For the NEH…

Historians Joan Kelly, Alice Kessler-Harris, Joan Scott, and Nell Painter, photographer Candacy Taylor, and filmmaker Mira Nair. What do these women have in common? All received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), a government-funded agency now more than a half-century old.

Operating under the banner “Because democracy demands wisdom,” the NEH provides funds to “cultural institutions, such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television, and radio stations, and to individual scholars.” These funds help share photos depicting scenes from across an ocean and time (and art and artifacts from the North American continent too), bring books to life, engage young minds at the museum, disseminate knowledge to educators, and tell us what’s in the archives so we can find it later!

Even if you’re not a scholar, you may have come into contact with the NEH. It’s one of those things you might hear about on PBS (This programming is made possible by…). Personally, one of my favorite pieces of NEH work is “The Presidents” on PBS’s American Experience.

As a student, I have come across the work of or had some sort of connection to all the individuals I named above. Joan Kelly was one of the creators of the SLC Women’s History program. Alice Kessler-Harris, who once taught at SLC, was one of the women’s historians whose work I came across while browsing the library of the women’s center where I once worked. Joan Scott and Candacy Taylor’s works were among our readings in our first year as graduate students. Nell Painter presented the keynote address at our “Black Women in White America, Revisited,” conference this year. I wrote about one of Mira Nair’s projects in an undergraduate paper on women-directed films. It is exciting to think that NEH grants helped them on their way to success, on their way to students like us seeing their work and being inspired.

If you are a member of the American Historical Association (AHA) or a savvy observer of the news, you may have heard way back in January about imperiled funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities. Well, the President’s budget proposal is now out in the open, and the AHA has provided its analysis of the President’s proposal, which is basically to dissolve the NEH.

As a graduate student who wants my fellow classmates and my teachers to have opportunities for research and for the exhibition of their work to the public, I see the National Endowment for the Humanities as an important asset to this country. When grants that can, for example, help us protect our primary source documents or interpret history for techloving audiences are in danger, the professions to which many students aspire are also in danger. It’s important that we protect the NEH!

 

This article reflects the opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sarah Lawrence College or the SLC Women’s History program.

FRIDAY MARCH 1st: Opening Night & Keynote Speaker ALICE KESSLER-HARRIS

Friday March 1, 2013

4:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Registration in Heimbold Lobby — Pick up your conference materials and mingle with other passionate women’s historians!

6:00 p.m. HEIMBOLD AUDITORIUM: THE MAIN EVENT!

Welcome Address: Rona Holub, Director, Women’s History Graduate Program, Sarah Lawrence College

Keynote Address: Alice Kessler-Harris, R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of American History, Columbia University

Alice Kessler-Harris, distinguished professor of history and keynote speaker at the conference's opening event on Friday March 1st at 6 PM.

Alice Kessler-Harris, distinguished professor of history and keynote speaker at the conference’s opening event on Friday March 1st at 6 PM.

Alice Kessler-Harris earned her PhD from Rutgers in 1968. She is the author of numerous women’s labor histories including Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States (1982) and Women Have Always Worked: A Historical Overview (1981). She is a pioneer in her field and a beloved professor; she currently teaches at Columbia University and is the R. Gordon Hoxie professor of American History there. She has recently published a book called A Difficult Woman: The Challenging Life and Times of Lillian Hellman. We are so privileged and honored to host her at our Women’s History conference in honor of Amy Swerdlow and Gerda Lerner, two close colleagues and friends of Dr. Kessler-Harris’. 

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8:00 p.m.

Reception: Slonim Living Room

We look forward to seeing you there for this inspiring opening program!