Library of America has been awarded a $550,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in partial support of World War I and America, a major initiative involving public programs in all fifty states, a travelling exhibition, a multimedia website, and the publication of an unprecedented anthology of writings by Americans who experienced World War I. The grant to Library of America is the largest awarded by the NEH this year to a museum, library, or cultural organization.
Organized to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the nation’s entry into the war in 1917, the project will bring members of the veteran community together with the general public in libraries and museums around the country to explore the transformative impact of the First World War by reading, discussing, and sharing insights into the writings of Americans who experienced it firsthand. Providing scholar-moderated opportunities for those who served in more recent conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan to bring their experiences to bear on historical events and texts, the project will illuminate for a wide audience the lasting legacies of World War I, and the similarities and differences between past and present.
The grant also enables Library of America to develop and make widely and permanently available World War I and America: Told by the Americans Who Lived It, an annotated narrative collection. Edited by Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer A. Scott Berg in collaboration with an advisory board comprised of distinguished World War I scholars Jennifer D. Keene, Edward G. Lengel, Michael S. Neiberg, and Chad Williams, this important new anthology will encourage exploration and discussion of the war’s meanings and resonances long after the centennial is over.
World War I and America brings together the editorial and marketing resources of Library of America (“the most important book publishing project in our nation’s history” — Newsweek) with the public programming expertise of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the scholarly and organizational resources of the National World War I Museum and Memorial and the World War I Centennial Commission, and the national outreach into the veteran community of the Wounded Warrior Project, Warrior Writers, Voices from War, and Words After War.
The grant will fund programming to be undertaken in 120 libraries located in all 50 states beginning in January 2017, and extending throughout the centennial year and beyond. Fifty of the participating libraries will also host a companion traveling exhibition of documents, images, and interpretive texts prepared by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Libraries will apply to participate in the program at the project website, WWIAmerica.org, starting June 1, 2016. The site will feature multimedia resources for public programming and individual discovery, including video commentary by scholars and veteran-writers, a free downloadable reader of historical texts, an interactive timeline of events, and an exhibition of documents and images from World War I.
Signature live events are planned for Kansas City, Missouri, at the National World War I Museum and Memorial (April 6, 2017), and New York City, the latter in partnership with the NYU Cultures of War and the Post-War Research Group and the veteran-writers organization Words After War.
Library of America, a nonprofit organization, champions the nation’s cultural heritage by publishing America’s greatest writing in authoritative new editions and providing resources for readers to explore this rich, living legacy.
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