Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Opens Archive on State Culture, History

Posted: Updated:
Matthew Gibson, director of the VFH Matthew Gibson, director of the VFH
You can find many different categories in Discovery Virginia You can find many different categories in Discovery Virginia

A new online archive is opening a collection of thousands of resources related to Virginia's history and culture.

The Charlottesville-based Virginia Foundation for the Humanities is putting 43 years’ worth of multimedia materials online for people to search and view for free.

The Discovery Virginia Digital Archive includes more than 6,000 publications, audio interviews, music recordings, and virtual tours of Virginia communities.

“It's important we remember our cultural heritage and the expressions that have created that heritage, but also that we really need to reflect on the past in order to understand where we are today and how we can be a different community tomorrow,” says Matthew Gibson, director of the VFH.

The collections range from folklife to African-American programs.

The foundation plans to add to the archive over time.

You can find out more about the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities' work on its website for Discovery Virginia.


Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Press Release:

Charlottesville, VA – On Monday, November 20, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH) launched one of the nation’s first digital repositories created by a humanities council to preserve its own content. Titled Discovery Virginia, the digital archive contains more than 6,000 of VFH’s preserved assets and projects since the organization’s founding in 1974.

The free digital archive is accessible to the public online at DiscoveryVirginia.org, allowing learners of all ages to easily access more than forty years’ worth of dynamic cultural and historical resources. The goal of the project is to preserve and provide public access to the Commonwealth’s unique and rich cultural heritage.

The idea for the project came as a result of the physical degradation of some of VFH’s most valuable and celebrated content. Since early 2016, Discovery Virginia program director Sue Perdue and her team at VFH have addressed this time-sensitive dilemma by collecting and digitizing hundreds of hours of audio and film from VFH programs such as Virginia Folklife, With Good Reason, and more.

Discovery Virginia users can look up a topic through its easily navigable interface, and the website will generate hundreds of results across multiple collections, subjects, and VFH programs.

VFH executive director Matthew Gibson commented, “For almost 45 years, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities has created programs and opportunities for Virginians to connect with ideas and one another to build stronger communities. Discovery Virginia is a digital archive of not only that past work, but also the work we’ll pursue in the next 45 years.”

The website will allow users to trace VFH’s current and most recent work back to its roots. For example, this past summer, VFH’s Encyclopedia Virginia launched a Google Street View 360-degree virtual tour of Tangier Island. But when searching the term “Tangier Island” on the Discovery Virginia site, audiences will find not only the virtual tour, but also an audio walking tour of the Island dating back to 1981, before Google even existed.

The site will also serve as a platform to deliver the content of smaller organizations and VFH grant recipients across Virginia, many of whom lack the resources required to efficiently share digital content with broad public audiences.

“Discovery Virginia will make it possible for people throughout the Commonwealth and beyond to access rich online humanities content,” said program director Sue Perdue. “From more than forty years of programming and grants, visitors to the site will find music, art, oral history, and radio programs on a wide variety of topics — Discovery Virginia will offer something engaging for everyone.”

For more information, and to experience Discovery Virginia, visit DiscoveryVirginia.org.