The South End Historical Society has been awarded a $40,000 grant from the American Historical Association’s Grants to Sustain and Advance the Work of Historical Organizations Program, which provides relief to institutions adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This opportunity was made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
“The South End Historical Society is delighted and grateful to receive this substantial support and recognition for its ongoing project to document and understand the recent history of the neighborhood,” said Paul M. Wright, Society Board member and coordinator of the project. “It will build on a successful 2018-2019 pilot project focusing on the South End’s innovative Bancroft School, which is archived at the University of Massachusetts Boston, a partner in the project.”
The South End, Boston, Oral History Project is an ongoing effort to capture the oral history of Boston’s historic South End during a period of rapid social and cultural change, often characterized as “gentrification,” from the l960s through 1980s. The South End is the largest extant area of Victorian rowhousing in the country. Constructed originally as middle-class housing it has over the past 170 years welcomed successive “waves” of racial, ethnic, social, and economic groups. This study, covering the dynamic latter part of the twentieth century, will include those displaced as well as “newcomers.” AHA-NEH funding will support community outreach and publicity, interviewer training, interview recording equipment, transcriptions, archiving, and community reports and followup. All of which, including fundraising, has been delayed and frustrated by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
The South End Historical Society is one of fifty grant recipients (and one of only two in Massachusetts), which include site-based organizations, membership associations, and history departments at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Awardees will implement short-term projects that explore new ideas or build on experiments initiated during the pandemic— from online programming or publications to using new technologies or expanding audiences and accessibility.
“The past two years have been challenging for small history organizations,” said James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association. “Our awardees have made compelling cases for their status as essential resources, making vital contributions to public culture. The American Historical Association (AHA) is pleased to provide funding for our colleagues to promote historical work, historical thinking, and the presence of history in public life.”
“NEH is grateful to the American Historical Association for administering American Rescue Plan funding to help history organizations around the country recover from the pandemic,” said NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe (Navajo). “Small museums, historical societies, college history departments, historic sites, and community archives are essential to keeping and telling America’s story. These ARP awards will allow these institutions to develop new programs and resources that will expand access to this important history.”
About the South End Historical Society: Founded in 1966 by interested citizens who recognized the significant architectural quality and rich cultural and social history of the South End, the Society engages in historical research, collects and preserves data and real and personal property that may have value for the future, encourages historical research, protects and promotes interest in historical buildings and social and cultural groups, conducts educational and other events, through outreach, advocacy, intervention, publications, and special projects. To learn more about the South End Historical Society please visit: https://www.southendhistoricalsociety.org/