Civil War Sesquicentennial National Traveling Exhibition: “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War”

RECEIPT DEADLINE: May 5, 2011 (for projects beginning September 2011)

Date posted: January 5, 2011

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 45.164


Contact the American Library Association (ALA) staff at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045, or You can also contact the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) at 202-606-8337 or Hearing-impaired applicants can contact NEH via TDD at 1-866-372-2930.

I. Program Description

In partnership with the National Constitution Center (NCC) and ALA, NEH is seeking sites to host a traveling panel exhibition, entitled “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War.”

The exhibition will tour throughout the United States from September 2011 through May 2015. Two hundred sites will be selected to host the exhibition for a period of six weeks each. Each site is expected to host public humanities programs related to the exhibition and will be awarded a grant of $750 from ALA, with funding provided by NEH for expenses related to exhibition programming.

To be eligible for this grant program, an institution must have a suitable space in which to display the 1,000-foot traveling exhibition.

Using the U.S. Constitution as its cohesive thread, “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” offers a fresh and innovative perspective on the Civil War that brings into focus the constitutional crises at the heart of this great conflict. The exhibition identifies three crises—the secession of the Southern states, slavery, and wartime civil liberties—and explores how Lincoln sought to meet these political and constitutional challenges.

“Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” is a collaboration between NEH, NCC, and ALA. NCC originally developed this exhibition on a larger scale, and has reformatted it for travel to smaller venues. ALA will administer the tour. The traveling exhibition and tour are funded by a major grant from NEH.

“Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” is supported by NEH’s We the People initiative, whose aim is to stimulate and enhance the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture.

The exhibition

The exhibition encourages visitors to understand the Civil War as a test of the U.S. Constitution, to consider Lincoln’s options through his own eyes, and to reflect on the significance of that great 19th-century conflict for Americans today.

The exhibit presents visitors with

  • provocative questions, along with information that enables visitors to answer them on their own;
  • suggestions for linking the Civil War era with our own; and
  • opportunities to respond to the exhibit from their own perspectives.

Lincoln was one of our most eloquent presidents, and wherever possible, the text of this exhibition is taken from his own words. Exhibit text includes the Gettysburg Address, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Thirteenth Amendment, as well as the Order to Blockade the Southern Ports, which marked the official start of the Civil War.

The traveling exhibition content is organized into six thematic sections, which together tell a story that is both cohesive and chronological.

  1. The Introduction lays out the three critical questions—concerning slavery, secession, and civil liberties—facing the nation in 1860, when Lincoln was elected President with less than 40 percent of the vote.
  2. “Oath of Office” focuses on Lincoln’s inauguration on March 4, 1861, at a time when the Constitution was being challenged and the United States was falling apart. The new President promised that the government would not attack the South if the South did not attack the Union, but he also took a solemn oath to “preserve, protect, and defend” the Constitution.
  3. “Divided” asks the question, “Are we a single nation or a confederacy of sovereign and separate states?” Lincoln believed that his inaugural oath compelled him to preserve the Union, that secession was unconstitutional and undemocratic. The Southern states believed that they were under attack.
  4. “Bound” reflects the nation’s struggle with the problem of slavery, with which it had been vexed since America’s founding. The Constitution left the matter of slavery in the hands of the individual states. But many asked, “How can a country founded on the belief that ‘all men are created equal’ tolerate slavery?”
  5. “Dissent” raises the question: “Must civil liberties give way to save the Union?” In face of the chaos and danger facing Lincoln and the Union, Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus—the constitutional provision that protects citizens of the United States against arbitrary arrests.
  6. “Legacy” focuses on the Gettysburg Address and on the work yet to be done to achieve the ideals of equality, freedom, and democracy articulated in the Constitution and cherished by Lincoln. Acknowledging the shortcomings of his own age, Lincoln challenged future generations of Americans to continue the work of realizing our nation’s highest ideals. Using self-stick notes on an exhibition panel, visitors are invited to answer the question, “Has America lived up to the ideals Lincoln fought for?”

Exhibition Physical Details

The exhibition consists of five separate, free-standing sections. The entire exhibition requires approximately one thousand square feet of space for optimal display. To see sample layouts, packing list and exhibit photos, refer to the
the installation instructions.

