CCAHA has launched a rural stewardship program with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
At the end of 2016, CCAHA was awarded $393,965 to support its preservation field services program in 2017 and 2018. A significant component of this grant is a rural collections stewardship program. Building upon past success in education and network-building, CCAHA will lead a set of ambitious new strategies to serve underserved regions of the country, adapting successful service models to assist collecting institutions along the Eastern Gulf Coast and in Appalachia.
The Eastern Gulf Coast (Alabama, the Florida panhandle, and Mississippi) and Appalachia (Eastern Kentucky, Southeastern Ohio, and West Virginia) were selected through consultation with the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) as areas that have limited access to conservators or other preservation expertise. With NEH funding support, CCAHA will adapt a model program it developed in the Philadelphia region to lead Stewardship Programs in the underserved and rural regions of the Eastern Gulf Coast and Appalachia. This new outreach model will combine in-person educational and networking opportunities, webinars, targeted on-site consultation, phone consultation, and a final conference to catalyze collections care activities in the regions while encouraging the development of a community infrastructure that will be sustainable. The ultimate goal of the regional programs will be to link together a cohort of preservation partners to establish a long-term network for on-the-ground regional support.
The Stewardship Programs will have a goal of creating working communities of practice among small organizations facing related challenges. CCAHA will work closely with regional partners to ensure that an equivalent range of programming can be maintained by the regional partners at the end of the two-year period.
While the targeted areas are underserved in some ways, CCAHA has succeeded in identifying strong regional partners—in addition to an overall partnership with AASLH—for the initiative in each of the regions to support the successful implementation of the programs. These partners will include the Kentucky Historical Society, Ohio History Connection, the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, the Alabama Department of Archives and History, the Florida Association of Museums, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the Southeast Museums Conference.
NEH was founded in 1965 as an independent federal agency. It funds education, research, and public programs in the humanities. The grants are awarded in many categories, including Challenge Grants, Preservation Education and Training grants, and Digital Projects for the Public grants.