Publication Date

December 1, 2008

The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities has announced that its newly formed service provider, Documents Compass, has received a $327,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create a prosopographic database to be called People of the Founding Era (PFE). The grant will allow Documents Compass to explore the feasibility of creating and classifying a digital collection of biographical information about individuals who played roles in the founding of America. The database is expected to become a resource for scholars of the early American history. It will include native-born and naturalized Americans born between the end of Queen Anne’s War (1713) and the Napoleonic Wars (1815)—and their children and grandchildren—and will be grounded in the existing documentary editions of the past half century. It will begin by working with the Papers of the Founding Fathers and the Dolley Madison Digital Edition.

The PFE will be one of the earliest electronic prosopographies of the modern times. It will enable scholars to explore individual biographies or of select groups of people, making it a crucial research tool in fields as diverse as political history, local history, social history, demography, biography, institutional history, and genealogy.

Documents Compass (, established in January 2008 by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, is an intermediary resource for publishers and scholar-editors. Created to help plan and develop documentary editions, the service locates, develops, and employs the tools best suited to each project’s needs, and facilitates transcribing, proofreading, tagging, and copyediting.

The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities announced the new organization in August. Rob Vaughan, president of the Virginia Foundation, is enthusiastic about the project’s potential to transform and streamline digital editing. “We are excited to host Documents Compass,” Vaughan said. “The time is right to create such an organization. Clearly the Mellon Foundation agrees.”

—Based on press release from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Attribution must provide author name, article title, Perspectives on History, date of publication, and a link to this page. This license applies only to the article, not to text or images used here by permission.