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Places and Faces: Edward L. Ayers

Today, I’m introducing the first installment of another ongoing segment, which I call “Places and Faces.” Each month, I’ll look at some of the more influential institutions, organizations, or people associated with the inception, rise, and promulgation of Digital History and the Digital Humanities. This week’s focus concerns Edward L. Ayers, President Emeritus of the University of Richmond and Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities.

Dr. Edward Lynn Ayers has an incredibly distinguished career and is one of the leading academic figures within the digital humanities. Ayres received a B.A. in American Studies from the University of Tennessee in 1974. Over the next four years, he went on to study at Yale, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1980. His areas of expertise include the American Civil War and the Digital Humanities. Ayers has published almost a dozen books and received an even greater number of accolades. Chief among his awards are the Bancroft Prize for distinguished writing in American History, a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize, and the National Humanities Medal (awarded by President Obama in 2013).


Dr. Ayers speaking during a commencement ceremony at the University of Richmond. Richmond-Times Dispatch

Of significant note is Dr. Ayers’s work with the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab and his continued efforts towards expanding various aspects of humanistic and historical studies. The DSL is dedicated to advanced technological research and expanding the overall reach and influence of the digital humanities, both inside and outside of the traditional classroom environment. As a Senior Research Fellow, Ayers made original contributions to “Visualizing Emancipation,” a digital history project aimed at exploring some of the underlying patterns associated with the abolition of slavery, both during and after the American Civil War. His collaboration with the DSL additionally facilitated the advancement of numerous projects concerned with the spatial relationships between significant historical events. A comprehensive collection of these works may be found at:

Ayers continues to act as a true ambassador of the humanities by participating in many projects that transcend traditional academia., for example, is a podcast, sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, that publicly addresses many of the historical events associated with some of today’s most pressing cultural and social issues.

Please feel free to explore many more of Dr. Ayers’s various accomplishments, or some of the current projects at Richmond’s DSL, and share your opinions here, at The Digitorian.


Want to Know More? 

Edward L. Ayers’s CV:

National Humanities Medal:

Digital Scholarship Lab, University of Richmond:

Back Story Radio:

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities:

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