Bios: Presenters

Find below professional biographical information on the four esteemed individuals who will make presentations at the Sustaining Digital History meeting. Their presentation title immediately follows their name.

Anne Sarah Rubin (Authoring Digital Scholarship:  Challenges and Opportunities) is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her book A Shattered Nation: The Rise and Fall of the Confederacy (UNC, 2005) received the 2006 Avery O. Craven Award from the Organization of American Historians, for the most original book on the Civil War era. She was a co-author of the award-winning Valley of the Shadow, an interactive history of the Civil War in two communities. She is currently working on a multi-media study of the memory of Sherman’s March, entitled Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman’s March and America, for which she received a 2007 ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship.  Her website can be found at

Abby Smith Rumsey (Insights from the Scholarly Communication Institute) is a historian and consulting analyst with special interest in the creation, preservation, and use of the cultural record in a variety of media; the impact of digital information technologies on cultural heritage institutions; and the evolving role of information as a public good. She is director of the Scholarly Communication Institute at the University of Virginia. She works with the Library of Congress’s National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) in development of its national strategy to identify, collect, and preserve digital content of long-term value. And she is a member of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access, serving in addition as the senior writer and editor for the task force’s final report. She has served as an advisor to the ACLS Commission on the Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Previously she worked as director of programs at the Council on Library and Information Resources in Washington, DC; and at the Library of Congress managing programs relating to preservation of and access to cultural heritage collections. She holds a doctoral degree in Russian history from Harvard University and has taught at Harvard and Johns Hopkins Universities. She has published widely on cultural heritage, preservation, and scholarship in the digital age.

Michael Spinella (JSTOR’s Role in the Changing World of Scholarly Communication) is the Executive Vice President for Global Content Alliances at ITHAKA and serves as the managing director of JSTOR.  He is responsible for the strategic direction and coordination of the Current Scholarship Program, an effort initiated by JSTOR and University of California Press to make current and historical scholarly content available on a single, integrated platform.  Prior to working at JSTOR, Spinella served for twelve years as the Director of Membership and Meetings for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) as well as the Circulation Director for the AAAS journal, Science.  During this time, one of his responsibilities was developing the initial business model for Science online personal and site-wide licenses.  He holds a Master of Business Administration degree from The George Washington University, a Master of Arts degree in Literature from the University of Virginia, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of William and Mary.

Robert B. Townsend (AHA’s Perspective on the Changing World of Scholarly Communication) is the Assistant Director for Research and Publications at the American Historical Association, where he serves as senior staff assistant to the Association’s Research Division, maintains databases and statistics on the historical profession in the U.S., and oversees print and online publications produced at the AHA headquarters office. He is the author or co-author of over 200 articles on various aspects of history, higher education, and electronic publishing in Perspectives on HistoryAHA Today, Chronicle Review, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Resource Center. He received his PhD from George Mason University in 2009, and is currently revising his dissertation under the working title “Making History: Scholarship and Professionalization in the Discipline, 1880–1940.”

Bios: Project Directors

With the Sustaining Digital History meeting fast approaching (October 1, 2010 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln), the next three blog entries will introduce the primary participants and staff of this initiative by providing professional biographical information. Up first are the folks from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL).

Douglas Seefeldt, the Director of Sustaining Digital History, is an Assistant Professor of History and Faculty Fellow at the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at UNL. He teaches 20th-century U.S. history and specializes in the North American West, Environmental History and Digital History. He took his Ph.D. From Arizona State University in 2001 and spent three years at the University of Virginia as a Woodrow Wilson Academic Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at the Virginia Center for Digital History and Media Studies Program and the last two of those as the Director of UVa’s Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Project. His published work, both print and digital, focuses on the intersections of landscape and memory in the American West. He is co-editor, with Jeffrey L. Hantman, and Peter S. Onuf, of the book of collected essays, Across the Continent: Jefferson, Lewis and Clark and the Making of America (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2005; paper, 2006). Doug has created the thematic digital archive project, Biddle Edition Archive (, and most recently the digital history project, Envisaging the West: Thomas Jefferson and the Roots of Lewis and Clark ( Seefeldt has recently returned his attention to the mid-nineteenth-century Mormon frontier and resumed work on a thematic digital archive project titled “Horrible Massacre of Emigrants!!”: The Mountain Meadows Massacre in Public Discourse (, and is currently working on a book manuscript titled “’Let the Book of the Past Be Closed’: The Mountain Meadows Massacre and Public Memory.”

