Arte Público Press Receives $500K Grant to Improve Digital Access to US Latino Culture

UH Program Receives NEH Challenge Grant

Book being scanned by machinery

Arte Público Press, the largest publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by US Hispanic authors housed in the University of Houston College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, has received a $500,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for its Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Program (Recovery). The program aims to locate, preserve and disseminate the written legacy of Latinos in the United States from the Colonial Period to 1980 through this long-term program. The grant will be used to improve the infrastructure of Recovery’s digital archives for recovered US Latino collections in conjunction with the US Latino Digital Humanities Center (USLDH).

“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,” said Gabriela Baeza Ventura, primary investigator for the grant and co-director of the USLDH Center and executive editor of the press.

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 extensive digital collection 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 Baeza Ventura and Carolina Villarrael, serves as a venue for the development, support and training in digital humanities using the Recovery Program archives.

“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,” Nicolás Kanellos, Ph.D., director of the Recovery Program and Arte Público Press, said.

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 program 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. This project will have a long-lasting impact on education and on our knowledge about a large and important dimension of US culture.

For more information on how to support the US Latino Digital Humanities Center and the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Program, contact Kim Howard at or go to

- LaRahia Smith and Veronica Romero, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences