Cumberland University announced today that the Papers of Martin Van Buren (PMVB) project received a grant for $149,968 from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The funds will continue to support the creation of digital and print editions of the Van Buren papers, which are making approximately 13,500 documents belonging to the eighth president accessible to the public.
Dr. 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 continued to challenge us over the past year,” said Dr. Cheathem. “Despite those obstacles, we’re excited about the significant progress we made on the first volume of The Selected Papers of Martin Van Buren.”
Cheathem also noted the importance of the inaugural Cynthia Van Buren Lecture Series, delivered by Dr. Spencer McBride in April, in helping publicize the project.
Throughout this upcoming year, the project staff will continue work on documents from before and after Van Buren’s presidential years, as well as completing work on the print volume which focuses on documents from Van Buren’s life prior to entering Congress.
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.