Executive Director of the President’s Committee, Rachel Goslins joined National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis and National Trust for Historic Preservation President Stephanie Meeks to announce the 2010 Save America’s Treasures (SAT) awards at President’s Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington DC. Although this year’s sixty-one SAT awards cover a broad range of projects, about a half-dozen honor the experiences and achievements of African-Americans, and collectively these projects were a fitting tribute for the kick-off of African-American History Month. With leaders of SAT’s other federal partners present—the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment of the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services—the announcement took place in the room where President Abraham Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation.
“On this, the first day of African American History Month, we are honored and humbled to be making this announcement in the room where President Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation—the edict that opened the door to freedom for more than 3 million enslaved African Americans. This room, and the restoration of the entire cottage, exemplifies the terrific work that Save America’s Treasures grants accomplish,” said Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service.
All of this year’s awards form a larger narrative about our country’s identity, values and aspirations. Among this year’s projects are the Yaughan and Curriboo Archaeological Collection from two South Carolina plantations that reveal the daily lives of the Africans brought here as slaves. Although Lincoln freed the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation, almost another 100 years of segregation was the norm as another SAT project—the Jim Crow Railroad car—from that era makes clear. Two more SAT grants celebrate the achievements of African-American culture by preserving the archives of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the first African-American ballet company, and the works of photographer Gordon Parks.
These awards are among the thirty-six collections projects funded this year. An additional twenty-five projects focus on structures and places, such as the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park. Here the S.S Red Oak is berthed, and it is one of the few Victory-class ammunition ships built by the Kaiser Shipyards to be preserved. The restoration of this ship began in 1998 by the Richmond Museum Association with a crew of more than 50 expert volunteers, mostly Navy retirees and merchant seamen, who worked to clean, repair and paint the super structure of the ship, install a Coast Guard approved sanitation system and upgrade the electrical system. The work isn’t glamorous nor is it cheap. Yet each year Save America’s Treasures engages thousands of volunteers, organizations and communities through its grants to ensure that the stories embedded in these artifacts and places aren’t lost.
“One of the pleasures of Save America’s Treasures is that in rescuing and preserving the critical fragments of our past, we re-discover both well-known cultural icons, like this year’s award to the “Lost Silent Films”, and less-well known treasures, like Butte Montana’s Mineyard Headframes. All the awards remind us how important it is for each generation to be reminded how rich and varied our culture and history is,” says George Stevens, Jr., Co-Chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
In 2010, Save America’s Treasures received 338 grant applications from eligible federal agencies; state, local, and tribal governments; and nonprofit organizations requesting a total of $90.4 million. In addition to the sixty-one projects awarded competitive funds through SAT’s interagency collaboration, which blends the cross-disciplinary expertise of the NEA, NEH, IMLS and the National Park Service, Congress also designated another thirty-six projects for funding in 2010.
Since 1999, the program has awarded 1,287 grants totaling almost $300 million to preserve nationally significant and endangered historic structures, places, collections, artifacts, and artistic works in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. These grants have leveraged another almost $400 million in matching funds through efforts of the individuals, communities and the leadership of the program’s private partner, Save America’s Treasures at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.