Recovery Program Receives NEH Challenge Grant

HOUSTON, TX—Arte Público Press’ long-term project to locate, preserve and disseminate the written legacy of Latinos in the United States from the Colonial Period to 1980, the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Program, has received a $500,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to raise funds to improve the digital infrastructure of its US Latino Digital Humanities Center (USLDH).

Dr. Gabriela Baeza Ventura, the primary investigator for the grant, co-director of the USLDH Center and executive editor of the press, said: “This support from the NEH will be critical in generating additional funding to create a customized cloud-based digital repository of texts and content management system, all with the long-term goal of making the hundreds of thousands of Latino texts already preserved by the Recovery Program accessible to scholars and community members.” Currently these recovered documents are stored in several different servers and are not easily accessed or searchable.

The challenge grant must be matched 1-to-1, so another $500,000 will be raised over the next three years to accomplish two main goals: 1) organize, index and preserve digital content and 2) provide multilevel access to the documents and metadata for a wide range of audiences in the United States and abroad. The entire preserved written legacy of Latinos will be discoverable through fully searchable metadata and indexing on search engines. Ultimately, the NEH’s support will facilitate the migration of the digitized texts to updated technological standards, thus ensuring the long-term sustainability of the Recovery Program and its products.

The USLDH Center, co-founded in 2017 by Drs. Baeza Ventura and Carolina Villarroel, serves as a venue for the development, support and training in digital humanities using the Recovery Program archives. Dr. Nicolás Kanellos, director of the Recovery Program and Arte Público Press, said, “This NEH Challenge Grant recognizes USLDH’s national leadership and invaluable scholarly research and will help prepare for the next technological steps for greater impact and reach.”

The largest endeavor of its kind to study Hispanic culture and literature in the United States, the Recovery Program was founded in 1992 and has digitized an extensive collection of books, manuscripts, newspapers, photographs, correspondence and other archival items. The broad scope of the project includes the recovery of all the conventional literary genres as well as letters, diaries, oral lore and popular culture by Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Central American and other Hispanic residents of what has become the United States. Its importance lies in filling the large gap that exists in American historical and literary studies: the Hispanic contribution. In addition to publishing databases, electronic and print publications, the Recovery Program organizes a biennial conference and works with hundreds of scholars, librarians and archivists in the US and abroad. The project will have a long-lasting impact on education and on our knowledge about a large and important dimension of US culture.

Arte Público Press is the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by US Hispanic authors. Its imprint for children and young adults, Piñata Books, is dedicated to the authentic portrayal of the themes, languages, characters and customs of Hispanic culture in the United States. Books published under the imprint serve as a bridge from home to school to support family literacy and elementary school education. Based at the University of Houston, Arte Público Press, Piñata Books and the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage program provide the most widely recognized and extensive showcase for Latino literary arts and creativity.  For more information, please visit

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