1007 W Nevada
Urbana, IL 61801
Orville Vernon Burton is the inaugural Judge Matthew J. Perry Distinguished Chair of History and Professor of Pan-African Studies, Sociology and Anthropology, and Computer Science at Clemson University. He directed the Clemson CyberInstitute from 2010 to 2016. In 2022 Burton received the Clemson University Alumni Award for Outstanding Achievements in Research; in 2018, he was part of the initial University Research, Scholarship and Artistic Achievement Award group of scholars. In 2016 Burton received the College of Architecture, Art, and Humanities Dean’s Award for “Excellence in Research” and in 2019 the College’s award for “Outstanding Achievement in Service.” From 2008-2010, he was the Burroughs Distinguished Professor of Southern History and Culture at Coastal Carolina University. He was the founding Director of the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Science at the University of Illinois, where he is emeritus University Distinguished Teacher/Scholar, and Professor of History, African American Studies, and Sociology. At the University of Illinois, he continues as a Senior Research Scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications where he served as Associate Director for Humanities and Social Sciences from 2002-2010. He serves as Executive Director of the College of Charleston’s Low Country and Atlantic World Program; in 2022 the program honored Burton by designating the best conference paper given annually, the Vernon Burton Research Award. Burton served as interim chair, and then vice-chair of the Board of Directors of the Congressional National Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, 2009-2017. In 2007 the Illinois State legislature honored him with a special resolution for his contributions as a scholar, teacher, and citizen of Illinois. A recognized authority on race relations, Burton is often called upon as an expert witness in discrimination and voting rights cases throughout the United States.
Burton is a prolific author and scholar (more than twenty authored or edited books and nearly three hundred articles) and author or director of numerous digital humanities projects. The Age of Lincoln (2007) won the Chicago Tribune Heartland Literary Award for Nonfiction and was selected for Book of the Month Club, History Book Club, and Military Book Club. One reviewer proclaimed, “If the Civil War era was America's ‘Iliad,’ then historian Orville Vernon Burton is our latest Homer.” The book was featured at sessions of the annual meetings of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the Social Science History Association, and the Southern Intellectual History Circle; the latter was the basis for a forum published in The Journal of the Historical Society. His most recent book, Justice Deferred: Race and the Supreme Court (Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2021), co-authored with Armand Derfner, was deemed “authoritative and highly readable” by reviewer Randall Kennedy of Harvard University Law School in The Nation. The book has been featured at sessions of the 2021 Social Science History Association and the 2022 Midwestern Political Science Association, and is scheduled for the upcoming meetings of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the American Historical Association, and the Organization of American Historians. In My Father’s House Are Many Mansions: Family and Community in Edgefield, South Carolina (1985) was featured at sessions of the Southern Historical Association and the Social Science History Association annual meetings. C. Vann Woodward in the New York Review of Books pronounced In My Father’s House “A highly quantified, computerized, and methodologically sophisticated study. For thoroughness and comprehensiveness, it rivals, if iit does not exceed, any historical investigation of an American community.” Justice Deferred, The Age of Lincoln, and In My Father’s House were nominated for Pulitzers.
Recognized for his teaching, Burton was selected nationwide as the 1999 U.S. Research and Doctoral University Professor of the Year (presented by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education). In 2004 he received the American Historical Association’s Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Prize. At the University of Illinois, he won teaching awards at the department, school, college, and campus levels. He was the recipient of the 2001-2002 Graduate College Outstanding Mentor Award and received the 2006 Campus Award for Excellence in Public Engagement. He was appointed an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer for 2004-24. He has served as president of the Southern Historical Association and of the Agricultural History Society. He was elected to honorary life membership in BrANCH (British American Nineteenth-Century Historians). Among his honors are fellowships and grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Pew Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the National Humanities Center, the U.S. Department of Education, National Park Service, and the Carnegie Foundation. He was a Pew National Fellow Carnegie Scholar for 2000-2001. He was elected to the Society of American Historians and was one of ten historians selected to contribute to the Presidential Inaugural Portfolio (January 21, 2013) by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Burton was elected into the S.C. Academy of Authors in 2015, and in 2017 he received the Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities from the South Carolina Humanities Council, and in 2021 he was awarded the Benjamin E. Mays Legacy Award. In 2022 he was appointed to the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission.
U.S. South, American South, Digital History, Race Relations
Current interests focus on race and U.S. law. He continues to research the American South, focusing on the idea of community and family. A special research interest is the intersection between the social sciences and humanities and the developing field of digital history.
High School, Public High School, Ninety-Six, SC, 1965
B.A., Furman University, 1969
Ph.D., Princeton University, 1976
- National Science Foundation (NSF), GK-12; Ed Grid Graduate Teaching Fellows Program
- Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, "Lincoln's 'Unfinished Work:' Conference on The South and Race"
- National Parks Service, "Administrative Histories of Fort Sumter National Monument and Charles Pinckney National Historic Site"
- National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Challenge Grant for Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts, and Social Scienc
- American Council of Learned Societies
- National Archives Record Administration Grant for Digital Records
- Andrew Carnegie Foundation
- Ford Foundation Grant
- Rockefeller Humanities Fellowship
- Pew-Lilly Foundation
Awards and Honors
- U.S. Professor of the Year, Outstanding Research and Doctoral Universities Professor (Council for Advancement and Support of Education and Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching), 1999
- American Historical Association Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Prize, 2004
- Chicago Tribune's Heartland 2007 Literary Award for Nonfiction for The Age of LIncoln
- Illinois House Resolution of Congratulations, HR 0711, 2007. (The Illinois State legislature passed a special resolution acknowledging my contributions as a scholar, teacher, and citizen of Illinois.)
- Society of American Historians
- President, Southern Historical Association, 2011-2012
- President, Agricultural History Society, 2001-2002
- Campus Award for Excellence in Public Engagement
- Graduate College Outstanding Mentoring Award
- All-Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching
- LAS Dean's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching
- South Carolina Governor's Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities, presented by the SC Humanities Council, 2017 (selected in 2016)
- South Carolina Academy of Authors
- Inaugural Class 2018 University Research Scholarship and Artistic Achievement Award, Clemson University
- College of Architecture, Art, and Humanities (CAAH), Dean's Award for "Outstanding Service," 2019, Clemson University
- CAAH, Dean's Award for "Excellence in Research," 2016, Clemson University
- Justice Deferred: Race and the Supreme Court (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2021)
- Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie Historical Park, Charleston, SC, Administrative History (Washington, D.C.: The National Park Service, 2020)
- Penn Center: A History Preserved (Athens: UGA Press, 2014)
- The Age of Lincoln (New York: Hill & Wang, 2007)
- "A Gentleman and and Officer:" A Military and Social History of James B. Griffin's Civil War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996)
- In My Father's House Are Many Mansions: Family and Community in Edgefield, South Carolina (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1985)
- "'The South as Other, The Southerner as Stranger:' Presidential Address for the Southern Historical Association," The Journal of Southern History 79, no. 1 (February 2013): 7-50.
- "Reaping What We Sow: Community and Rural History," Agricultural History 76, no. 4 (Autumn 2002): 631-658.
- "Presidential Inaugural Portfolio," Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, January 21, 2013, Book Chapter.