Exhibit Dimensions

Exhibit Height: 94 inches

Triad Units (total of 3)

  • Distance from the left tip to the right tip of the curve of the triad units is approximately 8 feet 8 inches
  • Triad units will fit in about a 9 x 9 square foot box
  • Allow approximately 3 to 4 feet between the ends of the triad units to allow for easy accessibility

Curved Panels: (total of 2)

  • Long curved entry panel is 10 feet from left to right
  • Curved exit panel is 8 feet from left to right.

Institutions that apply are strongly encouraged to make one or more computer stations available near the exhibition, so that viewers will have ready access to the “Abraham Lincoln’s Crossroads” educational game and can access websites with additional educational activities for people of all ages. To see the Web-based version of the game, go to

Requirements for host sites

All institutions chosen as hosts for the exhibition are required to do the following:

  1. Sign an agreement with NCC and ALA concerning programming and other project requirements.
  2. Sponsor an opening event for the public. Please note that grant funds may not be used to pay for social events, receptions, entertainment, or alcoholic beverages.
  3. Present a minimum of two programs featuring a lecture and discussion by a scholar in the humanities that focus on exhibition themes (one of these programs may be combined with the opening event). These programs must be free and open to the public. Exhibition sites are encouraged to apply to state humanities councils for additional program funds.
  4. Demonstrate that they have sufficient space to display the exhibition (one thousand square feet in one area of the library or other display area is required), and that they can provide security for the exhibition, i.e., monitor the exhibition at least every half-hour during peak times and every hour at less busy times when the institution is open.
  5. Allow the public to view the exhibition free of charge.
  6. Provide reports, including an exhibition condition report and a final report, to ALA.
  7. Appoint one staff member as the local coordinator of the exhibition. The coordinator is responsible for reviewing online training materials, and for overseeing the set-up and dismantling of the exhibit.
  8. Agree to use designated exhibition credits and/or logos on all publicity materials.

Public programs

Here are a few ideas for public humanities programs:

  • a lecture by a historian, examining Lincoln as commander-in-chief and the problem of civil liberties;
  • a discussion of Lincoln and the U.S. Constitution by a panel of faculty from the departments of political science, African American studies, and history at a local college or university;
  • town hall meetings for public audiences and workshops for high school teachers, addressing the subject of slavery and the Constitution, led by local historians and legal experts;
  • an address at the exhibit opening by the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court on Lincoln, the Constitution, and the Emancipation Proclamation;
  • exhibit opening activities (e.g., a public reading of the Gettysburg Address, music from the Civil War era, remarks about Lincoln and the Constitution by a local judge, and a keynote address by the chair of the department of history at a local college or university on the impact of the Gettysburg Address on the development of democracy and the American legal system);
  • an address at the exhibit opening by the state historian about the role of the state in the Civil War;
  • a presentation by a Lincoln re-enactor at the exhibit opening, discussing Lincoln’s views of slavery, secession and/or civil liberties, with questions from the audience (for a National Directory of Chautauqua Performers, see;
  • a community discussion series, led by experts in history and constitutional law, on the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments to the Constitution as results of the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation;
  • a debate between local high school students about union and secession, moderated by a high school history teacher, and judged by local historians or legal experts;
  • a presentation by historians from two regional colleges or universities, on subjects like these: “Abraham Lincoln and the Decision to End Slavery,” “Fugitive Slaves in California: The American West, the Constitution, and the Coming of the Civil War,” and “President Lincoln and Wartime Government Powers.”

For additional programming and publicity ideas, consult the following source(s):

II. Award Information

Two hundred institutions will be selected to host “Lincoln: the Constitution and the Civil War” between September 2011 and May 2015. Each host site will receive the following:

  1. A $750 grant from ALA, with funding provided by NEH for expenses related to exhibition programming. (Indirect costs may not be charged to the grant.)
  2. The traveling exhibition for a six-week loan period (shipping costs included).
  3. A DVD version of NCC’s award-winning educational game, “Abraham Lincoln’s Crossroads.” See
  4. Exhibition brochures and posters.
  5. A CD containing images for use in publicity and on websites.
  6. Two banners that will travel to each site for display with the exhibition.
  7. Online training materials for project coordinators.
  8. Online site support resources, including press materials, shipping and installation instructions, and suggestions for programming. See
  9. Technical and programming support from the ALA Public Programs Office throughout the tour, including participation in an online discussion list for tour sites.
  10. Reimbursement of costs incurred to repair reasonable damages to the exhibition. Sites may be held responsible for extensive damages or loss of the exhibition when it is under their control. Some previous exhibition sites have put a rider on their insurance for the exhibition display period, although doing so is not required.

