Cumberland University announced today that it received a grant for $145,000 from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Papers of Martin Van Buren (PMVB) project. The funds will continue to support the creation of a digital edition of the Van Buren papers, which will make accessible approximately 13,000 documents belonging to the eighth president.
Mark Cheathem, PMVB project director and Cumberland University history professor, involves students with transcribing the difficult-to-decipher papers, many of which are written in 19th-century handwriting.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made the past two months challenging,” said Cheathem. “Thankfully, the NHPRC is able to continue funding projects like ours for the next year.”
In 2020-21, the project staff will be editing documents from Van Buren’s pre-presidential years in New York politics. During this time, he experimented with many of the ideas that later helped him build the Democratic party with Andrew Jackson.
By transcribing Van Buren’s papers, including his letters, speeches, notes, and miscellaneous material, this project is providing fresh insight into the founding of the Democratic party, the evolution of formal politics between the War of 1812 and the Civil War, and the changes in political culture that occurred during Van Buren’s lifetime. Additionally, it is helping scholars, students, and the public understand the maturation of United States politics during its early development.
The Papers of Martin Van Buren project is sponsored by Cumberland University and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and is produced in partnership with the Center for Digital Editing at the University of Virginia.
For more information about the Papers of Martin Van Buren Project, visit http://vanburenpapers.org.