NEH banner

Funded Projects Query Form
One match

Grant number: FT-260211-18

Query elapsed time: 0.016 sec

Save this query
Export results to Excel

FT-260211-18

Sarah Elizabeth Igo
Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN 37240-0001)

Nine Digits: a Biography of a Number and a Nation

Research toward writing a history of the Social Security number, examining modern U.S. attitudes toward citizenship, governance, and civic feeling.

This project examines modern U.S. attitudes toward citizenship, governance, and civic feeling from a new and perhaps surprising angle: the history of the Social Security number (SSN). The now-familiar nine digits came to be annexed to most Americans’ lives over the course of the twentieth century. SSNs are generally understood as an incidental part of the larger story of modern state-building and social provision—or today, often as a risk. But I focus squarely on the number in order to offer a material and affective history of how Americans have envisioned the modern federal government and their shifting relationship to it. By considering what has often been seen as a regulatory, administrative, or policy matter as a humanistic one deeply entwined with questions of civic belonging, state obligation, and individual responsibility, a history of the Social Security number gives us new purchase on the dilemmas of American citizenship, past and present.

Project fields:
American Studies; Intellectual History; U.S. History

Program:
Summer Stipends

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2018 – 8/31/2018