African American Studies has been appointed director of Virginia Center for Digital History. This center is an independent center within the College of Arts & Sciences, located in Alderman Library. French was named VCDH director in July. He is exploring new technologies and collaborative opportunities. French stated, “I am working on assembling a team to take it into a new era.” He envisions expanding staff and creating a resource of specialists to address the diverse digital needs of historians. French also plans to foster the use and advancement of new technologies to expand the boundaries of digital history to create new ways of visualizing history.
French is expanding two of the VCDH’s hallmarks, collaboration and outreach. French plans to expand the center’s work with graduate and undergraduate students. It also conducts workshops, programs, and offers teaching materials to primary and secondary school teachers in order to integrate digital resources into their classrooms. A group of undergraduates created “Rising Up” last year in conjunction with coursework. It also produced footage from “Civil Rights Television News Archive 1950-1970” which was a documentary film. Two K-12 initiatives, “The Virginia Experiment : Growing Seeds of Democracy in Four Hundred Years of American History,” and “Perspectives Identity, Legacy: Democracy in American History Education,” are expected to benefit history education and curriculums in Roanoke and Charlottesville, Virginia.
French also envisaged a collaborative effort to link Angola, an African nation, which has extensive records on the slave trade that are rapidly deteriorating with Brazil, the destination for many of those who were seized in Angola as slaves and sent to the New World. Roquinaldo Ferreira, assistant professor, is teaching a course on “Africa in The Atlantic World” this semester. He is looking for funding to fund an electronic project that will study the slave trade between these countries, link it with larger historical developments, and shed light on the African diaspora living in the Americas. French stated that such a collaboration is “very exciting to me.”
The Virginia Center for Digital History (VCDH) is an independent unit within the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Virginia. VCDH was founded with the mission of creating new historical scholarship, and performing outreach and public service. VCDH houses a variety of digital projects that span the entire range of American history. These digital projects are available for K-12 teachers and the general public as well as college students and scholars.
Current VCDH projects are The Valley of the Shadow, Virtual Jamestown, Civil Rights Television News Archive 1950-1970; The Countryside Transformed. Race Scot French and Place; An African American Community within the Jim Crow South. The Eastern Shore of Virginia and the Railroad. The Geography of Slavery Project. The Dolley Madison Project. “The Ground Beneath Our Feet.” A documentary film series. “One Hundred Years of Life on the Lawn.”