American Panorama is “an historical atlas of the United States for the twenty-first century,” bringing together a variety of geospatial and data visualization methods to create interactive maps of American historical data. Parameters sat down with the editors of the project, Robert K. Nelson and Edward L. Ayers, to talk about their experience with creating Panorama, as well as the journey from early digital history projects—like Ayers’s 1993 The Valley of the Shadow—to current methodologies and the future of digital scholarship.
Edward Ayers is president emeritus of the University of Richmond, where he now serves as Tucker-Boatwright professor of the humanities. Previously dean of arts and sciences at the University of Virginia, where he began teaching in 1980, Ayers was named the National Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2003. A historian of the American South, Ayers has written and edited 10 books. The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In the Presence of Mine Enemies: Civil War in the Heart of America won the Bancroft Prize for distinguished writing in American history and the Beveridge Prize for the best book in English on the history of the Americas since 1492. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2013.