Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture

Leading Early American Scholarship Since 1943

Digital Archives in the Commonwealth Summit

October 13, 2017

University of Virginia

The Digital Archives in the Commonwealth Summit aims to highlight the growing number of significant and innovative efforts to conceive of and construct digital archives within Virginia. A joint effort between the University of Virginia Law Library, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the Washington and Lee University Library, and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture, the Summit will serve as a forum for the impressive efforts of those within the Commonwealth contributing to or interested in the digitization and interpretation of archival materials. The Summit will be an open-ended conference assembling individuals and institutions across disciplines—including but not limited to archivists, scholars, librarians, museum specialists, and technologists—who are expanding and grappling with the role of archives and archives-based research in the digital age. It will be an opportunity to present past, future, and ongoing digital archives projects and to explore practical, theoretical, and methodological issues regarding the convergence of archival practice, scholarly research, and pedagogy.

We welcome proposals of individual papers and complete panels of three to four speakers (15 minutes per speaker), workshops (50 minutes), and participants in a digital archives lightning round (5 minutes per speaker).

We envision the summit engaging with the following topics:

  • How do digital surrogates change our interpretation, use, or understanding physical materials?
  • New techniques of interfacing, indexing, and discovering content within collections.
  • Methods of expanding access, assessing public engagement, and promoting digital archives projects.
  • New models of description, interpretation, or analysis of digital archives.
  • The inclusion of critical archives theory in archival practice, such as encouraging a focus on collecting and highlighting materials from understudied subjects and persons, opening collections to new audiences and methods of interpretation, or discussions the privileged role archives play in historical memory making.
  • The value of digitization in terms of the preservation of the cultural record.
  • Discussions on the convergence of technologists, archivists, and scholars inside and outside the archives, particularly regarding collaborative methods of selecting, processing, interpreting, and teaching with collections and digital archives.
  • Institutional issues surrounding funding, prioritization, collaboration, or the digital humanities.
  • The technological underpinnings of digital archives creation including digitization methods, transcription, development of data models, standards-based metadata, hosting solutions, data management, the application of empirical data techniques, and data visualization.
  • Digital archives as pedagogical instruments in classroom instruction and public engagement.

If you are proposing a panel or workshop, please submit a one-paragraph description of your proposed topic and a c.v. for each participant.

If you are suggesting a topic or individual paper, please submit a one-paragraph description of same and your c.v.

If you would like to participate in the lightning round/show-and-tell, then please submit a one-paragraph description of what you intend to demonstrate including links to existing exhibits, if applicable, and note any technical needs for your demonstration that exceed the standard wifi-and-projection set up. (For example, if you want people to have access to laptops or keyboards during the demonstration so that they can interact with your materials then please note that in your proposal.) We will do our best to accommodate these requirements. Please also include a c.v. for anyone involved in the demonstration.

You may propose both a panel or roundtable, etc., and a lightning round demonstration.

All submissions will be acknowledged by email. If you do not receive an acknowledgement, please resubmit or contact Kim Foley ( For any additional questions, please contact Jim Ambuske (

ALL proposals are due by June 30, 2017.