III. Eligibility

Any U.S. nonprofit organization with IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status is eligible, as are state and local government agencies and federally-recognized Indian tribal governments. Eligible institutions include but are not limited to public, research, and special libraries; historical societies; museums; civic, community, and heritage organizations; and institutions of higher learning. Individuals are not eligible to apply.

Federal entities are ineligible to apply. Applications from organizations whose projects are so closely intertwined with a federal entity that the project takes on characteristics of the federal entity’s own authorized activities may also be deemed ineligible. This does not preclude applicants from using grant funds from, or sites and materials controlled by, other federal entities in their projects.

Late, incomplete, and ineligible applications will not be reviewed.

IV. Application and Submission Information

Applications will be accepted for “Lincoln, the Constitution, and the Civil War” between January 5 and May 5, 2011.

Getting Started

To begin the application process, go to To apply to host the “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” exhibition, you must complete the following eight steps:


1. Log in or Register

Before you access the application, you must register to create an application account. To register, you must complete the Project Director Information in step 2 below.

  • 1.A - LOG IN If you have already registered, you may log in, using your existing e-mail and password.
  • 1.B - REGISTER If you have not yet registered, you may do so now.

2. Complete Project Director Information

To register, you must complete the Project Director Information. Note: The Project Director is the person completing the online form and is expected to be the primary point of contact for the project at the applicant institution. To complete step 2, provide all of the information that is requested on the Project Director Information screen.
You must then save the information.

One piece of information that must be supplied in this section of the application is the applicant institution’s DUNS number. All institutions receiving an award are required to provide a DUNS number, issued by Dun & Bradstreet. Project directors should contact their institution’s grants administrator or chief financial officer to obtain their institution’s DUNS number. Federal grant or subgrant applicants can obtain a DUNS number free of charge by calling 1-866-705-5711. (
Learn more about the requirement.)

After clicking the “SAVE” button, you will be able to return to the application at any time and log in, using your e-mail address and password. This will allow you to edit, save, and return to your application as needed prior to the May 5, 2011, submission deadline.

3. Complete Project Coordinator Information

The Project Coordinator is responsible for reviewing all material related to setting up and taking down the exhibition, and for supervising and participating in these tasks.

Is the Project Coordinator the same person as the Project Director (the person completing the application)?

  • If Yes, check box and skip to step 4.
  • If No, provide all of the information that is requested. You must then save the information.

4. Complete Exhibition Site Information

If your institution is selected to host the “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” exhibition, where should the exhibition be shipped? In most cases, this will be the project director’s or the project coordinator’s institution.

For shipping purposes, you need to provide the address of a physical building (i.e., not a post office box) to which the exhibition can be delivered. To avoid confusion, please provide that address, along with the other requested information. You must then save the information.

5. Write the Proposal

Before you compose the narrative part of this proposal, we strongly recommend that you read all the guidelines carefully. If you do not, your proposal is unlikely to be competitive.

Note also that all host institutions are required to sponsor an opening event for the public and a minimum of two programs led by a scholar in the humanities, focusing on exhibition themes. (One of these programs may be combined with the opening event.)

Part I. Proposal Narrative

Please write a brief narrative about your institution’s plans for hosting the “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” exhibition. The narrative may not exceed 6500 characters, or approximately one thousand words. Be sure to address the following points:

  1. Why you are interested in hosting this exhibition and why you think your visitors would find it appealing.
  2. Your strategies for publicizing the exhibition and for attracting visitors.
  3. The names and qualifications of possible scholars or speakers who would conduct your programs.
  4. Your tentative plans for the opening event and the public humanities programs that you would sponsor. Please note that grant funds may not be used to pay for social events, receptions, entertainment, or alcoholic beverages.

Institutions applying to host the exhibition are not required to submit a budget with their applications.

Part II. Program Requirements

To host the “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” exhibition, your institution must affirm that it would comply with each of the following specific program requirements. Your application will be eligible for consideration only if you check the box at the end of this section, affirming that your institution would

  • provide an appropriate space to display the exhibition (at least 1,000 square feet) and sufficient space to store thirteen small shipping crates (18”x18”x42”);
  • provide security for the exhibition (as specified in the guidelines);
  • ensure participation by the project coordinator in the online training program;
  • use designated exhibition credits and/or logos on all publicity materials;
  • offer the public free admission to the exhibition (as specified in the guidelines) and to all public events;
  • file an exhibition condition report with ALA upon receiving the exhibition; and
  • file a final report with ALA within thirty days of the project’s completion.

