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Home arrowNews arrowJanuary 5, 2012

The Big Read is a Big Opportunity for Preservation Non-Profits

The Big Read is a Big Opportunity for Preservation Non-ProfitsThe Advisory Council on Historic Preservation encourages non-profit preservation organizations to use local historic resources in conjunction with The Big Read, a program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, to create wider understanding of and build support for the importance of historic place.

This is a particularly good opportunity for non-profit organizations in Preserve America and Main Street communities to use history and resources linked to the authors featured in The Big Read, and receive financial assistance in the form of grants to create appropriate events. It is also an outstanding opportunity for house and history museums.

The deadline for proposing a Big Read event and applying for a grant is February 1, 2012. Month-long Big Read projects must take place between September 2012 and June 2013. Seventy-five grants ranging from $2,000 to $20,000 are available. For more information and a list of the authors and works, please visit

The Big Read features 31 authors and provides communities with historic connections to the featured authors some great opportunities to bring attention of the significance of local historic place to new audiences. Working with local schools and public libraries is particularly recommended in creating programs.

At least 16 Preserve America Communities or Presidential Award (PAPA) winners have strong links to some of the featured authors. For example, Little Falls, Minnesota, was the birthplace of Louise Erdrich, author of Love Medicine whose works largely center on American Indian themes, and her current home is Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dashiell Hammett, author of The Maltese Falcon, was born in St. Mary's County, Maryland, raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Baltimore, Maryland, and lived as an adult in San Francisco, California.

San Francisco is the Preserve America Community associated with the most authors featured in The Big Read. In addition to Hammett, Jack London (The Call of the Wild) was born in San Francisco, and Earnest J. Gaines (A Lesson Before Dying) and Mark Twain (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer) spent important parts of their lives and careers there.

Other Big Read authors and linked Preserve America Communities include F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby Buffalo, New York, and Rockville, Maryland); Earnest Hemingway (A Farewell to Arms Oak Park, Illinois, and Key West, Florida); Jorge F. Hernandez (editor of Sun, Stones, and Shadows anthology, Washington, D.C.); Zora Neal Hurston (Their Eyes Were Watching God Baltimore and Washington D.C.); Robinson Jeffers (Poems born Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania); Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Poems Portland, Maine); Edgar Allen Poe (Stories and Poems Baltimore); John Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath Monterey, California); Edith Wharton (The Age of Innocence The Mount, PAPA winner); and Tobias Wolff (Old School born Birmingham, Alabama).

Applicant organizations for The Big Read must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit; a division of state, local, or tribal government; or a tax-exempt public library. Eligible applicants include such organizations as literary centers, libraries, museums, colleges and universities, art centers, historical societies, arts councils, tribal governments, humanities councils, literary festivals, and arts organizations.

For more information about applying for an event grant, see

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