NEH grants ALA $1.5 million for ‘Latino Americans: 500 Years of History’ programming initiative

For Immediate Release
Mon, 12/15/2014


Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office


CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) has been granted nearly $1.5 million by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in support of Latino Americans: 500 Years of History, a public programming initiative for libraries and other cultural institutions.

Latino Americans: 500 Years of History will support the American public’s exploration of the rich and varied history and experiences of Latinos, who have helped shape the United States over the last five centuries and who have become, with more than 50 million people, the country’s largest minority group.

The funding received by ALA will be passed on to libraries, humanities councils and other nonprofit organizations to hold public film screenings, discussion groups, oral history initiatives, local history exhibitions, multi-media projects, performances and other programs about Latino history and culture. The cornerstone of the project is the six-part, NEH-supported documentary film "Latino Americans," created for PBS by the WETA public television station.

“Lifelong learning is a critical part of what libraries offer, and ALA is committed to helping libraries fulfill that mission through quality programs like Latino Americans: 500 Years of History,” said Keith Michael Fiels, ALA’s executive director. “I am so pleased that, thanks to NEH’s support, this initiative will reach hundreds of thousands of Americans.”

Additional information and application guidelines for Latino Americans: 500 Years of History will be released in February 2015. The grant will be administered by ALA’s Public Programs Office.

At $1,484,032, ALA’s grant was the largest of 233 humanities grants, totaling $17.9 million, announced by NEH on Dec. 9. Other funded projects include research for a book on a Hollywood-based Jewish spy ring that infiltrated and sabotaged Nazi and fascist groups in the U.S. in the 1930s and ’40s; preservation of the personal papers of Thurgood Marshall and Langston Hughes; and production of a documentary on Gertrude Bell, an English woman who played a decisive role in the history of Iraq and the modern Middle East. 

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 58,000 members in academic, public, school, government and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

About ALA’s Public Programs Office

ALA’s Public Programs Office provides leadership, resources, training and networking opportunities that help thousands of librarians nationwide develop and host cultural programs for adult, young adult and family audiences. The mission of the ALA Public Programs Office is to promote cultural programming as an essential part of library service in all types of libraries. Projects include book and film discussion series, literary and cultural programs featuring authors and artists, professional development opportunities and traveling exhibitions. School, public, academic and special libraries nationwide benefit from the office’s programming initiatives.

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at