Mark Cheathem

Mark Cheathem

The Papers of Martin Van Buren project at Cumberland University is part of a groundbreaking digital publishing enterprise at the University of Virginia, which The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded $1 million in funding.

The funding will support the Virginia Digital Publishing Cooperative, a partnership between the Center for Digital Editing and University of Virginia Press that developed out of an NHPRC-Mellon planning grant awarded in 2017. The new award, issued in December 2019, will promote the creation of an accessible, robust and sustainable system for publishing the work of scholars who transcribe and annotate records of historical importance.

The grant was made possible through a partnership between The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. In 2017, the NHPRC-Mellon Digital Edition Publishing Cooperatives initiative was developed in response to “the urgent need of scholars and documentary editors for reliable, sustainable, authoritative, and field-driven outlets for publication and discovery of digital editions.”

For the next three years, individuals and organizations from around the globe will collaborate on building the technical and human infrastructures necessary to make such a digital publishing pipeline possible. More than 30 leaders from the fields of textual editing, history, and digital humanities are participating, including Mark Cheathem, project director for the Papers of Martin Van Buren at Cumberland. Other participating organizations are:

• American University

• Boston University

• Bucknell University

• Brumfield Labs, LLC

• Center for Digital Editing at the University of Virginia

• Centre for Information Modelling in the Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities at the University of Graz

• Constitutional Sources Project

• Dolley Madison Digital Edition/Founding Women at the University of Virginia

• Hampshire College

• Harvard University

• Filson Historical Society

• Johns Hopkins University

• Ramapo College of New Jersey

• SUNY Old Westbury

• University of Kentucky

• University of Mary Washington

• University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

• University of South Carolina

• University of Virginia Libraries

• University of Virginia Press/Rotunda

• Wheaton College

“The initial Mellon/NHPRC planning grant led us to refine the digital edition of the Van Buren Papers available on our website,” Cheathem said. “I expect that this new grant will further help projects like ours as digital publication becomes the new standard for making historical records available to the public.”

The Papers of Martin Van Buren is a joint digital/print project hosted by Cumberland University that will make accessible approximately 13,000 documents belonging to the eighth president. It will provide 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 will help scholars, students, and the public understand the maturation of United States politics during the nation’s early development.

The Papers of Martin Van Buren is sponsored by Cumberland University, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and the Tennessee General Assembly in partnership with the Center for Digital Editing at the University of Virginia.

More information about the project can be found at

Submitted to the Democrat

Submitted to the Democrat

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