William G. Thomas, III, the Co-Director of Sustaining Digital History, is the John and Catherine Angle Chair in the Humanities and Professor of History at UNL. He teaches 19th-century U.S. history and specializes in Civil War, the U.S. South, and in Digital History. He earned his Ph.D. in History at the University of Virginia. From 1998 to 2005 he served as the founding Director of the Virginia Center for Digital History at the University of Virginia. He was the Project Manager of The Valley of the Shadow project at the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at U.Va. from 1996 to 1998. Thomas is a Lincoln Prize Laureate in 2001 from the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College for the Valley of the Shadow project ( with Edward L. Ayers and Anne S. Rubin, and with them was awarded the James Harvey Robinson Prize from the American Historical Association in recognition of the project as an outstanding contribution to the teaching of history. Thomas has recently been awarded a Digital Innovation Fellowship in 2008 from the American Council of Learned Societies. He was awarded a fellowship from the British Association of American Studies for 2008-09 and was the Visiting Professor of North American Studies at the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library. He is currently working on a book titled “The Civil War and the Making of Modern America” (Yale University Press) and a digital project on “Railroads and the Making of Modern America,” a web-delivered set of sources on railroads, technologies, culture, and social change (

Brent M. Rogers, the Graduate Assistant on Sustaining Digital History, is a Ph.D. Candidate in 19th Century U.S. History specializing in the American West at UNL. Rogers holds a B.A. in History from San Diego State University and an M.A. in History from California State University, Sacramento. He is currently working on a dissertation titled, “Crossroads of the Antebellum West:  Popular Sovereignty, Federal Power, American Imperial Ideology, and Utah Territory in the 1850s.” Rogers has been awarded research grants from the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies and the Center for Great Plains Studies to support his dissertation work. Recently, Rogers served as a digital editor on the Papers of William F. Cody project and in this capacity produced a work of digital scholarship titled Buffalo Bill, Rough Riders, and the Manly Image.  He also served as a research associate on Nebraska Newspapers: Digitizing Nebraska’s History and has worked on Digital History.

Come See the Future of Digital Humanities in 46 Quick Bursts

Douglas Seefeldt, the Project Director for Sustaining Digital History, is in Washington D.C. for the 2010 NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant project director’s meeting. Here is the press release from NEH with the meeting agenda and lightning round presentation schedule.  Professor Seefeldt will present on Sustaining Digital History in the quick burst format where he will have two minutes and three PowerPoint slides to introduce and explain the project to the public. These presentations will be video-recorded and disseminated on the web.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime, you can view the three PowerPoint slides from Professor Seefeldt’s presentation below.

Sustaining Digital History: Purpose Statement

“The Web revolution isn’t simply about electronic publishing, it’s about interactive multimedia publishing”                                                                                            – The Atlantic online, “Digital Culture – The Next Dimension,” (July 1997)

“The matter won’t become clear, one way or the other, until we undertake to design and implement a working model.”                                                                                – Jerome McGann, “The Future is Digital,” (Spring 2008)

Sustaining Digital History is an eighteen-month grant-funded initiative to build a scholarly community for the practice of the emerging field of digital history by enhancing communication and collaboration among scholars and journal editors. As historians explore what historical scholarship looks like in the digital medium, it becomes imperative to design and implement well-defined examples of digital scholarship, establish best practices, and, especially, determine clear standards of peer review for tenure and promotion. Without clear guidelines, few scholars will seriously engage with the increasingly important digital medium.

We can confront this challenge through Sustaining Digital History in the following ways:

  • By collaborating directly with scholars and journal editors to develop models for identifying, peer reviewing, and disseminating article length digital scholarship
  • By publishing, featuring, or recognizing digital historical scholarship in the profession’s leading journals, to encourage historians to develop more born digital scholarship and to further encourage and assist departments in evaluating this scholarship for promotion and tenure
  • By helping authors, reviewers, and editors negotiate a difficult transition in scholarly communication by distributing a working model, by expanding the conversation, and by extending the range and form of digital history work with an eye towards mainstreaming digital historical scholarship