Archives of Appalachia, Reece Museum receive NEH SHARP funding
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 8, 2021) – East Tennessee State University’s Center of Excellence for Appalachian Studies and Services announces that the Archives of Appalachia and B. Carroll Reece Museum have received $225,000 in funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The funding will support a project to enhance online access to collections and artifacts that document diverse voices in southern Appalachia.
The grant will be used to hire three professional staff members and to purchase equipment to digitize and provide free online access to thousands of rare or unique materials. Over the next 15 months, the Reece and Archives will work to provide online access to such items as artifacts featured in the “Suffrage in Southern Appalachia” exhibition, works made by Sammie L. Nicely and other African American artists, works from the “Local Art in the Age of the 2020 Global Pandemic” Special Collection, and manuscript collections related to the history of African Americans and women in southern Appalachia.
The NEH awarded the grant as a part of its program Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (SHARP). According to the NEH, the program is designed to “allow cultural and educational nonprofits to retain and rehire staff, maintain operations essential to their missions, and rebuild programs and projects that have been disrupted by the pandemic. The humanities activities they support include education, preservation and access, public programming, digital humanities, and scholarly research.” ETSU is one of around 90 colleges and universities across the country to receive a grant.
Dr. Jeremy Smith, director of the Archives, and Rebecca Proffitt, interim director of the Reece, will serve as co-directors of the grant project.
“This grant will provide us with the resources to complete a number of projects that were delayed due to the pandemic, and it will position us to provide lasting digital access to collections that highlight the vibrant and diverse people who have made southern Appalachia what it is today,” Smith said. “It is deeply rewarding to have an institution as respected as the NEH recognize the value of the work we do and the value of the collections we hold. We at the Archives and the Reece are forever grateful for their support.”
The Reece Museum was formally dedicated in 1965, though the original collection of artifacts dates back to 1928. One of the first museums in Tennessee to be accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Reece currently houses over 22,000 artifacts that represent a rich and varied field of material culture, with a focus on local history and visual art. The Reece hosts an average of 13 rotating exhibitions each year in its three gallery spaces.
The Archives of Appalachia, founded in 1978, is one of the world’s leading repositories for documenting the history and culture of the southern Appalachian region. It holds nearly two miles of rare research materials, dating from the 18th century to the present, that provide nuanced insight into the diverse people and institutions that have made southern Appalachia what it is today.
“We are grateful to the NEH for its support, and to Dr. Smith and Ms. Proffitt for their outstanding work to secure this major grant,” said Dr. Ron Roach, Center director. “This award will greatly enhance our efforts toward digital preservation and access to our world-class collections, which are such an important part of our mission to tell the story of the region.”
The ETSU Center of Excellence for Appalachian Studies and Services promotes a deeper understanding of the Appalachian region and serves the region through research, education, preservation and community engagement programs. Through the Department of Appalachian Studies, the Center also participates in ETSU's renowned Bluegrass, Old-Time and Roots Music Studies program, as well as the department’s graduate degrees in Appalachian Studies and in Heritage Interpretation and Museum Studies; its Appalachian, Scottish and Irish Studies program with a study abroad experience; and several undergraduate minors.
More information on the NEH grant is available at neh.gov/news/neh-awards-878-million-arp-relief-funding.