Tacoma, Wash. – In June, the Archives and Special Collections in the University of Puget Sound’s Collins Memorial Library were awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant to support the creation of primary resource digital toolkits for use in university classes and research. The grant is part of $40.3 million in new funding from the CARES Act supporting essential operations at cultural institutions across the country. The Archives and Special Collections proposal was just 317 selected from more than 2,300 applications and two grants awarded in Washington state.

“It fits so nicely with the work that we’ve been doing in Archives and Special Collections over the course of the last couple of years,” says Library Director Jane Carlin. “We’ve been uncovering the stories of Puget Sound—such as the history of the Black Student Union, understanding the Japanese incarceration and how that affected our campus, and exploring campus protest movements. The grant gives us the impetus to continue this work and make a focused effort to create digital toolkits that will be online, open, and accessible not only to Puget Sound faculty and students but to scholars worldwide.”

Carlin credits the Collins librarians who work closely with faculty members to develop lessons that integrate primary source materials into their classes. Archivist and Special Collections Librarian Adriana Flores ’13 has made many documents and images accessible via digital format prior to the coronavirus pandemic and move to remote learning. This grant will enable her and other librarians to expand access to Collins Library’s unique materials, particularly important in remote learning.

The CARES Act funds will allow staff members in the Archives and Special Collections to review and audit current teaching resources, scale up its digital collections, and create more robust and meaningful humanities teaching tools using digitized portions of its collections. The new kits will put primary source materials into the hands of professors to integrate into their courses however works best for them.

This flexibility extends to the community, as well. Part of the grant will provide funding to hire an individual to liaise with Tacoma Public Schools, creating lesson plans, discussion questions, and class prompts to supplement the toolkits and help make them useful and age-appropriate for local classrooms.

“It’s a great opportunity to show our commitment to the Tacoma community,” says Carlin. “The grant offers us an opportunity to look inwardly and ask, What types of resources can we provide to support the K-12 education curriculum here in Tacoma, and talk about Tacoma history and Tacoma legacy?

Librarians are already at work reviewing existing teaching materials and building new toolkits. The work will continue through the end of the year, hoping to begin making new kits available both on campus and to the community later this fall.


Archives and Special Collections, launched in 2011, supports the broader mission of the university while pursuing its own mission: to collect, preserve, and make available materials of lasting historical value that support research, teaching, and administrative activities, supporting the academic interests of more than 230 faculty members and 2,400 undergraduate students.

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 neh.gov.