VFH Awarded $167,000 in Grants in Fiscal Year 2012

Grants  •  News

Between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012, VFH awarded $167,000 to support 43 important community-based humanities projects across Virginia.


In Harrisonburg, the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University received a grant to produce a documentary exploring Toni Morrison’s literary legacy.

“A writer’s life and work are not a gift to humankind; they are a necessity,” Morrison wrote.

Morrison was recently celebrated at Virginia Tech by a diverse selection of writers, scholars, and community leaders. Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, and Joanne Gabbin, among others, read excerpts from Morrison’s works and spoke about the impact of her writing on their lives and work.

The documentary will include video footage from this gathering interspersed with interviews with prominent critics and scholars. Ultimately, the film will be distributed to libraries, universities, and educational centers in order to educate the general public about the reach and depth of Morrison’s work. 


In Suffolk, VFH awarded funds to the CE&H Heritage Foundation (now Suffolk River Heritage) to produce a trail map that features historical points of interest and public-access sites along the Nansemond River and its tributaries.

The Suffolk Blue Water Trail Map calls attention to both historical and ecological sites, including early Indian habitation sites, early European settlement areas, and wildlife habitats. The map also pays tribute to industries that once thrived on the river, including the oyster, crab, and fishing industries that employed many African American watermen in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The map project began in response to a noticeable decline in public-access points along the river over the past few decades, and the project’s leaders hope the map will encourage the protection of the river environment, help preserve the river’s heritage, and create opportunities for firsthand experience of the human history and ecology along the Nansemond’s waterways.


In Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Anderson Gallery will launch an exhibit in the fall of 2013 that will explore the experience of men and women, now in their fifties and sixties, who were children during the civil rights era in Richmond.

VFH funds will support the development of an interpretive exhibit featuring portraits by the South African photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa and an accompanying panel discussion drawing on the oral histories of community members who grew up in Richmond during the civil rights movement. The exhibit aims to bring together a diverse array of people from Richmond and beyond to understand the past in a new light and shape a larger conversation about how that history continues to influence the present.

Across the Commonwealth

Grants from VFH are helping stories like these ones to be told across Virginia and beyond.

Non-profit organizations throughout the Commonwealth are invited to submit grant proposals. Application dates, guidelines, and instructions are available on the grants website.

The following is the list of 2012 Grants:

CE&H Heritage Foundation – $7,500
Suffolk, VA
Suffolk Blue Water Trail Map

Funds to support production of historical maps in printed and digital formats, plus interpretive outdoor signage for the Suffolk Water Trail, focusing on ecology and human history on the Nansemond River and surrounding waterways.

Eastern Shore of Virginia Barrier Islands Center – $6,000
Machipongo, VA
Spirit of the Bird

Funds to support a documentary film on the waterfowl hunting and decoy carving tradition of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, based on interviews with local historians and many of the leading carvers and traditional hunting guides living today.

Mountain Empire Community College – $5,000
Big Stone Gap, VA
Home Craft Days 40th Anniversary Recording Project

Funds to support production of a two-CD anthology of selected music performances from the “Home Craft Days Festival” in Big Stone Gap. The annual festival features traditional musicians and craftspeople from the Central Appalachian region.

Theatre IV – $5,000
Richmond, VA
Theatre IV’s Oliver Hill Project

Funds to support development of a new theatrical production on the life and achievements of Oliver Hill, Sr., the Virginia attorney whose pioneering work in the field of Civil Rights led to the end of legalized segregation in America’s public schools.

University of Richmond – $5,000
Richmond, VA
Mothers at War

Funds to support development of a documentary film titled “Mothers at War,” an outgrowth of another VFH-funded project that examined the experiences of women combat veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Virginia Tech – $5,000
Blacksburg, VA
The Barbara Johns Equality in Education Project

Funds to support a series of oral history interviews intended to provide context for an unpublished memoir by Barbara Johns. As a sixteen-year-old girl, Johns organized the student walkout at Robert R. Moton School in Farmville, Virginia, that ultimately led to desegregation of the public schools nationwide.

Historic Polegreen Church Foundation – $1,500
Mechanicsville, VA
Religious Freedom: How Did We Get There?

Funds to support a public lecture by the historian John Ragosta on the topic “Religious Freedom—How We Got It”, exploring the transformation of political thought in Virginia toward broad acceptance of the ideal of religious freedom.

American Association for State and Local History – $1,500
Nashville, TN
AASLH Annual Meeting

Funds to support a series of three public lectures presented in conjunction with the 2011 annual conference of the American Association of State and Local History, organized around the theme “The Promise of Remembrance and New Beginnings.”  Speakers included Adam Goodheart, Dorothy Cotton, and Spencer Crew.

