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U.Va. History Web Sites Receive Prestigious National Awards
"Valley of the Shadow" and "Uncle Tom's Cabin" Digital Projects Share New E-Lincoln Prize

February 12, 2001 -- Two acclaimed University of Virginia electronic archives for humanities research and learning will share the inaugural e-Lincoln Prize, a new award of the prestigious annual Lincoln Prizes, the most generous in the field of American history.

Ed Ayers

"The Valley of the Shadow: The Eve of the War," a CD-ROM and Web site, created by historians Edward L. Ayers, Anne S. Rubin and William G. Thomas and accompanied by a book, was awarded a $40,000 first place prize in the competition. The project, published electronically by W.W. Norton & Co. and U.Va., exhaustively documents the history of two Civil War era communities, North and South, offering vast research resources.

Stephen Railton

A $10,000 second place prize was won by U.Va. English professor Stephen Railton for his Web site, "Uncle Tom's Cabin and American Culture: A Multi-Media Archive," a joint project of U.Va. and the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, Conn. The project focuses on the impact of the most influential American novel of the 19th century.

The Lincoln prizes, awarded by Gettysburg College, honor the finest scholarly works on Lincoln or the Civil War era. For the first time they include the finest scholarly work on the war era produced in digital form on the Web or CD or other forms of electronic distribution. The prize board of trustees said the new element was added to emphasize the vast potential of the Internet and electronic scholarship in the field of history. A jury of scholars chose the winners from 24 electronic entries, and announced them on Lincoln's birthday.

Both widely acclaimed digital projects were created and published electronically through U.Va.'s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities and make use of many documents from the University Library. Teachers, scholars, students, and the general public are able both to learn and to conduct research about the 19th century through the electronic archives.

The Valley of the Shadow Project takes two communities, one Northern and one Southern, through the experience of the American Civil War. The project is a hypermedia archive of thousands of sources for the period before, during, and after the Civil War for Augusta County, Va., and Franklin County, Pa. Those sources include newspapers, letters, diaries, photographs, maps, church records, population census, agricultural census, and military records. Students and others can explore every dimension of the conflict and write their own histories, reconstructing the life stories of women, African Americans, farmers, politicians, soldiers, and families. The project is intended for secondary schools, community colleges, libraries, and universities.

Edward Ayers, the Hugh P. Kelley Professor of History, and the author of "The Promise of the New South" and other books on Southern history, conceived the idea of a dual community study of the Civil War in 1990. He planned to pursue it through traditional means of research until he saw that hypermedia offered new possibilities for doing local studies.

William Thomas, the Valley Project manager, is director of the Virginia Center for Digital History and received his Ph.D. in history from U.Va. in 1995.

Anne S. Rubin served as the Valley project manager and also received her Ph.D. from U.Va. She is currently an assistant professor of history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She is also working on the project as a part-time consultant.

The "Uncle Tom's Cabin" project uses texts, illustrations and other documentation to examine the novel's longtime impact on American culture. The jury cited Railton's Web site for offering "what would not be available in any single book library."

Contact: Bob Brickhouse, (804) 924-6856

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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