VFH Receives $1 Million Gift for Encyclopedia

VFH News

EV2Charlottesville, VA—Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH) has received a $1 million gift from its Board chairman, Barbara J. Fried, to support Encyclopedia Virginia (EV), the largest donation from an individual for the encyclopedia in its eight-year history.

Fried’s investment will partially endow a critical editorial position for the award-winning online encyclopedia, viewable at EncyclopediaVirginia.org, ensuring that this authoritative and user-friendly resource on the history and culture of Virginia will educate the public, including thousands of students and teachers, for many years to come.

Fried, president of Fried Companies Inc., a real estate development and property management firm based in Crozet, has served as chairman of the VFH Board of Directors since July 2014. She is also a member of the U.Va. Board of Visitors, a member and immediate past chair of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership State Advisory Board, and active in many community organizations. She earned a bachelor’s and law degree from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree in history from U.Va.

“We are profoundly grateful to Barbara for her support of EV,” said Rob Vaughan, founding president of VFH. “Her generosity and long-term commitment is allowing this important resource to expand and thrive with a sustainable future, meaning that Virginians of all ages, and many others worldwide, will explore Virginia’s unique history and culture in the highest quality way.”

We are honored to be the beneficiary of such generosity and leadership and eager to put the funds to good use – Matthew Gibson

This significant contribution follows Fried’s previous giving of more than $500,000 to EV since 2005. “It’s essential for our citizens to have access to reliable information about Virginia, so that we can understand our past and shape a more promising future,” Fried said. “With the expertise and drive of EV’s staff, the commitment of the VFH Board, and the organization’s unique position as the largest and most diverse of all state humanities councils, we have the capacity to educate and inspire millions of people with this dynamic resource.”

EV publishes topical and biographical entries written by scholars, edited for a general audience, and vigorously fact checked. Content creation is a work in progress, with more than 900 entries currently live on the site and new entries published regularly. EV also features more than 500 primary documents and numerous media objects, including images, audio and visual clips, and links to Google Street View tours of historic sites.

We are profoundly grateful to Barbara for her support of EV – Rob Vaughan

One of the only humanities projects using Google Street View technology, EV currently offers thirteen virtual tours of sites such as Poplar Forest, Montpelier, Bacon’s Castle, Patrick Henry’s Scotchtown, and Menokin, with more in the works. In August, EV staff will host a summit at VFH to train other Virginia humanities organizations, including museums and historic sites, to use this technology to advance their missions and reach broader audiences.

Thousands of teachers and students benefit from EV’s high-quality and accessible primary sources, innovative pedagogy, and history scholarship, earning the encyclopedia the Virginia Council of the Social Studies’ Friend of Education award in October 2014.

“Barbara’s support opens up a world of future possibilities for the encyclopedia,” said Matthew Gibson, EV’s editor. “We are honored to be the beneficiary of such generosity and leadership and eager to put the funds to good use. As a result of this gift, many more people will make connections and discoveries around the ideas, individuals, and events that continue to shape the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Brief History of EV

In 2001, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded VFH a grant to study the feasibility of creating a comprehensive online resource on the history and culture of Virginia. After years of consulting with similar ventures, fund-raising, and infrastructure- and partnership-building, EV published its first entries late in 2008.

In 2012, the project partnered with the Library of Virginia to become the digital publisher of the Library’s ongoing, multivolume Dictionary of Virginia Biography, one of the most authoritative resources on Virginia history ever published. That same year, and in collaboration with the Virginia Indian Heritage Programs at VFH, EV created the Virginia Indian Archive, a repository of images, documents, and audiovisual resources related to the history and cultural experience of Virginia Indians since the colonial period. With increased financial support and readership, EV continually expands and serves as an essential resource for connection and discovery in the Commonwealth.