Collage of images from 10 grantee organizations with text Broadening Narratives

Announcing ten projects funded by new “Broadening Narratives” grant initiative



Grants total $579,000 to ten organizations in Chicago and Lowcountry of South Carolina;
Grant recipients to each receive a range of $20,000 to $100,000 to fund new projects


CHICAGO [July 27, 2021]—The Chicago-based Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation (the Foundation)—which supports land conservation, artistic vitality, and regional collections for the people of the Chicago region and the Lowcountry of South Carolina—is proud to announce the ten recipients of the Foundation’s groundbreaking “Broadening Narratives” initiative which aims to fund specific collections projects that bring forward underrepresented stories. The five Chicago-based organizations are the Haitian American Museum of Chicago, Honey Pot Performance, National Museum of Mexican Art, South Side Home Movie Project, and the University of Illinois Chicago, College of Nursing, while the five organizations based in the Lowcountry of South Carolina to receive the grant are Avery Research Center for African American History & Culture at the College of Charleston, Coastal Carolina University, Drayton Hall Preservation Trust, Harbor Historical Association / South Carolina Maritime Museum, and Penn Center.

This announcement represents the first round of organizations to receive the Broadening Narratives grant, with the second round of awardees to be announced in November 2021. All projects illustrate BIPOC communities, LGBTQ+ perspectives, working-class narratives, small community experiences, as well as other underrepresented groups and viewpoints.

“While the purpose of collections is to ensure that stories are preserved, many narratives are often overlooked because of decisions based on race, gender, sexual identity, educational background, economic or social status, or because they are perceived to be outside the conventional thinking of the day,” said David Farren, Executive Director of the Foundation. “We are thrilled to announce these grant recipients and want to thank these organizations for being part of this new way forward in collections thinking that shifts focus from the processing of material objects to the telling of broader and more inclusive narratives.”

The Chicago-based organizations and projects to be funded by Broadening Narratives:

  • Haitian American Museum of Chicago (HAMOC) will hire a specialist to catalogue its collection, establish procedures for working with the collection, and ultimately improve community access to the collection for future programming. The museum will make the collection accessible online and, as more items in the collection are documented, HAMOC will use its social media accounts to bring attention to the collection and promote online access.

“HAMOC’s collection is of, by and for the community, but has never been properly documented”, said Carlos Bossard, Executive Director, “the museum is so grateful to the Foundation for providing funding that will eliminate this obstacle, ultimately allowing us to grow in our mission to promote Haitian art, culture and history.”

  • Honey Pot Performance’s Chicago Black Social Culture Map (CBSCM) is the first initiative to construct an accessible archive of Black social history rooted in Chicago House music while exploring the cultural expressivity that precedes and follows it. CBSCM will serve as an interactive online platform and excavation of the positive spaces that Black people have made for themselves through social spaces and belonging.

“It is crucial that the information and ephemera we have from over 350 venues—which include first person stories from DJs, venue owners, musicians, and more—is appropriately archived before this wisdom is lost,” said Dr. Meida Teresa McNeal, Artistic/Managing Director. “Thanks to this grant, those in Chicago and beyond will be able to engage in new discussions around issues of nightlife and sexuality, Black cultural innovation and entrepreneurship, community safety in a charged racial climate, and similar matters.”

  • The enhancement of National Museum of Mexican Art’s Nuestras Historias: Stories of Mexican Identity permanent exhibition will include a series of videos about artist Carlos Cortez, a central figure in the Chicago art community, and will highlight the contributions of Mexicans to the storyline of Chicago. NMMA holds the largest collection of prints created by Cortez and is the only collection that holds Cortez’s printing blocks. For this project, a cross-departmental team, including members of Chicago’s Mexican community will work to select Cortez prints and photos of his personal items that resonate most.

“Our goal is to engage a mix of everyday people who Cortez identified as his audience—artists, labor union members, immigrants, restaurant workers, veterans, and health workers,” said Carlos Totolero, President, CEO & Founder. “We want to thank the Donnelley Foundation for helping us move this forward so that more people can become further immersed in the richness of Mexican art and culture right here in Chicago.”

  • South Side Home Movie Project (SSHMP) preserves and presents intimate images of historically marginalized groups, particularly African American families and youth, from the 1930s to the 1980s, offering public access to this unique historic resource through an online digital archive. Transforming this portal into an immersive, virtual introduction to the home movie collections, with interactive digital mapping tools and an accompanying curriculum for high school students and teachers, will invite a broad range of visitors to engage with, and contribute to, the rich visual history of the South Side represented in our films.

“SSHMP is a window into the visual details of family and community life, the moments that rarely make it into mainstream films or conventional histories of Chicago,” says Jacqueline Stewart, SSHMP Director and Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. “This funding really expands that window, providing the latest tools for creative collaboration and community engagement and an exciting opportunity to bring these fascinating images of the past into high school classrooms.” 

