The humanities are the stories and ideas that help us make sense of our lives and our world. The humanities are a way of thinking about and responding to the world. They allow us to explore the human experience, to reflect upon our lives, and to ask fundamental questions of value, purpose, and meaning.
The Federation is the membership association of the state and territorial humanities councils. It is an independent 501c3 organization, governed by a volunteer board that includes members of the public as well as executive directors of state humanities councils and funded primarily through dues paid by the councils.
The Federation provides services to the councils and represents council interests to Congress, NEH, and other national organizations. The Federation receives input from its members through conversations board members have with council directors after every board meeting, meetings at the annual conference, and surveys conducted throughout the year.
The Federation forms partnerships with other national organizations and institutions with compatible or complementary interests and goals. Through partnerships with such entities as the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, the Pulitzer Prizes, and the Cultural Data Project, the Federation provides councils with programming, funding or other resources to help strengthen and extend their work. The Federation helps forge a stronger and more unified humanities community through partnerships with organizations such as the National Humanities Alliance.
As an independent nonprofit organization, the Federation advocates on behalf of the councils with Congress and other funders and provides a unified national voice for the councils. The National Endowment for the Humanities is the federal agency through which councils receive their congressional appropriation. The Federation and the Federal/State Partnership of the NEH work closely together to serve and represent the interests of the councils.
The Federation conducts a national conference each November which provides an opportunity for councils to come together to hear inspiring humanities presentations, share best practices, exchange programming ideas, and discuss important issues facing the humanities community. In the spring the Federation brings councils together for Humanities on the Hill, at which councils share strategy ideas, receive information about congressional actions, and visit their members of Congress to make the case for humanities funding.
The 2021 National Humanities Conference in-person event has been cancelled due to rising cases of COVID-19 and the Delta variant. More information and updates on any virtual offerings will be forthcoming.
The Walter Capps Memorial Lecture, established by the Federation Board of Directors in 1999, honors the memory of professor, writer, and public servant Walter Capps, who served as the chair of board of both California Humanities and the Federation. Capps Lecturers are selected based on qualities that Walter Capps embodied: an ability to evoke and create meaning through the exchange of stories, a desire to act, a commitment to inclusion of all voices, the promotion of civility in public and private life.
Humanities on the Hill typically takes place the first full week of March. The three-day event kicks off with a members briefing, time for Hill visits, a Congressional Reception, and a members debrief.
The Federation is funded primarily through councils dues, which are assessed through a formula based on the annual general operating support grant each council receives through NEH. The Federation receives some additional funds through individual donations and administrative funds included in grants received by the Federation to fund council participation in special initiatives.
The Federation invites sponsorship of special events at the National Humanities Conference and gives recognition of such sponsorships at the event itself, in the conference program, and through social media outlets.
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The Federation advocates for funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the state humanities councils. Each year the Federation’s legislative committee develops a funding request for the NEH and the councils, coordinating the request with that of other members of the humanities community. The Federation promotes its request through a position paper distributed to councils for use in their communications with their members of Congress, as well as through written and public witness hearing testimony, and face-to-face visits in congressional offices.
NEH is the only federal agency charged with supporting the academic and public humanities and is one of the largest funders of the humanities in the country. The councils receive nearly 40 percent of the NEH program funds allocated by Congress. The Federation believes a strong and adequately funded federal agency for the humanities is important to the civic and educational health of a democratic society.
The Federation provides a variety of resources for councils to exchange information and expertise. In addition to conducting a conference and an advocacy event each year, the Federation also provides a Google Drive archive of more the 1,000 documents to improve council administrative, governance, fund raising and programming practices. The Federation hosts nine Google Groups through which council staff members can communicate with their peers. Other resources include a weekly Update with information from Capitol Hill, the Federation, the NEH, and the humanities community; an online database of council programs; an annual council income report; and a variety of advocacy documents.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for the Federation Google Groups.
All Federation members have access to the Federation Google Drive. To access the drive, please contact the executive director at your council who has the Federation Drive log-in.
To request access or to receive your council log-in, contact Edward Moreno at email@example.com
The Update is a weekly e-newsletter sent to a list of council-affiliated and others to provide information about events on Capitol Hill, Federation activities, NEH events, and news from the humanities community. Council staff and board members and alumni can subscribe by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the best ways to connect with other council staff and board members is to subscribe to one or more of the Federation-sponsored Google Groups by contacting Edward Moreno at email@example.com. The Federation’s National Humanities Conference, which takes place each year in November, offers an opportunity to meet and talk with other council members.
Belonging to the Federation gives individual councils access to a host of resources through the Federation’s Google Drive and connects staff members to their colleagues through one or more of the nine Google Groups. Federation membership enables individual councils to take part in the important national advocacy efforts, from which all councils benefit, and it gives individual councils a voice in policy discussions at NEH and within the larger humanities community. It provides access to national initiatives and resources made available through the Federation.