The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia Awarded Two-Year, $300,000 NEH Grant

Photo credit: Library Company of Philadelphia

The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, a pioneering digital resource based at Rutgers University–Camden, is poised to enter an era of unprecedented growth, thanks to a two-year, $300,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

The grant will further establish the online civic project, led by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities (MARCH) at Rutgers–Camden, as the most comprehensive, authoritative reference ever created for the Philadelphia region, says Charlene Mires, an associate professor of history and director of MARCH at Rutgers–Camden.

“We are so grateful to the many organizations and individuals who have brought our project to this point, including our more than 30 partner organizations, 150 authors and editors, our digital publishing team, and our colleagues at Rutgers–Camden,” says Mires, who serves as editor-in-chief of the project. “Of course, we can’t forget the users of the encyclopedia, who regularly attend our events, offer valuable suggestions, and use this resource every day.”

The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia aims to foster a greater understanding of one of America’s most historically and culturally significant metropolitan areas. From abolition and the American Revolution to yellow fever and zoos – with cheesesteaks, row houses, and hundreds of other topics in between – the digital encyclopedia and an envisioned print volume will become the most expansive and up-to-date resource of its kind for the Greater Philadelphia region. It builds upon and adds to 30 years of research that has been published since the last full-scale history of Philadelphia was published in 1982. The project also highlights the city’s considerable regional, national, and global impact.

The NEH funds will support a two-year period of accelerated content development, focusing particularly on topics that tell the story of the Greater Philadelphia area.  “As a definitive source of information linking the disparate parts of a dynamic region,” co-editor and Rutgers Professor of History Emeritus Howard Gillette reports, “the encyclopedia will help users better understand their place in time and space.”

The project is also seeking funds from foundations and corporations for an additional two years of growth, which will allow for expansion of coverage of special topics, such as the arts, religion, and sports.

Each topic in the Encyclopedia becomes a hub for connecting digital resources throughout the region.  The newly enhanced Encyclopedia website offers an array of new features and pathways for exploring this ever-increasing coverage. For more details, visit philadelphiaencyclopedia.org.

Formed in 2001 with a challenge grant from the NEH, MARCH’s mission is to support humanities research, programming, training, and communications throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. The center collaborates with cultural and historical organizations and universities in developing new models for advanced work in the humanities, supporting humanities programs, strengthening community identity, fostering learning opportunities, preserving cultural resources, and educating visitors. For more information about MARCH, visit march.rutgers.edu.

The NEH announced on March 27 that it has awarded $18.2 million in grants for 208 humanities projects, including grants to digitize, annotate, and analyze a corpus of ancient Coptic texts of importance to scholarship in biblical studies, early Christian history, and linguistics. For more details, visit neh.gov/news/press-release/2014-03-27.

Tom McLaughlin
Rutgers University–Camden
Editorial/Media Specialist
(856) 225-6545
thomas.mclaughlin@camden.rutgers.edu

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