Cumberland University’s Papers of Martin Van Buren Project Receives Significant Grant

The Papers of Martin Van Buren

Cumberland University announced today that it received a grant for $150,027 from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission 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 are making accessible approximately 14,000 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. 

“This year, for the first time since 2020, we were able to reinvigorate our internship program, which is an important part of our work as a teaching project,” said Cheathem. He also pointed to the hiring of a new fulltime editor as a critical step in moving the project towards completing work on the first print volume, which focuses on documents from Van Buren’s early life and political career.

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, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, 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

News / History, Press, The Millard and J.J. Oakley School of Humanities, Education, and the Arts / Cumberland University’s Papers of Martin Van Buren Project Receives Significant Grant