Data Forum

Introducing the National Inventory of Humanities Organizations


Today the Academy’s Humanities Indicators (HI) launches its latest resource, the National Inventory of Humanities Organizations, or NIHO. Developed with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the help of advisors drawn from a variety of humanities worlds, NIHO identifies and describes over 45,000 organizations engaged in humanities work. This information is available free of charge via an online database that is searchable by organization location, type, disciplinary focus, control (e.g., non- versus for-profit), and several other parameters.

Why NIHO? For humanities practitioners, NIHO is designed to create mutual awareness and foster collaboration. The pooling of expertise and other resources will allow organizations to deepen and extend their impact. For policymakers and the public, NIHO communicates the staggering variety of organizations in the field, thereby dispelling the widespread misperception that the humanities are an elitist enterprise that takes place only at colleges and universities. For funders, NIHO provides a means of soliciting proposals from smaller, lesser-known groups doing strong work. We also hope NIHO will stimulate research on this organizational sector by allowing investigators to draw samples of organizations for closer study.

With the pilot phase of the project now complete, the HI staff hopes to continue work on NIHO. In Phase I the focus was on developing the database architecture as well as the organization classification system. As a result, not all of the humanities organizations identified by the HI could be included in the database. Should continuation funding be secured, we will incorporate these additional organizations and more fully profile every entity in the database.


The HI has invited three individuals who are well-acquainted with the promise of and challenges facing humanities organizations to discuss their work and how NIHO can support it.

As both a scholar and former administrator, Hope Shannon has been immersed in the world of local history organizations. She speaks to the ways in which such groups can use NIHO to leverage their limited resources.

Miranda Restovic and Sarah DeBacher of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities describe their organization’s efforts to bring rich, humanities-focused educational experiences to preschoolers, thereby expanding the traditional understanding of what a humanities organization does—and for whom.

The HI greatly appreciates the essayists’ contribution to the Forum and to the vitality of their communities.

Read Hope Shannon's essay: Why NIHO Deserves a Place in Every Local Historian's Toolbox

Read Miranda Restovic and Sarah DeBacher's essay: From Higher Education to Preschool: On a Mission to Shrink the Humanities Opportunity Gap





Humanities Indicators

Norman Marshall Bradburn and Robert B. Townsend