In 2026, the United States will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence’s proclamation. In anticipation of the upcoming commemorations, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation, New Hampshire Humanities (NHH) engaged Granite Staters in conversations around what it means to “build a more perfect union” throughout 2022.
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During the spring of 2022, NHH hosted a mini-lecture series that explored what responsibilities a citizen owes to others in society. In the almost-250 years since the Declaration’s printing, many of the legal rights possessed by the document’s signatories have been extended towards people initially excluded from the Preamble: women, Black Americans, Native Americans, and the poor, among others. Americans often celebrate the expansion of individual rights as a hallmark of our progress as a nation. Yet we rarely consider what corresponding responsibilities followed when these rights were extended. Through this series, we explored how Americans have understood a citizen’s rights and obligations throughout the country’s history. The series culminated with a keynote lecture in late spring 2022.
In February 2022, NHH launched a new Focus Grant to support public humanities programs that align with the goals of the A More Perfect Union initiative: to support community engagement with the history of our nation’s quest for a more just, inclusive, and sustainable society; broaden participation in the documentation and telling of our shared American experience; and deepen the public’s knowledge of and commitment to our nation’s principles of constitutional government and democracy. We encouraged proposals that explored any of the following topics: civic education and knowledge of our core principles of constitutional government and democracy; questions of racial justice and gender equality; the United States’ quest to become “a more perfect union” and its place in the world; the American landscape; and the experiences of under-represented communities within American history.
NHH supported five Connections series that use a recently-added A More Perfect Union themed book list. This list highlights books that focus on periods in the United States’ history when Americans fell short of the Declaration’s ideals – such as the enslavement of African Americans and the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War – and movements that strove to realize these ideals, from women’s suffrage to civil rights and LGBTQ movements. To explore these books and others from the Connections program, please visit our website: www.nhhumanities.org/connections.
Easy to book and coordinate, Perspectives offers facilitated group book discussions in virtual or in-person settings. We welcome applications from all New Hampshire libraries, established book groups, or community organizations. New Hampshire Humanities provides the facilitators and copies of books – you provide the eager readers! A number of our books are related to the theme of our 2022 initiative, A More Perfect Union. To learn more about applying and to view our complete book list, please visit www.nhhumanities.org/bookgroups or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions, please contact NHH staff at email@example.com.
New Hampshire Humanities programs are made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this these programs do not necessarily represent those of the NEH or New Hampshire Humanities.