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Mellon Foundation Grants $800K to Washington College’s New Community History Initiative, Chesapeake Heartland

My Eastern Shore

July 24, 2019


Washington College’s new community history initiative, Chesapeake Heartland: An African American Humanities Project, is gaining momentum with the announcement of an $800,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, an $89,000 grant from the State of Maryland and a $100,000 gift from a private foundation.

Developed at Washington College’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, and with an array of community partners, Chesapeake Heartland will launch a three-year initiative to digitize, share and curate more than three centuries of African American history. The project also will develop a new model of public history that can eventually serve other communities around the Chesapeake region and beyond, a news release states.

This project also collaborates with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, whose Community Curation Project will travel to Kent County next year and provide county residents resources to preserve their history, ranging from family photographs and letters to recordings of oral histories and musical performances.

“Chesapeake Heartland will take the study of history beyond the textbook and the classroom and enable us to rewrite history together,” said Patrick Nugent, the Starr Center’s deputy director, who serves as project director. “Kent County is full of exceptional individuals, organizations, and communities that care deeply about the past as well as the present, and we invite everyone to bring Kent County’s African American history to life, celebrating its role in the American story more fully, and turning toward the future proud and united.”