Cumberland University announced today that it received a grant for $149,968 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 digital and print editions of the Van Buren papers, which will make accessible approximately 13,500 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 posed significant challenges to our project this past year,” said Cheathem. “Thankfully, our staff was able to persevere and overcome most of them.” He also noted the NHPRC’s flexibility in the face of the pandemic, which included several periods of staff quarantine.
In 2021-22, the project staff will continue work on documents from Van Buren’s pre-presidential years. They also will finalize the first print volume of The Selected Papers of Martin Van Buren, which focuses on documents from his life prior to entering national politics.
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.