Our Guiding Principles

Furthering Racial Equity

The Federation of State Humanities Councils’ board of directors and staff are committed to furthering racial equity through diversity, equity, inclusion, and access work across our organization.  Read our statement here.

Making Connections

The humanities councils, through their connection to communities and organizations in every corner of their state, are essential entities for extending the reach of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Preserving Democracy

The humanities strengthen the civic, cultural, and social fabric of society by fostering understanding and promoting an engaged citizenry.

Spreading Knowledge

The humanities councils play a vital role in ensuring that humanities programming reaches all Americans.

Discovering Who We Are

Through the humanities we discover who we are: diverse communities in one nation, one nation in a diverse world.

Creating Impact

The humanities councils have a greater impact when they are united in purpose and voice.


Since its founding in 1977, the Federation of State Humanities Councils has been committed to providing leadership, advocacy, and resources to help members advance programs that engage millions of citizens across diverse populations in community and civic life.



  • The Mellon Foundation Awards the Federation $1.96 million for “Why it Matters: Civic and Electoral Participation”.
  • Awards to 43 councils for programs exploring civic participation as it relates to electoral engagement in a multivocal democracy.


  • Phoebe Stein appointed president.


  • The Mellon Foundation awards the Federation $150,000 to continue “Humanities in American Life”.


  • The Mellon Foundation awards the Federation $1.75 million to continue “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” initiative.


  • The Mellon Foundation awards the Federation $1.7 million for “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” initiative.
  • Awards to 49 councils for programs examining relationships among democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry.


  • Federation partners with Pulitzer Prizes to launch Centennial Campfires Programming.
  • Awards to 46 councils total more than $1.5 million for grassroots programming in celebration of the Pulitzer’s Centennial.


  • The Federation and the National Humanities Alliance initiate a partnership to co-host the annual National Humanities Conference.


  • Esther Mackintosh appointed president.


  • Gail Leftwich Kitch succeeds Jamil Zainaldin as president.


  • Amerika Samoa Humanities Council was formed.


  • Northern Marianas Humanities Council was formed.


  • Humanities Guahan was formed.


  • Federation’s headquarters moved from Minneapolis, MN, to Washington, D.C., and Jamil Zainaldin is appointed president.


  • The Rhode Island Committee for the Humanities (now the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities) wins the first Schwartz Prize.


  • Humanities Councils vote to form the Federation of State Humanities Councils with Steve Weiland as president; decision is made to have the Federation headquarters in Minneapolis, MN.


  • The Federal/State Partnership Office at NEH was created as the liaison between the NEH and the state and jurisdictional humanities councils.


  • The first 51 humanities councils are formed, including Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.


  • President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the National Arts and Humanities Act, creating the NEH.