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Library gets $300,000 grant from foundation

By Clara B. Cox

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 02 - September 5, 1996

The George R. Wallace Foundation, a private foundation located in Boston, has awarded Virginia Tech's University Libraries a $300,000 grant to enhance and support special collections, particularly the Civil War collections and other materials associated with Virginia's rich historical legacy. The grant will be paid over a period of five years.

"We are delighted to have the grant for enriching our collections and making them more accessible," said Eileen Hitchingham, dean of university libraries.

Two-thirds of the grant-$200,000-will create an endowment to repair and preserve important historical documents, to maintain special collections, and to permit scholars greater accessibility to the collections, mainly by using modern technologies.

The remaining one-third of the grant-$100,000-will provide funds for the library to purchase important Civil War documents and historical documents related to Virginia's history and to add materials to other special collections. The library already houses one of the nation's top Civil War collections.

According to Hitchingham, modern technologies could make the Civil War documents-and other collections-readily available to historians and the general public, but the library, hit with budget cuts by the state, has not had adequate funds to pursue these methods of access to the materials. "This grant will allow us to begin putting some of our Civil War documents on the Internet, where they can be accessed throughout the world," she said.

John Grado Jr., a trustee of the Wallace Foundation and an alumnus of Virginia Tech, urged the university to pursue the grant after attending the university's annual Civil War Weekend. This event features lectures and site visits arranged by the university's noted Civil War historian and University Distinguished Professor, James I. "Bud" Robertson Jr.

Robertson, a noted author of numerous books on the Civil War, has played a key role in the effort to enhance the Civil War collection at Newman Library.