The attack on archaeology has begun. Unless you’ve been excavating under a rock this past week, your social media feed has probably been full of posts regarding the Trump administration’s budget proposal that includes eliminating two cultural organizations: the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. While both are equally important, my immediate focus will be on the National Endowment for the Humanities as it is the organization with which I’m most familiar.
What is the NEH? Created in 1965, the National Endowment for the Humanities provides grants that typically go to cultural institutions, such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities that help to fund essential scientific research and preservation. Just a few of the amazing projects the NEH has provided crucial funding and support for include:
- Providing over $800,000 in funding to fund the excavation of the Uluburun shipwreck off of the Turkish Coast.
- Nearly $350,000 in support to fund the Jamestown Rediscovery Team.
- Supporting the National Geographic Society and National Gallery of Art with $1 million dollars to organize the first exhibition of the artifacts from Tillya Tepe and other historically significant Afghan sites.
- Partnering with the W. E. B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University with financial support of $1,025,644 to create a Transatlantic Slave Trade Database.
These are just a few examples of the wonderful work the NEH has helped support.
Now, more than ever, the NEH needs the help and support of the people who value its mission and contributions. We cannot allow an organization crucial to the funding of ground-breaking research to be defunded, dismantled, and discarded. Now is the time to act. Here is a list of things you can do to contribute to the fight:
Contact your state representatives directly. The National Humanities Alliance is a great springboard through which you can contact your state representative. Their site provides a boiler plate letter you can send to your state rep based on your mailing address.
You can do one better by printing out the letter and sending it through the post. Mail in hand has a much larger impact than messages in an inbox.
Even better… hand write the letter. Use the boiler plate as a base provided by the NHA website and include your own personal experiences. This is the method I prefer. I’ve received a by mail reply in the half-dozen instances I’ve chosen to hand write a letter.
Contact your state representatives through social media. Use openstates.org to find your state legislators on social media. Contact them through Facebook and Twitter and urge them to support the NEH.
Share your personal experiences. Have a memory or experience associated with the NEH and the projects it supports? You may and not even know it. Browse this list of notable NEH funded projects. Were you awed by the treasures of King Tut when they came to America in the late 1970s? Have you utilized microfilm converted into digital image by NEH funds? Your first hand experiences with NEH projects highlights how important they really are.
Start using the #SavetheNEH hashtag. If you’re tweeting anything related to the humanities, be sure to include #SavetheNEH hashtag to build traction.
Sign this White House petition. If the petition gathers 100,000 signatures, it will be put in a queue to be reviewed by the White House. There’s no guarantee our new Commander-in-Chief will do anything with it, but it is worth the effort.
Stay informed of what is happening. Share articles and news relating to the wonderful work of the NEH. Browse their Humanities magazine. View their In The Field web series and better acquaint yourself with the work being done.
As more information becomes available, I’ll do my best to update this page. If a new strategy develops, I’ll be sure to share it. Feel free to leave comments in the section below and please disperse this page through your social media outlets.