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Society of Architectural Historians and UVA Press Launch Open-Access SAH Archipedia
Historic Preservation Blog from -
Contributed By: Society of Architectural Historians (SAH)
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A newly designed, open-access edition of SAH Archipedia, an online encyclopedia that tells the history of the U.S. through its structures and places, is now freely available to the public.

The Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) and University of Virginia Press (UVA Press) are pleased to announce a new open-access, mobile-friendly edition of SAH Archipedia, an authoritative online encyclopedia of the built environment of the United States developed by SAH and Rotunda, the Press’s digital imprint, with lead funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities: The newly redesigned SAH Archipedia brings peer-reviewed scholarship to a worldwide audience of researchers, students, teachers, preservation advocates, cultural tourists and others interested in learning more about the architectural history of the U.S.

SAH Archipedia contains histories, photographs and maps for over 20,000 structures and places, and showcases the richness and diversity of architecture and landscapes throughout the U.S. Building entries include scholar-written, peer-reviewed narrative histories, photographs, precise geospatial coordinates using Google Maps/OpenStreetMap, and structural and descriptive metadata that includes semantic tags for architects and firms, periods, styles, materials and types.

SAH Editor Gabrielle Esperdy said, “For me, one of the most exciting parts of the new SAH Archipedia is something most users will never see: the back end of the website. This isn’t just a powerful content management system, it is a true authoring platform that has the potential to foster new forms of scholarly collaboration and makes it easier to create curated collections of entries, such as the buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright or automobile service stations or showrooms.”

SAH Archipedia originally launched in 2012 with 8,500 building entries and content drawn from the Society’s Buildings of the United States (BUS) books, an award-winning series of volumes on U.S. architecture compiled and written on a state-by-state basis. Histories and thematic essays from all the published BUS print volumes have been included in SAH Archipedia, which continues to grow with the addition of new peer-reviewed born-digital content and as new BUS volumes are completed. SAH Archipediareached a milestone in 2017 with content representing all 50 states. In addition to building entries, SAH Archipedia includes place-based and thematic essays, comprised of peer-reviewed scholarship contributed by architectural historians nationwide, and lesson plans designed for K-12 educators. In the coming years, SAH plans to expand the scope of the project to include global content.

“Back in 1994, Claude Conyers, Oxford University Press’s commissioning editor for the Buildings of the United States, envisioned a distant future when the series would encompass all 50 states, first in print and then digitally,” said Mark Mones, formerly managing editor of scholarly reference at OUP and currently senior editor, BUS/SAH Archipedia at UVA Press. “Little could he have imagined the trail we’re blazing today, using a dynamic reference platform to create, edit and publish definitive scholarship online and on the page for a wide variety of readers.”

SAH Executive Director Pauline Saliga stated, “We are greatly indebted to the hundreds of BUS and SAH Archipedia contributors—scholars, architects, preservationists and students—whose original research and writing are the foundation of SAH Archipedia. In addition, without the expertise of editors, peer reviewers and software technologists, a publication of this complexity and authoritative voice would not have been possible. We are pleased to launch the mobile-friendly edition of SAH Archipedia open access, for the benefit of all who share a passion for the history of the built environment.”

Development of SAH Archipedia has been made possible by lead support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, an independent federal agency, as well as major gifts from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Ongoing support is provided by the Society of Architectural Historians, its members, University of Virginia Press, foundations and individuals. Visit for a complete list of donors.

Posted: October 1, 2019
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