Special Collectionsa unit of the
TO RECORD DATA ON VIRGINIA'S AFRICAN-AMERICANS
BLACKSBURG, April 19, 2000 Virginia Techs University Libraries and other consortium members of VIVA, the Virtual Library of Virginia, have received a $250,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to create the Virginia Heritage Project, a database of African-American history and culture in the commonwealth.
"With this grant, VIVA will create an integrated database of thousands of tagged finding aids that describe and provide online access to primary sources documenting the history and culture of African-Americans in Virginia," said Gail McMillan, director of the Digital Library and Archives at Virginia Tech and coordinator of the Virginia Heritage Project at the university. By the end of the grant period, the database will be available on a free Internet site.
Eileen Hitchingham, dean of Techs University Libraries, noted that "the project will make documentation about the African-American experience in Southwest Virginia as accessible as the resources in more populous urban areas. The Virginia Heritage Project will save researchers considerable time and money when they don't have to travel or contact the 11 institutions to find out what is in our collections." McMillan added that the Project will inform researchers of small as well as large collections such as the library's six ledger pages of slave ship records from 1750.
According to Hitchingham, the Virginia Tech Libraries already have some materials to ready to include in the database. "We will be adding information from our digital presentations, A Timeline of Black History at Virginia Tech (http://spec.lib.vt.edu/arc/bltime/intro.htm) and the Black Women at Virginia Tech Oral History Project (http://spec.lib.vt.edu/bwhp/bwhproj.htm)," she said.
The grant will allow VIVA consortium members to provide one site where users worldwide can search over 17,000 pages of standardized finding aids online. The NEH funded the project for two years.
In addition to researchers, McMillan said that two groups who could reap benefits from the
Virginia Heritage Project are elementary and secondary school teachers and students. "The site
will be useful to them in developing skills for historical analysis
documents, records, and data, as required by Virginias Standards of Learning."
VIVA was founded in 1993 with funds from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) to provide, in an equitable, cooperative, and cost effective manner, access to library and information resources for the Commonwealth of Virginias academic libraries serving the higher education community. The consortium consists of the libraries of the 39 state-assisted colleges and universities and an additional 29 independent, not-for-profit educational institutions.
In addition to Virginia Tech, VIVA members participating in the NEH project include the University of Virginia, College of William and Mary, George Mason University, Library of Virginia, Old Dominion University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Historical Society, Virginia Military Institute, Virginia State University, and Washington and Lee University. The University of Virginia will serve as the project administrator.
Information about the Virginia Heritage Project is available on the Internet at http://spec.lib.vt.edu/VIVA/VHPT or from Gail McMillan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540/231-9252.
Clara B. Cox