VAF and UVa Initiate Mellon-funded African American Fieldwork Program

20 Mar 2021 11:30 AM | Christine R Henry

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has generously awarded funding to the Vernacular Architecture Forum and the University of Virginia to sponsor and support summer field schools that will focus on African American places and engage Black communities, scholars, and students. VAF President Claire Dempsey had formed a committee to work with UVa’s principal investigator Louis Nelson to develop the format and goals of the program. The committee currently includes Carl Lounsbury, Kim Hoagland, Niya Bates, and Jim Buckley in addition to Claire and Louis, with additional members to be an announced. The group hopes to complete the initial application materials for distribution on the VAF website this Spring and select the first field school site in Fall 2021 in time for an initial fieldwork session in Summer 2022.

VAF anticipates working with three different field school teams at three different African American historical sites over the summers of 2022-2025. Each site will run two 3- or 4-week sessions spread over two summers, and the teams will work with VAF and UVa as sponsors to select a diverse cohort of field school participants from both national and local sources. Field school students will not need to have previous experience in vernacular field work, as participants will be trained in and carry out a variety of recording techniques, including traditional hand measuring, high tech imaging, and ethnographic methods.

Please spread the word about this fabulous opportunity to help us increase our diversity and broaden our knowledge about African American vernacular sites! For more information about this program, contact Louis Nelson at

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