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University of Minnesota’s Immigration History Research Center Honored with National Endowment for the Humanities Grant

The University of Minnesota received $300,000 in matching funds as a result of wrapping up a multi-year Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in July 2006 in support of the Immigration History Research Center (IHRC). Funds from the grant will be used to enhance the work of the IHRC, regarded by many as the country’s leading institution for the preservation and promotion of the history of American immigration. In conveying the award to the University, NEH Chairman William Ferris remarked, “evaluators were impressed by the IHRC’s ability to sustain high quality in humanities programming and resources. In particular, they applauded the way in which the Center has brought humanities perspectives to social issues.”

The NEH Challenge Grant was a centerpiece of the IHRC’s endowment campaign, “Stories Worth Remembering, Stories Worth Telling.” The campaign was undertaken to provide permanent funding in the following areas:

  1. endowment of the Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair in Immigration History
  2. care and development of the archival collections
  3. research support
  4. community outreach (including work with ethnic organizations and K-12 educators)

The IHRC was founded in 1965 in response to keen interest in the role of immigration in the making of America. Today the IHRC maintains a vast and diverse archive of documentation on various immigrant groups throughout the U.S. Included are diaries, memoirs, photographs, “America” letters, newspapers, pamphlets, organizational records, oral histories, and much more. The center also produces a wide array of programs and publications aimed at fostering greater understanding of the immigrant experience. Steven Rosenstone, dean of College of Liberal Arts, said, “The IHRC has for a long time been at the forefront of research on the dynamic heritage that has made this country what it is—a cultural and political mosaic created by people from every region of the world. As the nation rides the crest of another great wave of immigration, this grant makes an especially powerful statement about the current and future importance of that work.” The center’s work of documenting immigration history has been in partnership with the communities whose heritage it preserves.

With the challenge grant multiplying private gifts, the IHRC is poised to play an even greater national leadership role in building public knowledge of immigration’s impact. “This is an exhilarating time for the center,” said former IHRC director Rudolph Vecoli. “We are preserving a crucial chapter of the story of America just as that story is expanding and evolving all around us.”