PVHN Receives ‘Latino Americans: 500 Years of History’ Grant
The Pioneer Valley History Network (PVHN) has been selected to receive a competitive Latino Americans: 500 Years of History grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Library Association (ALA).
PVHN was one of 55 organizations selected from across the country to receive a cash grant of $10,000 to hold public programming — such as public film screenings, discussion groups, oral history initiatives, local history exhibitions, multi-media projects or performances — about Latino history and culture. The project, called “Herencia Latina” or Latino Heritage, will include programs and events from Turners Falls to Springfield, beginning in September. PVHN is working in collaboration with local libraries, museums, and organizations such as Holyoke Community College, the Springfield Museums, Turners Falls RiverCulture, Wistariahurst Museum, Casa Latina, and the Holyoke Public Library.
“Latino Americans have been present in our Pioneer Valley communities for more than a century, yet many people are unaware of their rich and varied history and culture,” said Cliff McCarthy, president of the Pioneer Valley History Network. “I’m thrilled that PVHN has this opportunity to celebrate Latino culture and bring this history to our museums, libraries, and our communities.”
The centerpiece of the project is the six-part, NEH-supported documentary film “Latino Americans,” created for PBS in 2013 by the WETA public television station. The award-winning series chronicles the history of Latinos in the United States from the 16th century to present day. (Learn more about the series at www.pbs.org/latino-americans/en/.) As part of Herencia Latina, all six episodes will be screened with scholar-led discussions at different locations throughout the autumn and spring. At the conclusion of the project, PVHN will donate DVDs of the documentary series to Holyoke Public Library and to Holyoke Community College.
Latino Americans: 500 Years of History is part of an NEH initiative, The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square.
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PVHN 2014 SUMMARY
Looking back at all we accomplished in 2014, I am again struck by how much we do with so little money. Often, when speaking about PVHN to other history-minded groups, I get asked, “How do you do all that without membership fees? What is your secret source of money?” Well, trust me, PVHN has no sugar daddy. We have a team of very dedicated volunteers — and some collaborating organizations — who work hard to bring great programs to the public history community in the Pioneer Valley. In keeping with PVHN’s mission, we work to provide these events and workshops at the lowest possible cost.
This year, for the first time, PVHN is participating in the Valley Gives Day campaign. On December 10th, people all over the Pioneer Valley will go online (http://valleygives.razoo.com) and donate to a wide variety of worthy causes. It’s easy and it’s fun and the Community Foundation of Western Mass. and other sponsors generously contribute additional funds to “incentivize” our giving. Please, if this is the “giving season” for you, first think of your local historical society or museum, and then, if there’s something left over, please consider supporting PVHN with a donation. (Even though December 10th is the designated “Valley Gives Day”, you can pre-schedule your donation anytime after December 1st.)
As always, I am astonished at how much we accomplished this year. And here is the most amazing thing — PVHN continues to operate without membership fees or dues and charges only the most modest fees for our programs. It is a struggle to make this work, but we all recognize that each of our organizations faces the same struggle. As much as possible, we have tried not to compete with your institutions for limited resources.
This year, PVHN initiated a new feature — our free, informal “Rap Sessions” on topics important to the historical museum community. Among these meetings were:
- “Grants: What’s Worth Going For?” hosted by Kathie Gow at the Hatfield Historical Society, who gets credit for developing the idea for this series.
- “Historical Program Development,” led by Penni Martorell at Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke.
- “Social Media,” also at Wistariahurst.
- “The State of Your House,” presented by Al & Betsy McKee, which looked at organizational issues for historical societies.
- “The Basics of Publicity,” at the Coolidge Presidential Library, which featured several special guests to help us explore what’s working and what’s not in publicizing our programs.
These programs have all been informative and very popular. Look forward to follow-ups — “Grants II” and “The State of Your House (Continued)” in early 2015.
This past year’s theme was “Made in the Valley” and, in keeping with our theme, our 12th Gathering & Fourth Annual Meeting was held April 2 at the Springfield Armory National Historic Site. We heard presentations on:
- “The Golden Age of Pioneer Valley Industry” (Guy McLain);
- “Poetry to the Earth: The Arts & Crafts Movement in Deefield” (Suzanne Flynt);
- “The History of Papermaking in Western Mass.” (Ken Schelling); and
- “The Challenges of Firearms in Museum Collections” (Alex MacKenzie).
Still, most people probably recognize PVHN primarily for our Events Calendar & Email List. The number of history-related events in the Pioneer Valley is staggering and continues to grow — we promoted more than 340 of them this past year! That means almost every day there is something to do or see in our region and PVHN’s calendar and email list have become an essential part of this process. Of the events presented by our member organizations, an incredible number — 55, give or take — were consistent with our “Made in the Valley” theme. Along with PVHN’s “Made in the Valley” website, our member organizations developed museum exhibits and even a lecture series based on that topic.
In November, we co-sponsored with Historic Deerfield a workshop on “Caring for Your Treasures: Preservation of Collections in Small Museums” which brought experts Barbara Moore and M.J. Davis, along with HD’s Amanda Lange, to provide training on how to safely handle, care for, and preserve the most common items in our museum collections. The event was free and PVHN arranged for lunchtime discussions of the presentations.
So, what’s coming up for next year? Our theme for 2015 will be “Immigration & Migration to the Valley”. This theme is intended to make us look at the contributions of all the various ethnic groups that have moved into the Valley over the centuries and helped us become the place we love. You and your local historical society or museum can help support this theme by:
- developing an exhibit, display, or event highlighting some aspect of immigration in your local area, or
- inviting a speaker to give a presentation or talk on some aspect of the theme.
In this way we can all learn more about the history of our region and share our information with a wider audience.
The number of history-related things to do in the Pioneer Valley is just incredible, so most importantly, get out and support your local historical society — and visit your neighboring towns, as well! You will enjoy yourself, you will undoubtedly learn something, and you will be a part of what makes the Pioneer Valley a special place to live in.
Thank you for your support during this past year. On behalf of the PVHN Board of Directors, we wish you a wonderful 2015.
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Photo credit: Irish Polish Society, Dublin, Ireland
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