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Using public and private funds to provide grants and operate programs, the West Virginia Humanities Council is the principal organization promoting the humanities in West Virginia.

The Humanities Council was created June 25, 1974, at the encouragement of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Reflecting the NEH’s original purposes, the council was first incorporated as the Committee for Humanities and Public Policy and focused on making grants for programs that applied the humanities to discussions of public policy by adults. Since then the council has broadened its activities, expanded the range of its target population to include all West Virginians, and diversified its sources of funding.

The council is a nonprofit corporation, not an agency of government. From modest beginnings funded entirely by federal dollars, the council has grown to an annual budget of more than $1.5 million, most of which comes from public and private sources in West Virginia.

The cornerstone of the council’s work continues to be the grants it awards to educational institutions, museums, public broadcasting, historical societies, and others. Major educational activities undertaken by the council itself include traveling exhibits, the enactment of historic figures, and periodic lectures. Since 1981, the annual Betsy K. McCreight Lecture in the Humanities has featured leading national scholars and authors, and the Humanities Council is a charter co-sponsor of the annual West Virginia Book Festival, held in Charleston.

The West Virginia Humanities Council is the publisher of The West Virginia Encyclopedia, which has now been published in both print and an online version. Since 2000, the council has been headquartered at the historic MacFarland-Hubbard House in Charleston. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

In 2015, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Humanities Council established the West Virginia Folklife Program to document, preserve, present, and support West Virginia’s cultural heritage and living traditions. With support from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the council started the West Virginia National Cemeteries Project in 2021. Through this effort, high school students research and write short biographies of individual veterans.

Read the National Register nomination.

This Article was written by Charles H. Daugherty

Last Revised on October 20, 2023

Cite This Article

Daugherty, Charles H. "West Virginia Humanities Council." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 20 October 2023. Web. 17 July 2024.


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