Humanities Indicators
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Public Life  >  Other Humanities Programs and Institutions for the Public
State Humanities Council Programs
(Updated November 2015)

Through their programs and grants, the nation’s 56 state humanities councils seek to involve the general public in the humanities. The councils are funded in part by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Humanities. They also receive funding from private donations, foundations, corporations, and, in some cases, state governments. (For more on Council funding sources and levels, see “State Humanities Council Revenues.”)

Findings and Trends

  • The councils use their resources to engage the public in the humanities in a wide variety of ways, ranging from the production of local festivals to the support of television programming (Indicator V-12). From 2005 to 2013, support for discussion groups and technology became nearly ubiquitous among the Councils, while the numbers of Councils supporting TV, literacy, and collegiate programs declined substantially.
  • Some council-supported programs have proved to be particularly popular over the years in part because they can be adapted to many settings and locations—from urban centers to small rural towns. These programs include reading and discussion groups, lecture/discussion programs, and traveling exhibits. The councils’ priorities also include providing resources to teachers, supporting family literacy, and fostering an appreciation of local history. To accomplish their goals, the councils employ a variety of media. While almost all councils generate printed matter, a substantial majority also rely on radio, TV, film, and the Internet in an effort to reach a broad swath of the American public.
V-12: Percentage of State Humanities Councils Conducting Programs of Various Kinds, 2005 and 2013

* Institutes, enrichment programs, and curricula.
** Educational gatherings, often held outdoors, featuring lecturers and entertainers. Modern Chautauqua programs, modeled after a popular educational movement that began in the late-19th century, are designed to foster both appreciation of the nation’s history and civic dialog around key issues of the day.

Source: National Endowment for the Humanities, Federal-State Partnership Division. Data for 2005 provided at the request of the Humanities Indicators; 2013 data available at (viewed on November 2, 2015).

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