Foundation delivers more than $750,000 for projects examining ideas and people of Massachusetts
In September, Mass Humanities concluded its third round of the Expand Massachusetts Stories initiative by providing grants to 42 cultural nonprofit organizations across Massachusetts.
The grants support projects that collect, interpret and share narratives about the Commonwealth, emphasizing the voices and experiences of residents that too often go unrecognized, or have been excluded from public conversation and public history. Mass Humanities launched the initiative in 2021. Since then, the foundation has distributed more than $1.8 million to projects across the state that included audio tours, documentary films, oral histories, public events, and archival research
“The stories belong to people seeking to navigate this place, with all its complexities, ingenuity and local traditions,” said Brian Boyles, Executive Director of Mass Humanities. “These organizations are led by neighbors who choose to engage with each other through the humanities. In a time when some seek to erase our shared responsibility to the past, the Expand Mass. Stories grant recipients seek out the truth with courage and hope.”
A full list of grants by region is provided below.
The initiative is made possible through support from Mass Cultural Council and the Barr Foundation.
“Every creative community has a compelling story to tell,” said Michael J. Bobbitt, Executive Director, Mass Cultural Council. “Today’s EMS grant recipients are about to inspire us all through these conversations. I cannot wait to experience, learn and engage with them. Thank you, Mass Humanities, for ensuring this important dialogue happens in Massachusetts.”
First-time grantees, 2021-23
Increase in funding for projects led by people of color, 2021-23
The majority of funds went to organizations receiving their first Mass Humanities grant, while 67% of the supported projects are led by people of color, and 65% of the organizations had annual operating budgets of less than $300,000. Fifteen of the organizations received funding through the Advancing Equity Track. The grants complete Mass Humanities’ funding cycle for 2023, in which Mass Humanities delivered nearly $2.5 million in direct support to nonprofits, the most in the foundation’s history.
CAPE AND ISLANDS
Migrant Communities Project
“Cape Cod Community Scholar Immigrant History Initiative”
The Community Scholar Immigrant History Initiative is a citizen scientist project to train/assist members of Cape Verdean and Portuguese communities to research migration histories, conduct interviews, and create historical narratives. The grant supports community scholars (workshops on conducting archival research, research design, oral history and artifact collection); and resources necessary to put on a historical and ethnographic traveling exhibit and webpage.
The Generations Project
LGBTQ+ Provincetown is an exhibit on the LGBTQ+ history of Provincetown, to be permanently displayed at the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum. The Generations Project will conduct oral histories and archival research, tagging videos of historical subjects, and programming an interactive user platform for museum guests. |
“Exploring the Deaf History of Martha’s Vineyard”
“Exploring the Deaf History of Martha’s Vineyard” is a research and documentary film project that includes a series of private and public screenings, with dialogues, to uncover the story of a now-extinct system of signing used by Deaf and hearing people alike on this remote island off the coast of Massachusetts. The grant supports for research, filming, editing, production, post-production, honoraria for humanities experts, and public programming.
“Finding Our Folks in the Spirit of Sankofa: Bringing Black Genealogy to Worcester”
“Finding Our Folks in the Spirit of Sankofa” is a series of workshops and a community presentation designed to provide Black community members the tools needed to overcome racial historical barriers and explore their personal family history. OurStory Edutainment will use the EMS grant for research tools, to pay for use of space, for snacks/food & printing for workshops and final presentation, and to compensate workshop facilitator and staff.
The Village Afrocentric Cultural Center
“Preserving Our Black Legacy”
“Preserving Our Black Legacy” is a community-driven documentary project aiming to capture the story of Black Legacy and the role its members played in local efforts to bring racial justice & accountability to the city of Worcester. The grant to the Village Worcester supports costs associated with filmmaking and staff to power this project, stipends for community members for their time and stories, and a community viewing and discussion of the film.
