RRCHNM Receives Grant in Collaboration with Fairfax City’s Office of Historic Resources at Historic Blenheim and Brandy Station Foundation for Digitization of Civil War Graffiti

The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM), in collaboration with Historic Blenheim and the Civil War Interpretive Center (Fairfax City, VA) and the Brandy Station Foundation (Brandy Station, VA), has been awarded a $60,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Division for Preservation and Access, Humanities Collections and Reference Resources

This planning grant will facilitate collaboration between the three partners for the planning of a digitization project focused on Civil War graffiti found in Civil War buildings located in Virginia and elsewhere. The grant will also facilitate the development of collaborative workflows between the three organizations and digital preservation professionals.

Mills Kelly, Executive Director of RRCHNM and project manager stressed the importance of the collaborative nature of the grant. “As a research center at a public research university we are so pleased to be collaborating with our two community partners in Fairfax and Culpeper. We see this project as a first and important step toward building stronger linkages between our three organizations that will benefit our students and the communities we serve.”

Off the Wall: Digital Preservation of Civil War Graffiti Houses, will develop a proposal for an eventual implementation grant aimed at digitizing and contextualizing the graffiti and associated ancillary materials held by Historic Blenheim and the Brandy Station Foundation related to the graffiti in their two historic house museums. Working with R.B. Toth Associates LLC, this grant will use a range of digital imaging technology and work processes to capture the graffiti on the walls of Historic Blenheim and the Graffiti House at Brandy Station, and develop a metadata schema that will allow for the digitization and contextualization of the graffiti. This schema will serve as a model for future digitization projects of images on vertical surfaces. 

Historic Blenheim and the Civil War Interpretive Center is a public historic site owned and operated by the City of Fairfax, Virginia, on 12 acres of land.  The c. 1859 Greek-Revival-style brick house is known for the quantity and quality of  Federal soldier signatures, pictographs, and thoughts preserved on the attic and house walls.  The common soldier, the Willcoxon family ownership and the enslaved people of African descent owned by the family are interpreted.The Civil War Interpretive Center Gallery extends the house and land interpretation with a  replica of the house attic and additional exhibits.  Visit https://www.fairfaxva.gov/government/historic-resources/historic-blenheim for hours, programs and events.

The Brandy Station Foundation is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) all-volunteer community organization dedicated to preserving the natural and historic resources of the Brandy Station area of Culpeper County. The BSF relies on tax-deductible donations and volunteers to meet its goals. While the Foundation’s focus is toward the Civil War history of the Brandy Station vicinity, its efforts are not limited to that time period. The Foundation website is www.brandystationfoundation.com.

R.B. Toth Associates LLC, based in Oakton, Virginia, provides digitization services and application of new technologies for cultural heritage preservation and research around the globe.  They conducted multispectral imaging of both Civil War houses as part of a National Park Service technology development grant. More information at rbtoth.com.


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