Cape Charles Historical Society – $1,500
Cape Charles, VA
Transcription and Organization of Oral History Recorded Interviews

Funds to support transcription of approximately 90 existing audio and video tapes of interviews with long-time residents of the Cape Charles area. These transcriptions will be used in developing exhibits and other educational programs focusing on the history of the Cape Charles community.

Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University – $6,000
Durham, NC
The Moonshine Trials of Franklin County

Funds to support production of an audio documentary, intended for national broadcast, on an incident in Franklin County, Virginia, in which high-ranking local officials were indicted for illegal alcohol production during the Prohibition era.

Eastern Shore Community College Foundation – $2,000
Melfa, VA
Ain’t I A Woman 2012

Funds to support an interpretive performance and accompanying publication honoring the “lives and leadership” of seven women — four nationally known figures and three who made extraordinary contributions at the local level, on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

Hampton Roads Educational Telecommunications Association – $5,000
Norfolk, VA
Historical Minutes on the Eastern Shore

Funds to support production of a series of 90-second audio history vignettes on the history of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. A collaboration between the Barrier Islands Center and the production staff of WHRO-FM radio.

Legacy Museum of African American History – $5,000
Trouble Don’t Las’ Always: African American Life During and After the Civil War in Central Virginia, 1860-1890

Funds to support an interpretive exhibit and accompanying publication on African American life in Central Virginia during and after the US Civil War.

Louisa County Historical Society – $3,000
Louisa, VA
If it Takes a Hundred Years: The Journey of Women and African-Americans Toward Equal Rights

Funds to support research and planning and a series of public programs focusing on experiences of African Americans and women of all races in Louisa County during the period from the end of the US Civil War to the culmination of the Civil Rights Movement.

Science Museum of Virginia Foundation – $5,000
Richmond, VA
RACE:  Are we so different?

Funds to support a broad array of programs, public lectures, panel discussions and a companion, locally-focused exhibit designed to complement a major exhibition at the Science Museum titled “Race: Are We So Different?”

The Mariners’ Museum – $2,500
Newport News, VA
The Battle of Hampton Roads Weekend, Civil War Navy Conference

Funds to support three public presentations in conjunction with a larger scholarly conference marking the sesquicentennial of the “Battle of Hampton Roads.”

The Memorial Foundation of the Germanna Colonies in Virginia, Inc. – $3,000
Locust Grove, VA
Germanna Visitor Center Exhibit

Funds to support production and installation of a permanent exhibit on the history of the first groups of German immigrants to settle in Virginia. Script development for the exhibit was support by an earlier VFH grant.

The Museum of the Confederacy – $3,000
Richmond, VA
War so Terrible: Teachers Institute 2012

Funds to support a five-day institute for Virginia teachers, one in an annual series of teachers’ institutes marking the sesquicentennial of the US Civil War.

Virginia Nottoway Indian Circle and Square Foundation, Inc. – $6,000
Capron, VA
Nottoway Indian History – “From Barter…to Buffer…to Be”

Funds to support production of a permanent exhibit and related traveling display focusing on the history and contemporary culture of the Nottoway of Virginia.

Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Foundation – $2,000
Richmond, VA
2012 Signature Conference:  Leadership and Generalship in the Civil War

Funds to support a one-day conference on “Leadership and Generalship in the Civil War,” the fourth program in a seven-part series of annual events marking the sesquicentennial of the US Civil War.

Handley Regional Library – $1,000
Winchester, VA
History and Architecture of The Handley Library

Funds to support production of an exhibit on the history and architectural significance of the Handley Library in Winchester, and a lecture on the same subject to coincide with the exhibit opening.

Amherst Glebe Arts Response, Inc. (AGAR) – $2,000
Clifford, VA
Amherst County African-American Schools & Integration

Funds to support series of oral history interviews, public forums and additions to an existing website focusing on the history of segregated education and the integration of the public schools in Amherst County.

Foundation of the Flora of Virginia Project Inc. – $6,000
Arlington, VA
Meet John Clayton, Father of Virginia Botany

Funds to support a series of six public events featuring Living History portrayals of John Clayton, an 18th century botanist whose Flora of Virginia stood for more than 200 years as the definitive atlas of Virginia plant life. The programs are timed to coincide with the publication of new Flora of Virginia volume in late 2012.

Scrabble School Preservation Foundation – $6,000
Castleton, VA
A Time to Remember: Expanding Educational Outreach to Schools and Enhancing the Historical Record at Scrabble School

Funds to support oral history interviews, development of classroom lesson plans, and additions to an existing website focusing on the history of Scrabble School in Rappahannock County, and also on the broader history of the Rosenwald School movement through Virginia and the South.

