Funding Austin History

Austin lands $50,000 federal arts grant to digitally map historic local cemetery

Austin scores $50K federal grant to digitally map historic cemetery

Oakwood Cemetery Austin
The grant will help the city learn more about those in unmarked graves at Oakwood.  Visit Austin

The City of Austin is one of eight recipients in Texas to score a recent grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities that will help provide some historical context for the oldest city-owned cemetery in town. According to a release, the federal agency will dole out $28.4 million in grants for 239 humanities projects across the U.S., with eight of those projects located in Texas.

The NEH was created to support research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities. It’s taxpayer-funded, and for four years in a row, the Trump administration threatened to cut its budget. However, during that time, the NEH budget actually grew from $148 million to $237 million (including CARES Act funding). Joe Biden, of course, proposed an increase.

Most of the funded projects are arcane and/or super academic, such as the creation of an app to make it easier to research digitized ancient manuscripts from St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt, the world’s oldest continually operating library. That is clearly a must-have.

Then there are translation projects, like an annotated translation of classical Chinese commentaries on Confucius’ chronicles of court history, and the first comprehensive, freely available edition of all extant Greek and Latin inscribed legislation from classical Rome.

Other grants will enable the publication of books, such as a biography of neuroscientist and writer Oliver Sacks; a book on the making and legacy of 1950 film Sunset Boulevard; and a narrative history of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

This round of funding also marks the addition of the Boston Public Library as a hub for the National Digital Newspaper project, expanding the reach of the Chronicling America online database of historical American newspapers to include newspapers published in Massachusetts between 1690 and 1963. Additional funding awarded in this round will support ongoing newspaper digitization work in Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Montana, Rhode Island, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Texas received $864,675 total for these eight projects:

City of Austin: $50,000
Title: A Geographical Approach to Inclusive History at Oakwood Cemetery
Description: The creation of an innovative digital model to help determine the location of and provide historical context for marginalized individuals in unmarked graves in an Austin cemetery.

Lance Richardson: $60,000
Title/Description: A Biography of the American Writer and Naturalist Peter Matthiessen

College Station
Texas A&M University: $198,289
Title: Toward a People’s History of Landscape: Black and Indigenous Histories of the Nation’s Capital
Description: A three-week, residential institute for 25 college and university faculty on social and landscape history in Washington, D.C., focusing on African American and Indigenous contributions.

University of North Texas: $208,888
Title: Lone Star Ink: Texas NDNP 2021
Description: Digitization of 100,000 pages of Texas newspapers dating from 1887 to 1939, as part of the state’s participation in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).

Farmers Branch
City of Farmers Branch: $7,500
Title: Keenan Cemetery Assessment
Description: A preservation assessment of a Texas state historical site, the Keenan Cemetery. Established in 1843, the cemetery is the burial place for many pioneer families, as well as veterans ranging from the War of 1812 to Vietnam. The assessment would result in guidance for the preservation of each grave, facilitating research and related educational and public programming initiatives about the lives of those buried there.

University of Houston System: $249,998
Title: Democratizing Politics: Mapping the Stories and Significance of the 1977 National Women’s Conference
Description: Preparation of an open-access website on the legislative, political, and social impact of the 1977 National Women’s Conference.

Prairie View
Prairie View A&M University: $15,000
Title: Preserving Our History through Assessment
Description: A preservation site assessment for the archives of Prairie View A&M University. The archive holds a number of distinctive collections, including over 1,000 rare books. Collection highlights include information on African American bibliophiles from the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the Blacks in the Military Collection documenting the contributions of African Americans to military history.

San Antonio
Witte Museum: $75,000
Title: Reinterpreting Texas at the Witte Museum, Where Nature, Science and Culture Meet
Description: Planning for a reinterpretation of the museum’s permanent exhibition on the history of Texas.