Scot French is an associate professor of history at University of Virginia

Scot French is an associate professor of history at University of Virginia

African American Studies. He has been named director of Virginia Center for Digital History. The center is located in Alderman Library.French was made VCDH director late July and is now exploring new technologies. French stated that he is currently assembling a team to help bring the VCDH into the next era. French plans on expanding his staff and developing a pool of experts to meet the many digital needs of historians. French also wants to foster the development of new and emerging technologies in order to push the boundaries of digital historical and to provide new ways to view history.

French, as the Woodson Institute’s Center for the Study of Local Knowledge’s codirector, has been working to develop a digital-history project for the past two year. Schuyler Espit and LuAnn William, students, are collecting and digitizing data to create an archive. The archive will contain research materials on Vinegar Hill. Vinegar Hill was an once-thriving African American residential neighborhood in Charlottesville. It was demolished as part of a larger urban renewal effort in the 1960s. French plans to use data, maps, photos, and the latest technology such as photo wrapping to create an interactive virtual recreation of the neighborhood. It will allow users “walk the streets” to experience the history of Vinegar Hill in the context of Jim Crow, civil right, and African American community history from 1865 until the present.

French envisaged another collaborative effort that would link Angola in Africa, where the records of slavery trade are rapidly deteriorating to Brazil. Brazil is the destination of many slaves captured in Angola and transported to the New World. Roquinaldo a. Ferreira is the assistant professor and co-teaching this semester’s course on “African in the Atlantic World.” He is seeking funding to support an electronic project that would examine the slave trade between the countries and link it to larger historical developments as well as shed light onto the African diaspora within the Americas. French expressed excitement at the possibility of such collaboration.

The Virginia Center for Digital History at the University of Virginia is an independent, non-profit center located within the College of Arts and Sciences. VCDH’s founding mission was to develop new forms and methods of historical scholarship. It also performed outreach and public services. VCDH has a number digital projects that cover the full range of American History, which can be used by K-12 teachers, the general population, college students, and scholars. Current VCDH Projects: The Valley of the Shadow; Virtual Jamestown. Civil Rights Television News Archive. 1950-1970. The Countryside Transformed. Race and Place. A Community of African Americans in the Jim Crow South. The Eastern Shore of Virginia and the Railroad. The Geography of Slavery Project. The Dolley Madison Project. The Scot French Ground Beneath Our Feet. Documentary film series.