Scholar Sessions: Dr. Vernon Burton and Dr. Edna Greene Medford

About this Event

Join President Lincoln’s Cottage for our virtual, members-only event, “Scholar Sessions.” In this private event, hosted via Zoom, President Lincoln’s Cottage members will learn directly from a scholar and then have an opportunity for a one-on-one Q&A. Click here to become a member, then register here.

Our August Scholar Session will feature Dr. Vernon Burton and Dr. Edna Greene Medford who will discuss Confederate iconography, monuments, and memorials. This will be a follow up to their 2015 conversation on the topic, a transcript of which can be found here.

Program Logistics

The day before the program, President Lincoln’s Cottage will send you an email with a link to join the videoconference via Zoom. Click the link or copy and past the web address into a browser of your choice to join the meeting. You may be prompted to download Zoom, which will take just a few moments to complete.

You will need a computer with a decent internet connection, equipped with a webcam and a microphone. Most laptops come with a camera and microphone built in. You can test your audio and video settings ahead of time if you would like.

Contact President Lincoln’s Cottage with any questions at

Full Scholar Bios

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, and the Director of the Clemson CyberInstitute. From 2013-2015 he was Creativity Professor of Humanities; in 2016 Burton received the College of Architecture, Art, and Humanities (CAAH) Dean’s Award for “Excellence in Research” and in 2019 the College’s award for “Outstanding Achievement in Service.” In 2018, he received the initial University Research, Scholarship and Artistic Achievement Award. 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 (ICHASS) at the University of Illinois, where he is emeritus University Distinguished Teacher/Scholar, University Scholar, and Professor of History, African American Studies, and Sociology. At the University of Illinois, he continues to chair the I-CHASS advisory board and is also a Senior Research Scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) 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 (CLAW). Burton served as 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 expert on race relations and the American South, and a leader in Digital Humanities, Burton is often invited to present lectures, conduct workshops, and consult with colleges, universities, and granting agencies.

Burton is a prolific author and scholar (twenty authored or edited books and more than two 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 African American History and Life Association, the Social Science History Association, the Southern Intellectual History Circle, and the latter was the basis for a forum published in The Journal of the Historical Society. His 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. The Age of Lincoln and In My Fathers’ House were nominated for Pulitzers. His most recent book, is Penn Center: A History Preserved (2014)

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 by 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 2004-20.

Burton’s research and teaching interests are American history, with a particular focus on the American South, including race relations and community, and the intersection of humanities and social science. 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 received the Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities from the South Carolina Humanities Council.

Edna Greene Medford, Ph.D. is Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs and Professor of History at Howard University. She has been affiliated with the university for over 30 years. Medford has also held several administrative positions at Howard, including director of both the History Department undergraduate and graduate programs, chairperson of the Department, and interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (the university’s largest college).

Medford grew up in a rural community in segregated Virginia. She received her undergraduate degree in Secondary Education (with a history emphasis) from Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Virginia. Both graduate degrees were in United States history and were earned at the University of Illinois at Urbana (M.A.) and the University of Maryland, College Park (Ph.D.).

Professor Medford has authored, co-authored, or edited three books and numerous scholarly articles and chapters on slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. Her publications include Lincoln and Emancipation (2015); The Emancipation Proclamation: Three Views (with Harold Holzer and Frank Williams in 2006); and Historical Perspectives of the African Burial Ground Project: New York Blacks and the Diaspora (2009), which she edited. A fourth book, The Price of Freedom (two volumes), is an anthology of literature on the Civil War era.

Medford serves on several national advisory boards. Among them are the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (where she is a second- term member of the Executive Council), the Lincoln Forum (Executive Committee), the Board of Trustees of the New York Historical Society, and the Lincoln Leadership and Policy Institute of Lincoln Memorial University.

Professor Medford is a frequent contributor to historical programs and documentaries produced for cable and network television viewing. Most recently, she contributed to the documentary “Reconstruction: America After the Civil War,” “Tell Them We are Rising,” and C-SPAN’s documentary on Landmark Cases and “The Senate: Conflict and Compromise.

Medford is the recipient of awards from a variety of community groups and academic institutions. She was awarded one of the special bicentennial editions of the “Order of Lincoln,” given by the state of Illinois in 2009 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth; the Lincoln Diploma of Honor, awarded by Lincoln Memorial University in 2014; an Alumni Achievement Award from the College of Liberal Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana in 2013; the Professor of the Year Award from the Howard University Student Association in 2013; the Lincoln Legacy Award from the Lincoln Society of Peekskill, New York in 2017; and the Howard University Outstanding Full Professor of the Year Award for the Social Sciences Division, College of Arts and Sciences in 2018.

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