$52,735 in COVID-19 Related Quick Grants Awarded by Connecticut Humanities
August 19, 2020 • Features & News, Grants

Illustration of Smith's escape from the Autobiography of James L. Smith, 1881

Connecticut Humanities recently awarded $52,735 in COVID-19 related Quick Grants to fifteen (15) humanities organizations in Connecticut.

According to Dr. Jason Mancini, Executive Director, CTH, “these COVID-19 related Quick Grants provide funding to organizations for important projects in our state that connect residents to local history and humanities programming as well as support engagement and understanding through virtual opportunities.”

Regan Miner, Executive Director, Norwich Historical Society, says, “the Norwich Historical Society is thrilled that our Norwich Freedom Trail Distance Learning Materials project was fully funded by CT Humanities. Our project will focus on the remarkable story of James L. Smith, an escaped slave from Virginia.” Smith became a successful Norwich shoemaker, embodying the struggle of those who escaped from slavery to make new lives in the North in the years before the Civil War.

“We want students to better understand the local significance of individuals such as James L. Smith and how his story fits into the larger discussions of African American history in the United States. The history of James L. Smith is multi-faceted and touches upon slavery, racial issues, education, political history, and the concept of achieving the ‘American Dream’ and presents a unique and worthy opportunity of educating students on a powerful and inspirational example of how a former slave came to find a new life in Norwich, CT,” explains Miner.

Sara Champion, President, Ridgefield Historical Society, adds, “we are deeply appreciative to CT Humanities for this grant. In these challenging times, our virtual programming is essential to our mission of preserving Ridgefield history.”

Quick Grants funded this round:

City Lights & Company (Bridgeport, $3,000.00)
Transitioning, Online Bridgeport Arts, Culture and Pride
Funds will be used to produce two online events, Bridgeport Pride and the Bridgeport Art Trail. Running through February 2021, events will include documentation (and archiving) of the opening of the OUTworks art exhibit, a public access TV broadcast, artists’ talk, and video studio tours for the Art Trail weekend.

Hill-Stead Museum (Farmington, $3,000.00)
Closing Night, Sunken Garden Poetry Festival
Closing night of the 2020 Sunken Garden Poetry Festival (9/13/2020) will feature headlining poet and current United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, the first Native American to hold the post. Opening for Ms. Harjo will be the winner of the Sunken Garden Prize, an adult poetry contest sponsored by Tupelo Press. The event will feature a writing workshop led by Ms. Harjo, a Poetry Prelude interview of Ms. Harjo, opening and headlining poets’ readings, and a musical interlude and book signings.

Dudley Foundation (Guilford, $1,510.00)
Self-guided interpretive walking tour of the grounds and selected buildings of The Dudley Farm Museum
Funding allows for the creation of a self-guided interpretive walking tour of the grounds and selected buildings of The Dudley Farm Museum. The tour (available ~10/15/2020) will be accessible via the farm’s website, as well as in printable form, allowing the public to explore the museum grounds despite COVID-19 restrictions.

Charter Oak Temple Restoration Association (Hartford, $4,999.00)
BOTS Center for Creative Learning Online Course Offerings
The BOTS Center for Creative Learning provides free, arts-based, humanities-rich classes for adult members of the homeless community. Funding allows for transitioning classes online, through Zoom, with call-in availability for those without access to a computer or smartphone. Classes will be held twice each week in August, September, October, November, and three weeks in December.

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center (Hartford, $4,999.00)
Sewing and Learning: Isabella Beecher Hooker and the Women’s Suffrage Movement
The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center invites the public to recreate a nineteenth-century sewing circle via an online video platform. This virtual circle will make a replica of an American suffrage cap like one in the Stowe Center’s collection attributed to Isabella Beecher Hooker. Local costume historian, Rebecca Bayreuther Donohue, will lead the making process, and historian, Dr. Shirley Wajda, will facilitate a discussion on the context of women’s use of craft in social protest movements. Programs taking place in  October and November.

Capital Community College Foundation (Hartford, $3,750.00)
Hartford Studies Public Lecture Series & Tour
Building upon Capital Community College’s signature Hartford Heritage Project, this free series underscores the importance of Hartford’s history and rich cultural resources. In this third season (September – October), the lectures will be live-streamed in an interactive virtual format to support pandemic social-distancing measures. A collaborative joint venture between the college and the Facebook community Historic Hartford, the series aims to increase awareness of the city’s heritage and inspire civic engagement.

