Community History participants work closely with their communities to learn about and share untold stories from those communities. Participants receive instruction on public history practices, develop projects in a collaborative environment, and receive funding from NJCH to launch projects in their communities.
WHAT IS PUBLIC HISTORY?
The National Council on Public History defines public history as “the many and diverse ways in which history is put to work in the world.” Balancing rigorous historical research with reflections and contributions from community members, public history seeks to make history a collaborative process and diversify the voices that are present in our historical narratives.
The Community History program will allow organizations to learn the ins and outs of public history while developing their own projects with their local communities.
Community History participants will work closely with their communities to investigate and share untold and underrepresented stories from those communities. Some examples of questions you might be considering:
- How can learning about our community’s history help us to understand our present circumstances and look to the future?
- How can our organization engage with community histories and share these histories with our community members?
- How can we preserve, interpret, and amplify our local histories?
- How can we broaden traditional narratives about our local histories to reflect our whole community’s experiences and values?
The Community History program consists of learning sessions attended by all participants, individual meetings with program staff, and community-based project work. During the program, participating organizations will build a new history project with support from the cohort and funding from NJCH.
Learning sessions will include instruction on public history practices, presentations by practitioners currently doing work in the field, and time to workshop each organization's project in a collaborative environment. Full cohort learning sessions will take place virtually.
Between sessions, each program participant will work closely with community members back home to develop a history project. Projects might take many different forms, from public gatherings to digital collections. Thinking about what form the project takes will be an important part of the process for all participants. At the end of the program, all participants will share their projects in a public showcase.
Project work is supplemented by one-on-one meetings with the Community History program staff, who may also connect participants to mentors who have done similar work.
Important: public history projects already in process are not appropriate for the Community History program, as a central part of the program is building a project from scratch. Organizations seeking funding for existing public history projects may want to apply for an NJCH grant.
Each organization accepted into the Community History program is required to identify 2 or 3 representatives that are able to participate in program activities, including learning sessions, team meetings, project work, and homework. Those participants will also act as primary community contacts during project development.
Community History’s cohort-based environment works best when all organizations are active, collaborative, and consistent participants in the program. Participants can expect to invest a significant amount of time in this program each week. We hope that the skill-building work of these cohorts will translate into long-term benefits for organizations that wish to incorporate public history into their broader programming.
Each participating organization in the Community History program will receive an award of $4,000 to defray the cost of participation in the program and to support the development of their project.
Project plans and budgets are developed during the program and must be approved by NJCH prior to beginning work. Participants will receive more detailed information about eligible and ineligible expenditures during the program. It is reasonable—encouraged!—for participating organizations to use a significant portion of the funding for personnel costs.
There is no required match for this funding. However, participants will be asked to report on any match funding that was devoted to this project as part of the required final report that must be submitted at the end of the program.
Nonprofit organizations, state and local government, and unincorporated community groups are eligible to apply to be part of Community History.
Organizations or groups that are interested in incorporating history into their programming but have little experience and no professional historians on staff to do so are ideal applicants. History-missioned organizations that are primarily volunteer-run, with little or no professional staff, are also welcome to apply.
- For-profit organizations or businesses.
- Organizations who participated in a past Community History cohort.
Applicants must commit to participating in all program activities, including identifying 2 or 3 people to attend learning sessions and meetings. The representatives from each organization may include paid staff, volunteers, and/or community members, and funding provided through the program may be used to defray the cost of participation. Applicants must be willing to work collaboratively with community members to develop a public history project during the Community History Program.
The most competitive applicants will demonstrate strong personal or organizational ties to the community whose history they hope to explore and a commitment to raising untold stories or underrepresented points of view, leading to a fuller and more nuanced understanding of the past. They will have identified potential stories or themes but will not yet have a specific project in process.
Community History is a process-driven program that combines instruction in public history with development of a community-engaged history project. Those who wish to learn more about how public history works and have either not begun or are very early in the process of developing a project would be a good fit for this program.
