African American Studies has been appointed director of Virginia Center for Digital History. This center is an independent center within the College of Arts & Sciences, located in Alderman Library. U.Va. founded it in 1998. Founded by U.Va. historians Edward L. Ayers, and William G. Thomas III in 1998, VCDH is a leader for the use of digital technology to enhance the teaching and learning and transform the understanding, access, and teaching of American history. French has been involved with humanities computing since his time at U.Va as a graduate student. In the early 1990s. He was part of the team that helped Ayers, now dean at U.Va. ‘s College of Arts & Sciences — was instrumental in the development of the groundbreaking electronic project Valley of the Shadow. Digital history is still in its infancy stages, and there are not many experts in the field. Ayers stated that we are all still finding our way, one at a time. Scot has the right skills to direct VCDH creativity, energy and the ability to work with many constituents.
French acknowledges Ayers’ pioneering efforts in creating this field and showing, through his scholarship about the Civil War, Emancipation, the great potential it has for transforming historical research as well as teaching. French stated that Ed [Ayers] was influential in shaping my intellectual growth and creating a model for collaboration that I have adopted. From 1997 until this year, French served as assistantassociateinterim director of the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, where he developed numerous Web-based teaching and research tools for course work Scot French and workshops. French and Reginald Butler, then-Woodson Institute director, created the digital archive Race and Place An African American Community within the Jim Crow South. This project was created to encourage emerging scholars, outstanding students from minority backgrounds, to pursue advanced degrees in the humanities and social sciences. The digital archive contains oral histories, maps and census databases, city records as well as personal papers, newspaper articles, images, and other material related to the period of segregation in one South community.
French and Butler created The Chesapeake Regional Scholars Summer Seminar In African-American Studies Innovative Approaches to Teaching and Research in 21st Century in order to share computing in humanities with students at historically black colleges and universities. This annual program was offered from 1997 to 2000 and included hands-on training, lectures, and workshops. It paired scholars with community members to create public-history Web sites.