Our 50th anniversary programming series kicked off January 13 with a virtual conversation on “Engaging the Public and Shaping Civic Life,” featuring Stan Katz. Katz, a long-time NJCH Board Member, National Humanities Medal recipient, Princeton professor, and former president of the American Council of Learned Societies, speaking with current Board Vice Chair and TCNJ history professor Christopher Fisher about democracy, the public humanities, and the work of the state councils.
Fundraising was a focus, raising support for the newly announced annual Stanley Katz Prize for Excellence in Public Humanities. The Katz Prize honors the most impactful work in the public humanities taking place around the state of New Jersey, and does so because of the support of over 85 donors.
(Keep scrolling to see the winning project revealed later in the year.)
In recognition of Women’s History Month, we hosted "Working in Government: Views from NJ Women," featuring four remarkable women working in the state legislature, on the Governor’s cabinet, and as chief-of-staff to one of New Jersey’s representatives in Congress. Their reflections on life in politics and the role of women in that space are worth watching if you missed the program when it aired live.
The NJCH-sponsored Museum on Main Street “Voices and Votes” tour across the state began in April at one of our wonderful community college partners’ campuses—Rowan College of Burlington County. Congressman Andy Kim paid a visit to the exhibit and met with students volunteering as docents just after it arrived.
May found NJCH’s Spring Community History cohort hard at work. Five organizations participated in that cohort, building public history skills together and piloting projects on community-engaged history within their organizations and neighborhoods. The results of their work were presented in October at a showcase.
By summertime, NJCH was working with wonderful partners at The New School’s Journalism + Design, the Community Foundation of South Jersey, and in six communities across South Jersey on the Mellon-funded Democracy and the Informed Citizen program, training community scribes to engage their communities in the stories that they themselves care about.
As the rest of New Jersey was sweltering in July, we were sending out Story Box kits in English and Spanish to locations across New Jersey. Those boxes, made to look a little bit like ballot boxes, were accompanied by a set of physical cards on which individuals could share thoughts and stories in response to one of four questions about the state of our democracy. The results make up a tapestry of New Jerseyans’ concerns, memories, and hopes for our state.
In August we screened the third in our summer film series, which featured Rust (in June), Blacked Out (July), Kea’s Ark (August). For the series, we provided free access to all three NJCH-funded films, each followed by a discussion with the filmmaker. For Kea’s Ark, producer Susan Wallner was joined in conversation by Princeton professor and filmmaker Purcell Carson. We were pleased to bring these important films to audiences throughout New Jersey, and we were thrilled when the story behind Kea's Ark was later featured in Humanities Magazine, the official magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
As children across the state went back to school and temperatures started to fall, NJCH spent September preparing for our 50th Anniversary Gala. The Gala was held at Morven Museum and Gardens in Princeton, NJ on September 29, and featured poet Evie Shockley, Stan Katz, and the winner of the inaugural Katz Prize, Anita Bakshi, and her collaborators, among them Chief Vincent Mann of the Ramapough Lunaape Nation Turtle Clan. The evening sparkled with the enthusiasm and generosity of humanities supporters from across the state.
To celebrate National Arts & Humanities Month in October, NJCH used our social media platforms to highlight the amazing work being done by our fellow state and territorial humanities councils across the United States. If you don’t follow us on Twitter or Facebook, you might want to, and then scroll back up to our October posts. The diversity and creativity of initiatives taking place across this strikingly vast and disparate country are inspiring!
We were privileged to be able to attend the National Humanities Conference in Los Angeles. Co-sponsored by the The Federation of State Humanities Councils and the National Humanities Alliance, the conference brought together representatives from colleges, universities, state humanities councils, cultural institutions, and other community-based organizations to explore approaches to deepening the public’s engagement with the humanities.
In late 2022, NJCH introduced our Resource Roundup, a monthly email newsletter for the NJ Humanities community with helpful information, including notifications of funding, professional development events, meetings, and conferences from both NJCH and the larger nonprofit community. The effort aligns strongly with our strategic plan goal to foster collaboration and resource sharing among humanities organizations to strengthen and advance common goals.