Organizations that do not need public history instruction, are unable to attend program activities like learning sessions and meetings, or who are unwilling to follow the program’s process for developing projects should not apply for the Community History program. NJCH grants can support community history work outside of this program.
The 2023 Community History cohort will run from February through December 2023. Organizations who are interested in applying to be part of the cohort should review the schedule below to ensure that they are able to participate in all program activities, then follow the Apply link at the bottom of this page to submit an application. Program activities will include both in-person and virtual sessions, provided it is safe and comfortable for the cohort to meet in person.
Applications for the fall cohort will be reviewed on a rolling basis. The final deadline to apply is January 13, 2023. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance to the program by January 20.
The Community History program will kick off with two day-long, in-person workshops in February and March. Monthly learning sessions for the rest of the program will take place virtually via Zoom during weekday late afternoons (two hours between 3 and 6 pm; exact dates and times TBD based on participant availability). These workshops and learning sessions are required for all participants. Organizations will also have regular one-on-one meetings with program staff.
We strongly recommend that participants reserve two hours per week for Community History work, even in weeks where there is not an official learning session or other meeting, to ensure that participants have allocated enough time to get program work done.
The exact syllabus for the intensive and learning sessions will be finalized based on particular needs and interests of participating organizations, but will include the following topics:
- Public history concepts and program models.
- Community outreach strategies.
- Developing project plans and budgets.
- Goal setting and evaluation.
- Marketing and publicity.
CH23 Cohort - Important Dates
- January 13: Application deadline
- January 20: Award notification
- February 18 or 20: Full-Day Workshop 1 (full cohort, in person)
- March 18 or 25: Full-Day Workshop 2 (full cohort, in person)
- April: Project development (one-on-one sessions, no cohort session)
- Week of May 15: Learning session (full cohort, virtual)
- Week of June 12: Learning session (full cohort, virtual)
- Week of July 10 or 17: Learning session (full cohort, virtual)
- Week of August 14: Learning session (full cohort, virtual)
- Week of September 11 or 18: Learning session (full cohort, virtual)
- Early October: Showcase prep session (full cohort, virtual or in person)
- Late October: Showcase
- December 15: Final reports due
If you have any questions about your eligibility for this program or about program components, please don’t hesitate to contact Gigi Naglak, Director of Programs, at email@example.com or 609-695-4409.
NJCH launched Community History in 2021. Since its inception, 20 participating organizations have created a wide range of public history projects and connected in new ways with their communities.
CH21 (June-December 2021)
Clinton Hill Community Action (Newark)
Community Partnership for Egg Harbor Township Schools, Inc. (Egg Harbor Township)
East Trenton Collaborative (Trenton)
Enslaved African Memorial Committee (Teaneck)
Old Mill Hill Society (Trenton)
Piscataway Public Library (Piscataway)
Raices Cultural Center (New Brunswick)
Salvation and Social Justice (Woodbury and Trenton)
1719 William Trent House Museum (Trenton)
The first Community History Showcase took place on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. Click here to view a recording of the showcase.
CH22 – spring cohort (March-October 2022)
Greater Cape May Historical Society (Cape May)
Mahwah Museum (Mahwah)
New Jersey Orators, Inc. (Bridgewater)
TRUE Mentors, Inc. (Hoboken)
This cohort’s Community History Showcase took place on October 26, 2022. Click here to view a recording of the showcase.
CH22 – fall cohort (October 2022-April 2023)
Appel Farm Arts & Music Center (Elmer)
Arts Guild New Jersey (Burlington)
Historic Paulus Hook Association (Jersey City)
The FAF Coalition (Woodbury)
Wanaque Public Library (Wanaque)
Willingboro Community Development Corporation (Willingboro)
This cohort is in the process of developing their projects and looks forward to sharing them at their showcase in late April 2023. Stay tuned for more information!
Past Community History Showcases
At NJCH, we believe that everyone should have access to humanities programming. Based on your organization and desired topics/formats, we offer programs—often subsidized by our federal and corporate funding—so that you can bring high quality humanities programs to your audiences.