CONNECTICUT RIVER VALLEY
American Farmland Trust
“Grit, Grace, and Growth – The Seldom Shared Stories of Women Farming Across the Commonwealth” “Grit, Grace, and Growth” is an immersive digital media project featuring women farming in Massachusetts today. The project concludes with a free launch event with facilitated discussion to connect people to the role of women in farming, and how their experience is informed by the past and adapted by the future. Funding from Mass Humanities supports farmer interviews and stipends, videography to bring stories to life, and event materials.
Amherst Historical Society
“Cambodian Community in Amherst – Resettlement, Integration, and Inclusion”
“Cambodian Community in Amherst” will tell stories of Cambodian residents through an exhibition, recorded interviews, and community events such as musical performance and conversations. The Amherst Historical Society will use grant funds for oral histories and assistance for the exhibition of community treasures, printing educational panels, and other necessary materials. Honoraria for members of the Cambodian Community will recognize their commitment to this effort.
Common Wealth Murals
“Massachusetts AfriCOBRA Archives”
The AfriCOBRA Archive Project (TAAP) will catalog fifty years of primary and secondary source material related to the history of AfriCOBRA and begin the process of finding a permanent and publicly accessible home for the archives. The grant supports the organizing and cataloging of the materials, consultation with leading archivists, and a public forum which will situate the archives and its importance in the larger context of the Black Arts Movement in Massachusetts and the US.
“Faces of Medicine”
Faces of Medicine is a documentary film that demonstrates the need for increased representation of historically excluded people in medicine as a crucial element of improving health equity. Doctorbird will host a free screening at Amherst Cinemas followed by a panel discussion. Funding will support marketing, creating interactive media materials, admission costs, honoraria for speakers and compensation to the creative/production team.
Love Art Collective
“Rosemary in the Field | Creative Meets Pervasive”
“Rosemary in the Field” is a snapshot biography of Rosemary Tracy Woods, a BIPOC creative woman within the Springfield cultural arena in the middle of the 20th Century. The project tracks her influence on Western Mass and the greater art world. The grant to Love Art Collective supports reusable equipment, design, receptions, travel, honoraria for interviewees, print materials, and indirect costs. $20,000
Michelle Falcón Fontánez
“Ashes in My Neighborhood”
Ashes in My Neighborhood is a three-part mini-doc following Maria, a Puerto Rican historian, as she uncovers the political, environmental, and psychological impacts of fires in her childhood neighborhood of South Holyoke throughout the 1970s. The grant supports the last video of the series, a roundtable discussion where Maria will be joined by experts to discuss her findings, and the editing of entire documentary series. The series will be screened publicly throughout Massachusetts.
Mount Calvary Baptist Church
“Mount Calvary Baptist Church Oral History Project”
“The Mount Calvary Baptist Church Oral History Project” will document the historical and cultural experiences of elder African American members related to the Great Migration, African American cultural practices, Springfield’s local African American history, and experiences as legacy members of the church. Mount Calvary Baptist Church, in partnership with Themba Arts and Culture, will use grant funds to support research, conduct oral history interviews, and create an online digital exhibition and podcast series.
Museum of Our Industrial Heritage
“At Sword’s Point: A Labor History”
At Sword’s Point is a one-hour radio documentary about a crucial but little-known crossroads in the history of American labor. The Museum of Our Industrial Heritage will produce the documentary with support from New England Public Media. Mass Humanities grant supports research and production expenses, as well as a community engagement event following the release.
Ohketeau Cultural Center
“The Living Presence of Our History: Parts IX & X”
“The Living Presence of Our History” is an ongoing series of panel discussions with Indigenous leaders, scholars, and culture-makers on various contemporary Indigenous topics. Funding will support the remuneration of panelists for two installments of this critical program of facilitated discussions about Indigenous issues, both in historical context and contemporarily. $
Piti Theatre Company
The Princes of Deerfield
The Princes of Deerfield is a short documentary focused on the lives of Abijah and Lucy Terry Prince while they resided in Deerfield in the early 1760’s. The grant from Mass Humanities supports research, filming, editing, and honoraria for speakers at a post-screening moderated panel discussion.
Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association
“New Roots in River Banks: Contributions of Polish/Eastern European Immigrants to the Connecticut River Valley”
“New Roots in River Banks” i a series of free and open to the public talks, exhibits, day of culture and history, education programs, oral histories, and a portal with new content on the American Centuries website. Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association will use funding for research, public and school programs, exhibit materials, honoraria for speakers, and website additions.
“Teaching Local History: Diverse Stories at the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum”
“Teaching Local History” is an educational outreach initiative culminating in a week-long teacher institute, designed to build collaborative relations with local schools and to develop new standards based curricular materials that stress the diversity of local history. A grant for the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum supports planning and implementing the institute, bringing in guest speakers, and providing materials to teachers.
Springfield Dementia Friendly Coalition
“A Sense of Dignity – My journey through the world of Dementia “
“A Sense of Dignity” is an exhibit and forum which helps expose under-represented and underserved populations in Springfield to the world of dementia through the lens of caregivers and/or a person living with dementia. The grant supports honoraria for storytellers, photography and portraits, videotaping, print materials, event location, and consultants.”
Town of Longmeadow Public Schools
“Longmeadow Witness Stones Project”
“Longmeadow Witness Stones Project” is a curriculum for restoring history and honoring the humanity of enslaved persons who helped build the local community. The funding will support research, design, speakers, production, and ceremonies to be held to share the lives of Longmeadow’s enslaved persons with the community.
“TRANSciende (TRANScend) Photography Exhibition”
“TRANSciende (TRANScend)” is a documentary photography project created to amplify and make visible the stories of Latinx transgender and gender-diverse individuals residing in Springfield, Holyoke, and all parts of western Massachusetts. In collaboration with Dr. Eunice Avilés Faría and Holyoke Media, Transhealth will use MH funding for research, outreach, travel, printing of photographs, space rental, and honoraria for photographers, participants, and a humanities advisor.
Cambridge Black History Project
“Lift Every Voice – An oral history initiative of the Cambridge Black History Project”
“Lift Every Voice” is an oral history initiative of the Cambridge Black History Project (CBHP) that will lift up and amplify the unique stories of 25 contemporary living African Americans who were born and/or raised in Cambridge, and whose lives are examples of a way of life that has virtually disappeared locally, statewide and region wide. The grants supports recording, archiving and presenting these stories to the general public in Cambridge and beyond.
Chinatown Community Land Trust
“Chinatown Immigrant History Trail”
“The Immigrant History Trail” is a multimedia public art project activating Boston Chinatown’s community archives and current voices to share stories about the neighborhood’s immigrant working class histories. The Expand Mass. Stories grant supports expense for project coordination, research, design, printing and fabrication, and web development.
Different Threads of the Same Fabric
“Different Threads of the Same Fabric”
Different Threads is a storytelling project that will engage community members to share reflections of justice work in Boston communities between the years of 1970 and 2010. The all-volunteer Steward Committee will conduct interviews, revise stories, design and print booklets, and organize a multi-media event (exhibiting photos, fliers, and other memorabilia that accompany the stories) to share lessons about community organizing and activism reflected in their stories.
Massachusetts Historical Society
“Boston Beats: Moments when Boston Music Changed the Country”
“Boston Beats” is an exploration of the way a small city, facing economic instability, was able to change music across America. The program series will include panel discussions that are supported by video interviews remembering 4 genres of music in the 20th century. The series may also include walking tours, film screenings, and musical performances. The Massachusetts Historical Society requests support for research, video production, and honoraria for speakers and interviewees.
“The Power of Our Stories: Testimonios from Boston’s Immigrant Women”
“The Power of Our Stories”” is an oral history and digital archive project focused on the immigration and labor experiences of a community of female immigrants. Northeastern University in partnership with the Dominican Development Center (DDC) receive funding for the collection, transcription, editing and translation of interviews to create short videos and then a digital archive for an ongoing collection of testimonios from this community.
Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy
“Zipporah Potter Atkins (ZPA): Amplifying the Story of Boston’s First Black Woman Homeowner c. 1670”
ZPA is a site-specific exhibition in The Greenway’s North End that engages with the site’s history as home of Zipporah Potter Atkins, the first Black land/homeowner in Boston. The grant from MH supports research and development of humanities texts, the production of public engagement materials (didactic signage, printed takeaways, a documentary video and podcast) and public programming relating to Potter Atkins and her significance in local/national history and culture.
The Boston Home
“The Boston Home Healing Stories”
“The Boston Home (TBH) Healing Stories is a storytelling and story-sharing project through which members of TBH community will develop, write and share their stories of living with a progressive disability. Stories will draw on unique, individual experiences while also opening discussion of widely relatable and broadly relevant themes. TBH will partner with Health Story Collaborative, whose staff will work with 8 members of TBH community to develop and present their stories.
The Proprietors of the Boston Athenaeum
“The Harriet Hayden Albums: Visualizing Freedom, Reconstructing Community”
“The Harriet Hayden Albums” is a community-based exhibition that focuses on and contextualizes two Civil War-era carte-de-visite photograph albums that once belonged to the self-emancipated, anti-slavery activist Harriet Bell Hayden (1816-1893), wife of abolitionist Lewis Hayden (1811-1889), two key members of Boston’s Underground Railroad network. The funding supports exhibition supplies and materials.
“UNCLEAN: Is Urban Trauma The New Leprosy?”
“UNCLEAN” is a multi-disciplinary narrative project that includes poetry, written narratives and other story-telling. The presentations and discussions series will examine the historical and contemporary similarities between societal treatment of lepers in centuries past, and the present day treatment of urban trauma survivors. VOICES 21C received support for personnel training, venue costs, presenter fees, and marketing costs.
The Robbins House
“Ellen Garrison and the Concord Roots of an Activist’s Life”
“Ellen Garrison and the Concord Roots of an Activist’s Life” is a short hybrid documentary film, combining interviews, archival materials, and other narrative scenes to make Ellen Garrison’s story come to life. This grant will make possible the filming of experts such as historians Robert Gross, Sandra Petrulionis, and Kerri Greenidge, and Robbins House experts Maria Madison and Nicki Turpin, bringing diverse perspectives to questions of how historical figures navigated claiming their civic rights. $10,000
West Medford Community Center
“West Medford African American Veterans Project”
The West Medford African American Veterans Project is a short video (30-45 min) on the lives and families of the West Medford African American men and women military service members during the 20th century. The project will include a curated exhibit and community presentation event. The West Medford Community Center (WMCC) requests support for staff compensation, consultative services, research, marketing & promotion, exhibit development, translation, and speaker honoraria $20,000
Searching for Flora
ActiveVista Media received funding for the completion of a short form documentary, “Searching for Flora” (working title), and two community screenings. This 15-minute documentary film will follow the journey of Father Nathan and congregants of St. Peter’s Church in Salem as they search for answers about the men and women enslaved by the Church’s first ministers and reconcile with their church’s involvement with slavery.
Angkor Dance Troupe
“Following Mekhala’s Jewels: The Legacy of Cambodian American Dance “
“Following Mekhala’s Jewels: The Legacy of Cambodian American Dance” is a documentary film and two facilitated panel discussions about the legacy of Master Teacher of Cambodian Dance Chea Samy and her impact on generations of Cambodian American dancers through Master Teacher Phousita Huy of Angkor Dance Troupe of Lowell. Angkor Dance Troupe will use funding to develop the film and hold free, in-person screenings and panel discussions, open to the public.
Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association
“Remembering The Killing Fields, Celebrating Our Survivors’ Resiliency”
“Remembering The Killing Fields, Celebrating Our Survivors’ Resiliency” is a month-long recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Khmer Rouge genocide. The event will commemorate the 1.7 million Cambodians killed, while also celebrating the community’s resiliency. The program will include photo exhibits, video stories, story-sharing interviews, film screenings, and more. CMAA will hire a Special Projects Coordinator to plan, coordinate, and manage this project.
Cape Ann Museum
“Vessels of Slavery: Reclamation”
“Vessels of Slavery: Reclamation” is a collaborative public history project designed to create opportunities for all members of the Cape Ann community to face and process the lives of enslaved people and the local impact of the history of slavery in a safe but provocative environment. Five women of color will receive stipends to conduct research, host discussions, and design a culminating outdoor exhibit.
“Interpreting Slavery and the Enslaved at the 1768 Jeremiah Lee Estate”
“Interpreting Slavery and the Enslaved at the 1768 Jeremiah Lee Estate” is a project consisting of guided tours and public programs that share the untold history of the enslaved individuals in Marblehead in order to provide historical context for today’s issues of racial justice. Marblehead Museum requests received a grant for interpretive planning activities, including updating furnishing plans and purchasing artifacts/reproductions; training staff and guides; honoraria for public speakers; and publicity. $19,184
Newburyport Preservation Trust
“2023 Annual William Lloyd Garrison Lecture”
The Annual William Lloyd Garrison Lecture is held to raise awareness about themes proposed by Newburyport native, abolitionist, and suffragist, Garrison, and relate them to modern issues, especially around diversity, race, gender, and inclusion. The lecture is supported by the Newburyport Preservation Trust, a local nonprofit, and Mass Humanities will support half of our speaker fee for the lecture.
The Latino Leadership Coalition
“The Latino Heritage Project of Salem”
“The Latino Heritage Project of Salem” will collect oral histories of the first Latino immigrants to Salem, covering at least the last 70 years of migration from the Caribbean to the city. The grant to the Latino Leadership Coalition supports research, design, collection of oral histories, community presentation events, and honoraria for speakers and consultants.
United Lynn Pride
“Through a Rainbow Lens, A Reflection on Lynn’s LGBTQ+ History”
“Through a Rainbow Lens” is a series of cross-generational community conversations, an archive and an online exploration, to document, preserve, and disseminate Lynn’s multicultural LGBTQ+ history, by collecting oral histories, memorabilia, and other recordings of Lynn’s LGBTQ+ elders, many of whom are immigrants and/or people of color. United Lynn Pride received support for research, web development, software, equipment, storage, hosting, digitization, staff compensation, honoraria, and food. $20,000
University of Massachusetts Lowell
“Unbroken Bonds: The Meaning of Slavery and Abolition in a Northern Textile City”
“Unbroken Bonds” is a suite of resources for high school students and teachers: a teacher workshop, virtual field trip, and online resources—all focused on antebellum connections between Lowell’s cotton textile industry and the enslavement of Black people on cotton plantations. R The Tsongas Industrial History Center will also develop resources to examine antislavery actions of Black and white Lowellians in this period.
Indigenous Peoples Network
“Black and Red: The Dilemma of African American-Indigenous Identity in Massachusetts”
“Black and Red: The Dilemma of African American-Indigenous Identity in Massachusetts” is a 30-minute film, produced by the Indigenous Peoples Network, exploring the historic and current racial identity of African American-Indigenous members of the Pocasset Wampanoag of the Pokanoket Nation, descendants who saved the Plymouth Colony. The Indigenous Peoples Network received support for storyboard, pre-production, recording of interviews, editing, stipends, and premiere event for community discussion
New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center
“Casting a Wider Net”
“Casting a Wider Net” aims to collect and share the stories of Cape Verdean, Vietnamese, Mexican, and Central American members of the fishing community. New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center requests support for community training and research, translation, and costs associated with related public programs.