November 23, 2021

Building Humanities Collections for the Community

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded Lewis & Clark $331,000 in American Rescue Plan funds for Building Humanities Collections for the Community. These funds will help rebuild and reinvigorate Watzek Library’s Special Collections program, which was interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded Lewis & Clark $331,000 in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds for Building Humanities Collections for the Community. These competitive NEH grant awards are intended to provide emergency relief to institutions and organizations working in the humanities that have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the leadership of Hannah Crummé, project director and head of Watzek Library Special Collections and college archivist, this project will help rebuild the Special Collections program of Watzek Library and reinvigorate related curriculum.

Crummé will head a project team that includes E.J. Carter, research and instruction librarian, and Jeremy McWilliams, head of digital services, as well as an associate archivist, a project manager, and five student workers. During 2021–22, they will re-engage with students, faculty, and community members through teaching and exhibits; process key collections to make them widely accessible; and continue developing the Vietnamese Portland community archive.

More specifically, the project team will be able to complete projects that were interrupted due to the pandemic. This includes the processing of materials documenting the Quinault Indian Nation’s negotiations with the federal government concerning timber rights, the Portland YWCA’s role in the civil rights movement, and the papers and collections of Kim Stafford, Oregon’s recent poet laureate and founding director of Lewis & Clark’s Northwest Writing Institute. With NEH support, library staff will be able to process these collections to appropriate archival standards, ensuring their preservation and making finding aids for them.

This project also includes the development of three exhibits in 2021–22: two on campus, the Golden Cockerel Press materials and Vietnamese Portland, and one traveling exhibit about the history of Vietnamese and Vietnamese-Americans in Portland. Physical materials will be accompanied by digital exhibitions that make these resources accessible to those in Portland and around the world.

“Our goal is to develop teaching collections that speak to Portland and the L&C community,” says Crummé. 

Crummé and her colleagues at Watzek have been remarkably successful in securing external support for their work on campus and in the community. Most recently, this includes three years of support from the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) for the Vietnamese Portland Project and a $10,000 grant from the Council of Independent Colleges.