Finding the Humanities in Everyday American Life
Resources now available for councils

The Federation is pleased to announce that the complete set of eleven customizable briefing documents and three animated videos, which were developed as part of “The Humanities in American Life: Public Awareness” initiative, is now available on the Federation’s website and YouTube channel for councils to use and distribute. This initiative was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and was created to raise public awareness of the vital role the humanities play in American life – from enhancing personal well-being to enriching communities to sustaining our democracy – as well as highlight the array of programs conducted by the state humanities councils. Councils are strongly encouraged to use and adapt these materials when connecting with constituents, partners, and other supporters.


For the creation of these materials, Special Projects Director Nick Hartigan reviewed and analyzed dozens of program descriptions and evaluations from successful council programs and grants; gained first-hand accounts of the benefits, challenges, and motivations for state council work through in-person research trips, phone calls, conference meetings and other events; and conducted preliminary research to better understand specific subject areas and gather useful data and supportive statistics. Five of the documents are subject-related and the other six, thematically-focused. For members, the documents can be customized and tailored to highlight individual programs using the “Case in Point” box and can be used in connecting with constituents and supporters. Instructions for downloading and customizing the documents are provided on the website. These documents were produced in partnership with the Arlington-based design firm, Top Shelf.

The documents focus on the following:



All existing 55 humanities councils were represented in the briefing papers (the Virgin Islands did not have a council during the period of this project).


Following the completion of the documents, the Federation worked with The Duke & The Duck to develop three short animated videos in order to tell a visual story of how councils contribute to a stronger, more vibrant democracy. The animated videos are: “We Are the Humanities” (2:28); “Family Literacy” (1:08); and “Strengthening Democracy” (1:10). A Spanish-language version of “Strengthening Democracy” is also being produced and is in the final stages.


Future plans for this initiative are still unfolding; however, the Federation is dedicated to using these materials to generate greater understanding and appreciation of the humanities and their role in strengthening democracy, and is exploring developing additional resources on other topics. The Federation intends to develop key messages around each topic, engage those close to the programs and subjects, and focus communications efforts on exploring those subjects while pointing back to council programs and involvement. These resources, current and future, will raise awareness of the importance of the humanities as a key resource in understanding and contextualizing issues facing Americans across the country, in local communities, with diverse backgrounds, and in all walks of life.

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Questions? Please email Communications Director Natalie Pak at


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