Encyclopedia Virginia Receives Statewide “Friend of Education” Award


Front page of Encyclopedia Virginia
Front page of Encyclopedia Virginia

Encyclopedia Virginia, a project and publication of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, has been selected as the 2014 Virginia Council for the Social Studies (VCSS) Friend of Education.

Front page of Encyclopedia Virginia

The award honors organizations or individuals who advocate and provide resources for social studies throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Encyclopedia Virginia (EV), viewable at EncyclopediaVirginia.org, is an authoritative and user-friendly resource on the history and culture of Virginia. The Board of VCSS selected EV as the 2014 Friend of Education because it provides teachers and students in Virginia and throughout the world with high-quality and accessible primary sources, innovative pedagogy, and history scholarship.

Laura Delmore Lay, VCSS President, explained that EV’s “continued and supportive presence at [the VCSS] annual conferences, both by presenting and exhibiting, has ensured that thousands of teachers and students now use Encyclopedia Virginia on a regular basis.”

“We’re thrilled,” Matthew Gibson, EV‘s editor, said. “We created EV for the educational community and this award underscores that teachers value what we do and it is useful for them. The VCSS annual conference is always one of the highlights of our year!”

EV publishes topical and biographical entries written by scholars, edited for a general audience, and vigorously fact checked. Content creation is a work in progress, with more than 900 entries live on the site and new entries published regularly. EV also includes more than 500 primary documents and numerous media objects, including images, audio and visual clips, and links to Google Street View tours of historic sites. Using this technology, EV currently offers thirteen virtual tours of sites such as Poplar Forest, Montpelier, Bacon’s Castle, and Ash Lawn-Highland, with more in the works.

Encyclopedia Virginia capturing Google Street View Panoramas at the Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum in Lynchburg
Encyclopedia Virginia capturing Google Street View Panoramas at the Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum in Lynchburg

Brief History of EV

In 2001, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities a grant to study the feasibility of creating a comprehensive online resource on the history and culture of Virginia. After years of consulting with similar ventures, fund-raising, and infrastructure- and partnership-building, EV published its first entries late in 2008.

In 2012, the project partnered with the Library of Virginia to become the digital publisher of the Library’s ongoing, multivolume Dictionary of Virginia Biography, one of the most authoritative resources on Virginia history ever published. That same year, and in collaboration with the Virginia Indian Heritage Programs at VFH, EV created the Virginia Indian Archive, a repository of images, documents, and audiovisual resources related to the history and cultural experience of Virginia Indians since the colonial period. With increased financial support and readership, EV continually expands and serves as an essential resource for connection and discovery in the Commonwealth.

Award Presentation

The VCSS Board of Directors and the Virginia Consortium of Social Studies Specialists and College Educators will honor the efforts and achievements of Encyclopedia Virginia at its plenary session and luncheon of the 49th Annual Virginia Conference of Social Studies Educators on October 24, 2014, at 11:30 AM at the Sheraton Tysons Hotel in Fairfax County.