VFH Grants — Map of Lights

Culture & Identity | Grants

Filming “Working for Peanuts”

Picture a map of Virginia covered with lights.

If every light shows one place where a VFH grant has made a difference, whether it’s to an organization, a community, a region, or across the Commonwealth and far beyond, then the whole state would be set aglow.

Our grants can be a spark, a bridge, a long-awaited opportunity. They create new resources in the form of books, exhibits, films, radio programs, oral histories, public forums and lectures, teachers’ institutes, and digital media.

They also create new capacities within the organizations who receive them and new ways of understanding Virginia and the world.

They bring the humanities down from the ivory tower and into the familiar spheres of everyday life.

VFH grants also promote economic development and tourism. They help to raise and leverage other funds.  Many times, ours is the first grant to support a fledgling project. Sometimes, ours is the first grant an organization has ever received.

The impact of our support can extend across the state or years into the future.

One excellent example is a documentary film on peanut agriculture in the region known as Western Tidewater, a region that includes the cities of Suffolk and Franklin and the counties of Southampton, Surry, Sussex, and Isle of Wight.

In Western Tidewater, peanuts are as important as coal is in Appalachia, as fisheries are along the Eastern Shore, or as bright leaf tobacco once was in the counties of Virginia’s Old Belt region.

Interview and other footage collected by the filmmaker Amy Broad with VFH grant support shows the human side of the peanut story and why this story matters, not just in Western Tidewater but to all of Virginia and beyond.

Grants from VFH to Paul D. Camp Community College have helped make this work possible.

VFH Open Grants are awarded in two cycles each year—in December and June. Discretionary Grant proposals are accepted year-round. Prospective applicants should consult our Application Guidelines. The VFH staff is also available to provide assistance and advice.

We are proud of the work our grant-funded programs accomplish, and grateful for the many partnership opportunities they create.

Recent Grants

Between September and December, 2013, VFH awarded 17 grants to the following organizations:

Clarke County Historical Association, Berryville
Watermelon Park Music Festival Workshop / Oral History 

A moderated panel discussion on the history and future of bluegrass music, focusing on the history of the performance venue known as Watermelon Park and featuring several of the world’s leading bluegrass musicians. VFH funds also supported filming the conversation for future broadcast.

Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society, Onancock
Eastern Shore of Virginia Museum Network Brochure

Production of a brochure describing the collections and programs of eleven museums and historical societies on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. All the organizations featured are active members of the Eastern Shore Museums Network, which was founded with VFH support in 2009.

Paul D. Camp Community College, Franklin
Working for Peanuts, filming & editing

On-location filming of a series of interviews with peanut farmers and others, along with footage of the 2013 peanut harvest, part of a larger effort to produce a one-hour documentary film on peanut farming and economy in Virginia’s Western Tidewater region. The project was developed and is overseen by a local steering committee, which includes members of the VFH Western Tidewater Regional Humanities Council.

Piedmont Arts, Martinsville
Fahrenheit 451: Our Future or Science Fiction?

A series of library-based community conversations on the role of mass media in society, using Ray Bradbury’s classic novel Fahrenheit 451 as a catalyst for these discussions. The project is a collaborative effort involving Piedmont Arts and all four branches of the Blue Ridge Regional Library, where the individual programs will take place.

The Fralin Museum of Art, Charlottesville
In the Shadow of Stalin: African American Artists and Intellectuals in Soviet Russia

A one-day symposium titled, In the Shadow of Stalin: African American Artists and Intellectuals in Soviet  Russia. The symposium is presented in conjunction with a related exhibit that has received national attention, and it breaks important new ground in the fields of art history and Russian/Soviet studies.

Wayne Theatre Alliance, Waynesboro
History and Culture Lectures

A public lecture series focusing on local and regional history in Waynesboro and the surrounding area.

Cape Charles Rosenwald School Restoration Initiative, Cape Charles
Voices from Over the Hump–An Oral History of the Cape Charles Elementary School–A Rosenwald School

Continuation of an oral history project and publication of an interpretive booklet on the history of the Cape Charles Rosenwald School, an important site related to the story of African American education on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The work contributes to broader explorations of African American history on the Shore as well as the history of African American education statewide—both long-term priorities for VFH.

Mary Baldwin College, Staunton
Threads of History: Weaving Community Memories

Oral history interviews, part of a larger effort to document the history of the Johnson Street neighborhood in Staunton. The focus is on the early-mid 1960s and especially on the role of Booker T. Washington High School, which was the center of African American community life in Staunton during those years.

George Mason University, Fairfax
Virginia Child Custody Project–Humanities Essays

Development of a series of framing essays for a new website exploring child custody issues in Virginia. The essays will be written by historians and legal scholars, and the site will serve as a central resource for information on a topic that affects children and families across the socio-economic spectrum.

Bonder and Amanda Johnson Community Development Corporation, Arlington
Bridge Builders of Nauck/Green Valley – Past and Present

Publication of a book on the history of the Nauck/Green Valley neighborhood, Arlington’s oldest African American community and the focus of an innovative community history partnership between the Nauck Civic Association and the Drew Model (Elementary) School. The area is currently facing intense redevelopment pressure and is changing rapidly.

American Focus, Inc., Charlottesville
The Tunnel: A Documentary Film about the Creation and Re-creation of the Blue Ridge Railroad Tunnel

Planning and research for a 30-minute documentary film on the history of the Blue Ridge Tunnel; on the Irish and African American laborers who built it; and on current efforts to preserve the site. The tunnel was built in the 1850s and was the longest tunnel in North America when it opened in 1858. It remains a civil engineering landmark even today.

Ash Lawn-Highland, Charlottesville
Interpreting Highland

Planning and research leading to a new interpretation of Highland, the Albemarle County home of James Madison and an important Virginia presidential site. The goal is to re-examine past scholarship, identify important themes and new research needs, and lay the groundwork for a fresh interpretive approach through print, on-site signage, and docent training.

John Tyler Community College Foundation, Inc., Midlothian
Rosenwald Schools in Goochland County

Research and interviews with former teachers and students, focusing on the history of Rosenwald Schools in Goochland County. Rosenwald Schools provided education for African American children in Virginia and throughout the South in the years prior to integration.  The project is based on an exemplary academic-community partnership.

The Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond
This Long and Bloody War: Teachers Institute 2014

A five-day institute for teachers, focusing on the events of the year 1864 and the “war of attrition” that had come to define the Civil War on both sides.  This institute is the latest in an annual series (VFH has supported five of the six most recent programs), providing access to nationally-known scholars, primary sources, and SoL-based curriculum materials.

Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission, Richmond
The American Civil War in a Global Context:  Signature Conference, 2014

A one-day conference, the latest in an annual series inaugurated in 2009.  VFH has supported all five of the previous events. This year’s program will “situate the…War within the wider context of world history,” including unification in Europe, industrialization, changes in the global cotton trade, the international abolitionist movement, etc.

Preservation Virginia, Richmond
Interpretation of Patrick Henry’s Scotchtown

A series of consultations with historians, museum professionals, and other experts, working toward development of a new interpretive and marketing plan for “Scotchtown,” Patrick Henry’s former home in Hanover County. The focus is on the meaning of “liberty, revolution, and individual rights,” ideals with which Henry remains strongly identified.

Paul D. Camp Community College, Franklin
Working for Peanuts, Peanut Documentary Project

Production of a one-hour documentary on peanut farming and economy in the Western Tidewater region of Virginia. Specifically, this grant supports editing costs for two versions of a film trailer for school and community use.  Earlier VFH grants have funded script development and filming interviews with local farmers, historians, and business leaders.

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