Litchfield Historical Society (Litchfield, $4,050.00)
The Law School Goes Virtual: Creating an Online Experience for the Tapping Reeve House & Litchfield Law School
Funding is used to create a virtual exhibit of “The Noblest Study: The Legacy of America’s First Law School,” which interprets the nationally significant history of the Litchfield Law School and Litchfield Female Academy across five galleries in the historic Tapping Reeve House. With galleries closed due to ongoing health concerns, an immersive, virtual, 3-D exhibit experience will allow the sharing of this important history in a new and exciting way.

Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc. (Mystic, $1,572.00)
Online Programming for “Sailor Made: Folk Art of the Sea”
Funds will be used for an online series related to the upcoming exhibit, “Sailor Made: Folk Art of the Sea,” which brings rarely seen hand-crafted artifacts from the museum’s collection to light. Due to COVID-19, online programming in September and October will be offered to augment (and in some cases, stand-in for) in-person visitation. This humanities-focused programming will encourage participants to dig deeper into the stories of the objects and their creators and make connections to their own lives.

Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame (New Haven, $4,040.00)
Suffragist Tribute Film 2020
Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame & Karyl Evans, filmmaker, will be producing an eight-minute tribute film honoring suffragists from Connecticut. Premiering at our first “virtual” Induction Ceremony this fall, it will mainly be used throughout the year as a companion to our curriculum, Votes for Women, in our educational programs for children & adults across the state.

New London Landmarks (New London, $3,320.00)
New London Speaks: Voices from a Pandemic
New London Landmarks will collect, digitally exhibit, and store images, writings, and short videos documenting the effect of COVID-19 in New London. The project will include extensive community outreach to ensure that submissions reflect the diverse experiences of our community. Full digital exhibit to launch in November and accessible online indefinitely.

Norwich Historical Society (Norwich, $2,450.00)
Norwich Freedom Trail Distance Learning Materials
In response to the ongoing global pandemic, the Norwich Historical Society, in partnership with the Norwich Public Schools system, will create two online distance learning lesson plans featuring content from the recently completed Norwich Freedom Trail. The lessons for Norwich eighth grade students will include a high-quality professional video with accompanying graphic organizers and handouts.

Keeler Tavern Preservation Society, Inc. (Ridgefield, $4,950.00)
Videographer for Digital Platform during COVID-19
Funding will allow for the filming of three projects: 1) the play SISTERS, dealing with issues of race and privilege as well as the ownership and economics of enslaved people; 2) the award-winning #HandsOnHistory exhibition and 3) various school programs for the digital classroom. Programs will be made digitally available as they are created through late summer into the fall of 2020.

Ridgefield Historical Society (Ridgefield, $4,320.00)
Responding to COVID-19 with Virtual Programming
The society has been reworking existing educational programming to make it available on our website and other platforms, in addition to planning new virtual content to encourage engagement and participation by all ages. Funding will be used to implement a series of thematic offerings that draw from diverse sources, including recorded and live-streamed programs via Zoom and Facebook. Content is sourced from archives, the work of local historians, and in partnership with other organizations.

Connecticut Explored Inc. (West Hartford, $2,025.00)
Expand Digital Content in Support of Museums, Historical Societies, and Schools During COVID19
Funding will be used to move existing content online to support broad access to high-quality humanities content in times of social distancing, CTExplored will add back-catalog content to ctexplored.org from issues published between 2002 and 2012 with priority given to stories that support museums, historical societies, and educators, and to develop up to ten landing pages that aggregate CTExplored content by topic as a way to better serve public history audiences.

Eastern Connecticut State University Foundation, Inc. (Willimantic, $4,750.00)
Keynote Presentation Luis Alberto Urrea – NEA Big Read
Funding will support a virtual keynote presentation and Q&A by nationally known bilingual writer Luis Alberto Urrea in October. Urrea will speak about the lasting impact of his book Into the Beautiful North (2010) in the context of today’s escalating tensions on the border between Mexico and the United States. As part of Eastern’s Big Read project (October and November), Urrea will address our local community, including Eastern’s First Year Program, DACA students, and high school students by invitation of Hispanic Alliance of Southern CT.

For more information on CTH’s grant lines visit CTHumanities.org/grants.

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