Humanities Indicators
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What is a “Humanities Organization”?

The term humanities organization, as used by Humanities Indicators (HI), refers to an organization that engages or promotes others’ engagement in the humanities disciplines or the public humanities. (For a list of these disciplines as well as a description of the types of activities that fall under the heading of “public humanities,” see the Statement on the Scope of the “Humanities” for the Purposes of the Humanities Indicators). Humanities organizations can be of the various types described below. Elementary and secondary schools, whether public or private, are not treated by the HI as humanities organizations, with the understanding that such institutions are involved in developing key humanistic competencies in young people (as explored in the topics under “K—12 Education”). The HI’s classification of humanities organizations is loosely based on the National Center for Charitable Statistics’ National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities.

Humanities Museum Organizations

The HI defines humanities museum organizations as those that acquire, preserve, research, exhibit, and provide for the educational use of works of art or objects/artifacts that are related to the study of humanities content. Such organizations include natural history museums and topical/interdisciplinary museums that have a non-negligible humanities focus (most often the humanities discipline represented is history and/or archeology). Included in this category are organizations that are not museums but that support or advocate for museums or museum professionals.

Museums that are also archives are treated as museum organizations for the purpose of this analysis.

History Organizations

History organizations include historical societies and their support organizations, historical preservation groups and their support organizations, history-oriented professional societies and associations, and other organizations with a historical focus.

History museums are treated as museums (see previous) for the purpose of this analysis. Libraries with a history focus are grouped with libraries and archives (see next) for the purpose of this analysis, as are archives.

Library Archives Organizations

These organizations include operating libraries and archives (excluding those that are purely science- and medicine-focused), as well as organizations that support or advocate for libraries and archives, and the professionals that staff them.

Combination museum-libraries are treated as museums for the purpose of this analysis.

English Literacy Organizations

This category includes any organization whose primary purpose is to foster proficiency in oral and written English among youth and/or adults. Key types of organization in this category are those promoting literacy (e.g., Reading is Fundamental), offering remedial reading programming for children and adults, or providing ESL instruction to adults. Includes associations of adult literacy teachers and English teachers at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels.

Excludes elementary and secondary schools, and programs offering tutoring in a range of subjects.

Cultural Ethnic Awareness

This category includes organizations dedicated to the study, preservation, and/or dissemination of the history and culture of ethnic groups.

Excludes organizations whose primary mission is the social or economic advancement of these groups.

Libraries with an ethnic focus are grouped with libraries and archives (see above) for the purpose of this analysis.

Museums with an ethnic focus are grouped with museums (see above) for the purpose of this analysis.

Writing, Book, Literature Organizations

This category includes or organizations that:

  • Teach or in other ways foster the practice of creative writing (including poetry); or
  • Promote the study or appreciation of books and/or literature.

Other Humanities Organizations

This category includes, but is not limited to:

  • Local, regional, and state humanities (or “arts and humanities”) councils, as well as their affiliated foundations and advocacy organizations;
  • Archeology organizations;
  • Research institutes and institutions in humanities disciplines not addressed by the categories above (e.g., philosophy); and
  • Professional/scholarly societies and associations for multiple humanities disciplines or for disciplines not addressed by the categories above.

The definition of humanities organizations employed for this indicator differs from that used by the Foundation Center in compiling the data that are the basis of the indicators under “Foundation Funding” in two important respects: (1) the definition used for the purposes this indicator includes all art museums (only ethnic and folk art museums are treated in the Foundation Center report); and (2) this definition excludes social science organizations (the Foundation Center includes humanities-oriented social science activities in its analysis).