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  • 16 Jan 2021 12:00 PM | Christine R Henry

    Welcome to the January 2021 issue of VAN.  If you want to jump to the entire newsletter on the website, you can use this link.  You will notice some changes, so I will use this letter to outline how VAN will be evolving over the next several months.  A dedicated committee has worked this past summer and fall to access. VAN and design a more useful and engaging newsletter as we all rely on digital communications more and more. 

    First of all, you will be getting the newsletter monthly, where eight times a year the focus is on short news items that include VAF business like calls for proposals, as well as information on upcoming conferences and other important information about our organization.  These issues will also include information about related events or opportunities called Community News, and the very popular section on Member News where we can share the work we are all doing in the field with publication announcements, research questions, speaking events, and  accomplishments. 

    On a quarterly basis there will be expanded editions of the newsletter that will include more images and longer feature articles including our notes from the field essays and the essential VAF bibliography.  Here is a link to our new publication schedule, though you will still be getting reminders to send in your contributions.  We will also be working to put more of our stories out on social media platforms, so look forward to seeing VAF all around the web!

    Included in this first issue of our monthly VAN you will find a call for the next VAN Editor and a team of two assistant editors.  There you will find more details about the plans for new and improved communications.  It has been my pleasure to serve as the VAN Editor since 2014 and I am equally happy to transition to a new editorial team to take the publication to new heights.  I hope you will consider applying or encouraging others to apply.  It is a great way to contribute to our wonderful community.

    I hope you enjoy this issue!


    VAN Editor

  • 16 Jan 2021 11:55 AM | Christine R Henry

    In 2021 VAN will move to a monthly publishing schedule to provide members with more timely news and an expanded quarterly edition (March, June, September, and December) that include feature articles, more images, and the bibliography.  Below is the new schedule, but don't worry, you will still get an email reminder to submit your content to the editor.

    Call for submissions            Submissions due                   Publication of VAN

    January 5                                  January 10                                January 16

    February 2                                February 7                                 February 13

    March 2                                     March 7                                     March 13

    April 6                                         April 11                                      April 17

    May 4                                         May 9                                         May 15

    June 1                                        June 6                                        June 12

    July 6                                         July 11                                       July 17

    August 3                                    August 8                                    August 14

    September 7                             September 12                           September 18

    October 5                                  October 10                                October 16

    November 2                              November 7                              November 13

    December  7                             December 12                            December 18

    If you have questions, please contact Christine Henry, VAN Editor.

  • 16 Jan 2021 11:50 AM | Christine R Henry

    January 2021

    VAF members and the Board were all thrilled to learn that we received a generous grant of $750,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, awarded in June to VAF and our partner the University of Virginia. The grant will support three field schools aimed at research on African American communities and landscapes and emphasizing community engagement. Each field school will run for two seasons, their starts staggered over three years.  We are thankful for Louis Nelson’s work in achieving this and agreeing to provide oversight and for assistance from the University going forward.

    Our first task was to establish the committee that would work out the details of the field school formats and the application process for potential directors and school programs.  Our initial committee includes Claire Dempsey, as VAF president, and Louis Nelson, for UVa, as co-chairs, as well as Jim Buckley, (president elect), Niya Bates, Kim Hoagland, and Carl Lounsbury. We plan to expand the committee with one or two more members in the weeks ahead.

    Early on, we realized that a critical decision we needed to review was whether we could meet the schedule contemplated by the grant application in light of the covid-19 pandemic. We elected to push the process back and Mellon agreed.  The whole operation will be moved back one year, and we are working to have the application process in place in mid-2021 for the first field school to take place in the summers of 2022 and 2023.  Two more field schools are scheduled to begin in 2023 and 2024.

    Finally, and most importantly, we are working to bring this opportunity to the attention of a broad and diverse community of scholars, practitioners, and potential students. We hope VAF members will contact Claire or other members of the committee if they are interested in directing or in participating in a field school and have skills and experience to offer this important endeavor. 

  • 16 Jan 2021 11:40 AM | Christine R Henry

    The Paul E. Buchanan Award recognizes contributions to the study and preservation of vernacular architecture and the cultural landscape that do not take the form of books or published work. Reports, documentation projects, restoration plans, National Register or local nominations, exhibits, video/digital media productions and similar reports and projects are eligible for recognition. This award honors the valuable work that many of our members and professional associates perform. For information on submission requirements, see Buchanan Award Page.

    The deadline for submissions is January 24, 2021.  

    Send nominations to buchananaward@vafweb.org 

    Questions, please contact  marianne.hurley@gmail.com

  • 16 Jan 2021 11:30 AM | Christine R Henry

    The 2021 Vernacular Architecture Forum annual on-site meeting scheduled for San Antonio, Texas, May 19-23, has been postponed to 2022 due to the Covid-19 health emergency. We are reissuing a Call for Papers to be presented remotely at a virtual conference to be held May 21 and May 22, 2021. Papers, posters, and other presentations may address topics relating to vernacular and everyday buildings, sites, or cultural landscapes worldwide and how people use these sites. Submissions on all relevant topics are welcome. 