Part III. Scheduling Preferences

The exhibition is scheduled to travel between September 2011 and May 2015. Using the drop-down menus, please designate
three periods during which your institution, if selected as a host site, would prefer to display the exhibition.

Please note that we cannot guarantee that the exhibition would be available during one of your preferred periods. Using the drop-down menu, please also designate periods during which your institution would not be able to host the exhibition.

6. Certify Authorization to Submit Application

An application to host the “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” exhibition is an application for a subaward from NEH, an agency of the Federal Government. ALA is required by law to ask applicants to identify for each application a certifying official, who is authorized to submit applications for funding on behalf of the organization. To complete this section, you must enter all of the information that is requested.

7. Review and Edit Your Application

The Review and Edit page summarizes all the information that you have entered, including your Project Director Information, Project Coordinator Information, Exhibition Site Information, and your Narrative. From this page you can

  • review and edit each section,
  • save the entire application and log out of the system, or
  • move ahead to submit your application.

8. Submit Your Application

Once you have completed all parts of your application, you may submit it at any time by selecting the "Submit Application" button.

All applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Central Time. on May 5, 2011.
Applications submitted after that time will be considered ineligible.

Note that once you have submitted your application, you can no longer alter it. The application will then be submitted for review.

You will receive via e-mail a confirmation of the submission of your application. At the confirmation page you will be able to print out a copy of your application, which you should keep.

V. Application Review

Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria.

  • The quality of the ideas underlying the planned public programs (two of which must feature a lecture and discussion by a qualified scholar on exhibition themes).
  • The availability of appropriate exhibition space, and the ability to provide security for the exhibition.
  • The location of the sites. (The selection committee would like the exhibition to visit all regions of the country.)
  • The size and demographics of the community. (The selection committee seeks a mix of communities of different sizes and varied demographics.)
  • Evidence that the site has the support of community groups and other organizations in planning for the exhibition. Selectors welcome programming collaborations among historical, cultural, civic, and other kinds of organizations within a community. However, sending the exhibition to more than one venue in a community during the six-week exhibition period is prohibited.
  • Evidence that the site can reach target audiences and market the exhibition and related programs effectively. Often, collaboration with other organizations in the community is a good strategy for accomplishing this goal.
  • The library’s commitment to devoting staff time to successfully displaying the exhibition in the community and developing related programming.

Review process

Each application will be assessed by a review panel of librarians and representatives of other educational and cultural institutions and disciplines, in collaboration with the staff of ALA and NEH.

Evaluators may take geographical and demographic distribution into consideration when selecting exhibition sites. The Chairman of NEH will make the final decisions.

VI. Award Administration Information

  • Application Deadline: May 5, 2011
  • Grant Notification: August 1, 2011
  • Programming Period: September 1, 2011 through May 31, 2015
  • Final Report Due: thirty days after completion of exhibit display period

Award notification

Applicants will be notified via e-mail by August 1, 2011, of the outcome of their applications.

Reporting requirements

Award recipients will be required to submit a final performance report to ALA within thirty days after completion of their projects.

VII. Points of Contact

If you have questions about the program, contact:

American Library Association

1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045


We the People

National Endowment for the Humanities

Room 511

1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C. 20506


VIII. Other Information

Privacy policy

Information in these guidelines is solicited under the authority of the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965, as amended, 20 U.S.C. 956. The principal purpose for which the information will be used is to process the grant application. The information may also be used for statistical research, analysis of trends, and Congressional oversight. Failure to provide the information may result in the delay or rejection of the application.

Application completion time

The Office of Management and Budget requires federal agencies to supply information on the time needed to complete forms and also to invite comments on the paperwork burden. NEH estimates that the average time to complete this application is three hours per response. This estimate includes time for reviewing instructions, researching, gathering, and maintaining the information needed, and completing and reviewing the application. Please send any comments regarding the estimated completion time or any other aspect of this application, including suggestions for reducing the completion time, to the Chief Guidelines Officer, at; to the Director of the Office of Publications, National Endowment for the Humanities, Washington, DC 20506; and to the Office of Management and Budget, Paperwork Reduction Project (3136-0134), Washington, DC 20503. According to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, no persons are required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a valid OMB number.