Sweet Briar College – $4,500
Sweet Briar, VA
Interpreting an Antebellum Slave Cabin

Funds to support development of an interpretive plan for a former slave cabin located on the campus of Sweet Briar College in Amherst County, one of the few structures of its kind remaining in Virginia.

Brownsburg Museum – $1,500
Raphine, VA
Sentimental Attachments: Race Relations in Brownsburg, Virginia before and after the Civil War

Funds to support an interpretive exhibit on race relations in Brownsburg, Virginia—Rockingham County—before and after the Civil War.

Newport News Public Library System – $1,500
Newport News, VA
Annual Author Talk 2012

Funds to support a public lecture by the poet Nikki Giovanni, as part of an ongoing series sponsored by the Virginia Peninsula Literary Consortium, which includes seven public and university libraries in the Hampton/Newport News area.

Anderson Gallery, VCU – $6,000
Richmond, VA
A Community Remembers: Growing Up in Civil Rights Era Richmond

Funds to support development and promotion of an interpretive photo exhibit and accompanying panel discussion based on oral histories collected from residents who recall growing up in Richmond during the Civil Rights Movement.

Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society – $5,500
Onancock, VA
Eastern Shore Stories: A Farm Life Oral History Project

Funds to support collection and transcription of oral history interviews and a public symposium focusing on mid-20th century farm life on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. This project continues and expands work begun under a previous VFH grant.

Prince William County Historic Preservation Division – $2,500
Dumfries, VA
Lest We Forget: A Conference on Enslavement and the Emancipation Proclamation

Funds to support a three-day conference on the history of slavery and emancipation, coinciding with the Sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation in 2013.

Rappahannock Historical Society – $3,000
Washington, VA
Archival Records Digitization – Phase I

Funds to begin digitization of the collection of documents and photographs in the Rappahannock Historical Society, leading to an online catalog of the Society’s holdings.

Steamboat Era Museum – $3,500
Irvington, VA
Listen to Those Who Remember

Funds to support continuation of an oral history project begun under a previous VFH grant to document the history and culture of the steamboat era on the Chesapeake Bay.

Tangier History Museum & Interpretive Cultural Center – $7,000
Tangier, VA
Tangier Island and the War of 1812

Funds to support development of an interpretive exhibit, an accompanying publication, and related programs on the pivotal role played by Tangier Island in the War of 1812.

Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation – $5,000
Woodbridge, VA
Giving Voice; 140 Years of African American Heritage in Falls Church, VA. an Audio Guided Tour

Funds to support development of a walking tour exploring the history of African American life in Falls Church during the period from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement.

UVA Institute for Environmental Negotiation – $4,000
Charlottesville, VA
Virginia Food Heritage Project: Creating an Interactive Web Portal for Regional Food Heritage

Funds to support development of an interactive web portal for documenting regional food heritage in the five counties of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District.

YWCA of Central Virginia – $2,500
Lynchburg, VA
The YWCA Centennial History Project

Funds to support research and oral history interviews, the first phase of a larger project exploring the history of the Lynchburg YWCA within the context of the history and social fabric of the Lynchburg community.

Bath County Historical Society – $1,500
Warm Springs, VA
Rosenwald Schools in Bath County: Switchback School and Millboro School

Funds to support a series of oral history interviews with alumni of two former Rosenwald Schools in Bath County.

Friends of Handley Regional Library – $1,000
Winchester, VA
One Book, One Community Program, James McPherson, For Cause and Comrades

Funds to support a public lecture by the author James McPherson, whose book For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War is the focus of the 2012 “One Book, One Community” reading program in Winchester, Frederick and Clarke counties.

African American Historical Society of Portsmouth – $3,500
Portsmouth, VA
Portsmouth: The Other Side, The Making of a Museum

Funds to support planning for an interpretive exhibit on the history of the Portsmouth Colored Library, to be installed in the former library building, which is now the Portsmouth Community Museum.

African-American Heritage Festival Foundation, Inc. – $4,000
Staunton, VA
African-American Heritage Festival

Funds to support a two-day African American Heritage Festival, focusing on African American history and culture in the Staunton area, past and present, and in particular on the importance of local historic sites.

James Madison University – $6,000
Harrisonburg, VA
Sheer Good Fortune: Celebrating Toni Morrison

Funds to support production of a documentary film exploring the literary legacy of Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison.

Red Dirt Productions – $7,000
North Garden, VA
Common Ground: People, Place and Food in the American South

Funds to support research and script development for a feature-length documentary film titled “Common Ground: People, Places, and Food in the American South.”