residents, all connected to Caesar Robbins, an African American Revolutionary War soldier.
  • $600 to The Robbins House in Concord for a reading and discussion of Douglass’s speech on the meaning of the Fourth of July that illuminates the black freedom struggle from the Declaration of Independence through the present day.
  • $3,500 to Good Shepherd Community Care in Newton and the organization Living Wisely, Dying Well to host four lecture and small-group discussion events that incorporate the arts and humanities into death and dying education.


  • $3,500 to New Lynn Coalition for a July 3 reading and discussion of Douglass’s speech on the meaning of the Fourth of July and a follow-up discussion in September, “The Unfinished Agenda of Frederick Douglass in the 21st Century: Which Way is the Arc of Justice Bending Today?”
  • $2,000 to the University of Massachusetts Lowell for a finding aid for a collection of Jack Kerouac’s papers recently gifted to the university.


  • $8,750 to the Center for Independent Documentary in Walpole for distribution of the documentary film Exile and Community: The Life of Carola Domar. The film focuses on the life of a Jewish teen living in Germany in the 1930s who was targeted by the Nazis and eventually escaped to Britain and then to Massachusetts.
  • $15,000 to the Center for Independent Documentary in Walpole for pre-production of a documentary exploring the institution of marriage and the couples whose marriages have broken new ground, including the first same-sex couple to obtain a marriage license in the U.S.
  • $500 to Old Parish Preservation Volunteers in Norwood to host a reading and discussion of Frederick Douglass’s speech on the meaning of the Fourth of July. The reading will be part of the town’s July 4th celebration.
  • $500 to The Frederick Douglass Neighborhood Association in Brockton to host a reading and discussion of Frederick Douglass’s speech on the meaning of the Fourth of July. The speech will be read in many different languages.
  • $3,500 to South Coast LGBTQ Network in New Bedford for a series of four films at the New Bedford Whaling Museum related to LGBTQ+ experiences, followed by panel discussions and conversations with the audience.
  • $2,000 to Sharon Public Library for the repair and digitization of the papers of Eugene Tappan, Sharon’s first historian, as well as the creation of a finding aid.
  • $2,000 to Mansfield Public Library to digitize 30 reels of the Mansfield News, a local newspaper dating back to 1873.
  • $2,000 to the Hanover Historical Society to produce an annotated catalog of documents and artifacts related to the history of shipbuilding on the North River.

Western Massachusetts

  • $2,200 to Shaw Memorial Library in Plainfield to host a reading and discussion of Douglass’s speech on the meaning of the Fourth of July, and a follow-up discussion of the Massachusetts State Constitution.
  • $3,500 to the Institute for Environmental Awareness in Petersham for “Building Bridges at the Great Falls: Native Roots and Current Challenges,” a series of events for participants to experience and reflect upon Native culture and presence in Western Massachusetts.
  • $7,500 to the Springfield Public Forum for four events devoted to understanding the history and structural causes of the achievement gap in American education.
  • $3,275 to Silverthorne Theatre Company in Turners Falls for scholar-led discussions of three plays that consider how people navigate cultural identity in situations designed to marginalize, exclude, or exterminate them.
  • $10,670 to Fractured Atlas in Charlemont for two series of scholar-supported workshops with Franklin County youth, who will explore the social and historical contexts of their identity and develop a performance based on the workshops.
  • $15,000 to Filmmakers Collaborative for pre-production of a documentary on the experiences of four women from Voices From Inside, a Greenfield-based organization that facilitates writing groups for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women.

Outside Massachusetts

  • $3,500 to Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives in Honolulu for scholar-led discussions accompanying a performance about one of the first Native Hawai’ian missionaries to travel to New England.


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

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