  • The University of Illinois Chicago, College of Nursing’s Chicago Black Nurses Archive Mapping aims to decolonize nursing archives, starting with the Midwest Nursing History Research Center (MNHRC), and recuperate Black nurses’ narratives with a publicly accessible, Black-centered history of nursing in Chicago. The project will promote existing archival collections, conduct oral interviews with working and retired Black nurses, and create mobile and digital exhibits highlighting their work in Chicago over the past 130 years. MNHRC will work closely with the Black Metropolitan Research Consortium (BMRC) to identify various archives across the city that contain records related to Black nurses in Chicago.

    “This project marks a pivotal moment as we work to recognize and celebrate Black nursing history, revealing narratives of Chicago’s Black nurses not only during crisis points in American history such as the Civil Rights movement or the HIV/AIDS crisis, but also in the current climate,” said Gwyneth Milbrath, PHD RN MPH, Director, Midwest Nursing History Research Center. “The Donnelley Foundation is helping us remake history, and for that, we are forever grateful.”

The Lowcountry-based organizations and projects to be funded by Broadening Narratives:

“The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture greatly appreciates the support of the GDDF and its initiative Broadening Narratives. The grant provides us the opportunity to document the continued activism of Black people and their accomplices in the long struggle for civil and human rights in Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry in their own words. Documenting and collecting these narratives now ensures that this history is not lost and is preserved for future generations and scholars.”

  • Coastal Carolina University’s Joyner Institute for Gullah Studies continues its work on the Gullah Geechee Digital Project, which aims to showcase the diversity and commonalities between Gullah Geechee communities along South Carolina. As a part of the Plantersville Cultural Collective, the collaborative project will collect community input and feedback on cultural interpretation, cultural heritage development, and documentation to develop storylines that broaden the historic and contemporary narratives in Horry and Georgetown counties.

“Coastal Carolina University is thrilled to partner with the Village Group and Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge on this grant to gather more stories, conduct workshops, history harvests, and community feedback on how the history of Plantersville is told. Gullah Geechee communities provide the foundation of the rich culture and landscape of our region, and we’re excited for the opportunity to help provide more resources to be able to understand that history.”

  • Drayton Hall Preservation Trust will catalog and digitize Colonoware, found in the property’s South Flanker Well. Colonoware is often seen as a unique artifact in its usefulness in studying the changing cultural identities of the colonial period. The ongoing research offers a unique window into the lives and ceramic traditions of the enslaved to better understand the marginalized communities of Charleston during this time.

“The support from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation is integral in the mission of Drayton Hall to expand our understanding of African and Indigenous people—both free and enslaved—living in colonial SC during the 18th and 19th centuries. Through the digitization of archaeological records and artifacts, subsequent research of this data, and sharing this work via community outreach, we can continue to explore how these marginalized groups impacted and contributed to the history of Drayton Hall and the Charleston area. In regards to scholarship of colonoware, this funding continues groundbreaking work in developing new methods of analysis and collaboration across institutions to more effectively examine the daily lives of these communities and the role of pottery-making in how they negotiated the colonial system.”

  • Harbor Historical Association / South Carolina Maritime Museum will create an exhibition that will illuminate the shipbuilding expertise of the enslaved Africans, explore the use of watercraft as a means of escape, and show the transition of Africans from enslavement on plantations to work in the local shipbuilding industry.

“Although elements of the role of African Americans in South Carolina maritime history have been present in our museum, this grant will allow us to broadly expand this history from the transatlantic slave crossings to post Civil-War maritime occupational roles. As a self-supporting non-profit, we look forward to applying these funds to partnerships with other local individuals and groups to accurately represent this history through narrative panels, oral histories, and community programs.”

  • Penn Center will transform its York Bailey Museum and other visitor experiences across its 47-acre campus, create a new, onsite preservation and storage space that will safeguard the center’s artifacts; and establish a new director of exhibitions to guide the creation of exhibitions and interpretative experiences for discovering and sharing Gullah Geechee culture and history.

“This grant will allow us to continue to interpret, safeguard and share the heritage of the Gullah Geechee community. As the only African American National Historic Landmark District in the state of South Carolina, we have a unique opportunity to share Reconstruction history and to serve as national advocates for preserving Gullah Geechee culture. The support of the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation allows us to continue this important work through new exhibitions and visitor experiences aimed at empowering and providing access to diverse audiences looking to understand our history.”

About Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation

The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation supports land conservation, artistic vitality, and regional collections for the people of the Chicago region and the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

For over four years, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation has convened five advisory groups to assist with the formation of the Broadening Narratives funding initiative by providing important feedback, keeping the Foundation apprised of trends in the field, and serving as valuable connectors and conveners. The groups include Black Metropolis Research Consortium, Chicago Collections Consortium, Chicago Cultural Alliance, the College of Charleston’s Lowcountry Digital Library, and the Southeastern Museums Conference.

For more information on the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, visit


Chicago Press Contact:

Amanda Berrios/Elizabeth Neukirch
The Silverman Group, Inc.

Lowcountry Press Contact:

Erin Spencer
Blue Ion

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