Historical Society of Cheshire County receives funding to Acquire State-of-the-Art Technologies

The Historical Society of Cheshire County has been awarded $51,000 from the American Historical Association’s Grants to Sustain and Advance the Work of Historical Organizations Program, which provides relief to institutions adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This opportunity was made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The Historical Society will use the funding for state-of-the-art technologies to share our local history stories.
We expect the technology to help the Society serve more people. During the challenges of the past two years, we have been compelled to offer programs in new formats to stay in contact with our audience and to remain relevant in the community. We quickly discovered that online programs could attract 200 to 250 people whereas the same program presented in our facility might have drawn 100 attendees at most. Furthermore, when these programs were recorded, they could be offered to the public long after the events took place. Our reach had expanded by accident.
The Historical Society’s technology upgrades will involve high-quality projection and sound systems for the benefit of those who attend the Society’s programs in person, and the ability to broadcast programs over the internet for virtual or hybrid programs. The technology makes it possible for programs to reach those who can’t attend due to transportation issues, mobility issues, or distance. The grant funding will be supplemented by $15,000 that the Historical Society raised through online fundraising such as a 2021 campaign with The Local Crowd Monadnock, a community-based crowdfunding platform. The equipment is expected to be in place by the end of 2022.
The Historical Society of Cheshire County is one of fifty grant recipients, which include site-based organizations, membership associations, and history departments at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Awardees will implement short-term projects that explore new ideas or build on experiments initiated during the pandemic—from online programming or publications to using new technologies or expanding audiences and accessibility.
“The past two years have been challenging for small history organizations,” said James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association. “Our awardees have made compelling cases for their status as essential resources, making vital contributions to public culture. The American Historical Association (AHA) is pleased to provide funding for our colleagues to promote historical work, historical thinking, and the presence of history in public life.”
“NEH is grateful to the American Historical Association for administering American Rescue Plan funding to help history organizations around the country recover from the pandemic,” said NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe (Navajo). “Small museums, historical societies, college history departments, historic sites, and community archives are essential to keeping and telling America’s story. These ARP awards will allow these institutions to develop new programs and resources that will expand access to this important history.”
Digital technologies have opened up several additional opportunities for the Historical Society. Very soon people will be able to search our collections database remotely from anywhere in the world. Our database includes about 25,000 photographs and artifacts, many of them over 150 years old, which are some of our most heavily used resources. When our database becomes available online, people will be able to log in from home, pop in a search term and find a historic photograph or artifact.
Visitors to the Historical Society’s website are now able to locate thousands of digitized pages of the New Hampshire Sentinel (1799-1889) and the Keene Evening Sentinel (1890-1945). The Historical Society partnered with the Keene Public Library, New Hampshire State Library, and the Keene Sentinel itself to digitize Keene’s historic newspaper and to make it available for public use.
About the American Historical Association: Founded in 1884 and incorporated by Congress in 1889 for the promotion of historical studies, the America Historical Association provides leadership for the discipline and promotes the critical role of historical thinking in public life. The Association defends academic freedom, develops professional standards, supports innovative scholarship and teaching, and helps to sustain and enhance the work of historians. As the largest membership association of professional historians in the world (nearly 12,000 members), the AHA serves historians in a wide variety of professions and represents every historical era and geographical area.
About the National Endowment for the Humanities: Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the
 National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at www.neh.gov.