    Applicants whose proposals are selected will receive timely instructions regarding how to prepare recordings for the conference. Presentations will be pre-recorded but will not be archived. Presenters should plan to attend live for introductions and questions during the actual days of the conference. Presenters must be VAF members at the time of the conference.


    Papers should be analytical rather than descriptive, and no more than twenty minutes in length. Proposals for complete sessions are welcome.  Proposals should clearly state the argument of the paper and explain the methodology and content in fewer than 400 words. Make sure to indicate if your proposal is being submitted as part of a complete session.  Please include the paper title, author’s name, email address, and a one-page c.v.  You may include up to two images with your submission. 

    Short Work-In-Progress report option: Applicants may elect to submit a proposal for a ten-minute report that summarizes scholarship in the early stages of the research process. Please follow the same guidelines as for the Papers, but indicate clearly at the top of the proposal "TEN MINUTE WORK IN PROGRESS."

    Submissions from 2020 and 2021: If your 2020 paper proposal for San Antonio was accepted and you did not participate in the virtual event after the conference postponement, you must resubmit if you wish to give a paper in 2021.  Also, if you already submitted a new proposal for 2021 before the previous deadline of November 10, you may elect to revise and resubmit for the new deadline.


    We also encourage proposals for presentations that fall outside the format of the traditional 20-minute paper. Describe your idea in 400 words or less. Please include the title, your name, email address, and one-page c. v. You may include up to two images with your submission.  Please submit to the papers committee.


    The proposals should be emailed as a PDF attachment to the papers committee. All proposals received will be acknowledged. If you do not receive an acknowledgement of receipt of your paper within one week of its submission, please contact Papers Committee chair Sally McMurry.


    The VAF virtual conference also will host the annual poster session to showcase recently completed research and works-in-progress. Students and emerging scholars are particularly encouraged to submit. The poster proposal may address any topic relating to vernacular and everyday buildings, sites, or cultural landscapes worldwide as described in the first paragraph of this document. Proposals should include a title, proposal (no more than 200 words), and a one-page c.v. If you have any questions about the posters session, please contact Posters Committee chair Phil Gruen.

    If your 2020 poster proposal for San Antonio was accepted and you did not participate in the virtual event after the conference postponement, you must resubmit if you wish to present a poster in 2021. Also, if you already submitted a new proposal for 2021 before November 10, you may elect to revise and resubmit for the new deadline.


    The proposals and c.v. should be emailed as a PDF attachment to the posters committee. All proposals received will be acknowledged.  If you do not receive an acknowledgement of receipt of your poster within one week of its submission, please contact Posters Committee chair Phil Gruen.

    GENERAL INFORMATION: For general information about the San Antonio conference, please visit the VAF website or contact Michelle Weaver Jones, VAF Conference Planner.

  • 16 Jan 2021 11:20 AM | Christine R Henry

    Does your work contribute to the study of vernacular architecture and cultural landscapes?  Have you published a scholarly article on the subject in the last two years? You may be eligible for the Bishir Prize.

    The Bishir Prize, named for longtime member and influential scholar Catherine W. Bishir, is awarded annually to the scholarly article from a juried North American publication that has made the most significant contribution to the study of vernacular architecture and cultural landscapes. Articles should be based on primary research, break new ground in interpretation or methodology, and contribute to the intellectual vitality of these fields. Entries may come from any discipline concerned with vernacular architecture studies.

    Please note that essays published as chapters in a book are also eligible if the volume is peer-reviewed, published within the time parameters specified, and the research presented in the essay is new. Anthologized collections are not eligible.

    Articles published January 1st 2019 or later will be eligible for nomination. The deadline for nominations for the 2021 Catherine W. Bishir Prize is February 1, 2021.

    To nominate an article please submit the following: MS Word document providing contact information, publication data (name of book publishing company or title of journal, and date of publication), and a brief statement contextualizing the author(s) and article.  PDF copy of the published article including illustrations.

    Nomination materials should be submitted to the Catherine W. Bishir Prize Committee at bishirprize@vafweb.org

  • 16 Jan 2021 11:10 AM | Christine R Henry

    The Vernacular Architecture Forum (VAF) solicits letters of interest to serve as part of its Vernacular Architecture Newsletter (VAN) team of editors.  The newsletter currently has openings for 1) VAN Editor; 2) Assistant Editor for News; and 3) Assistant Editor for Features. This will be an exciting opportunity to contribute to our VAF community and help VAN transition to a dynamic new format.

    In a time of social distancing, digital communications are even more essential for keeping VAF members in touch and current.  In recent months, an ad hoc committee has reviewed the current state of VAN and envisioned ways VAN can be redesigned and restructured to be more useful for our members, more easily integrate with all our digital communication channels, and bring in new generations to VAF.  The VAF Board has approved a plan to increase VAN’s publication schedule from quarterly to monthly and to add two Assistant Editors to share the work of producing the newsletter.

    Publication every month, with set deadlines for submission and publication, will improve communication and alleviate the uncertainty of publication.  Going forward, information that comes to VAN editors will be immediately posted in one of four blogs on the website, currently planned to cover VAF business, other business, member news, and features. A monthly digest of blog posts will be sent to members as VAN, with expanded visual and narrative content on a quarterly basis. Eight times a year, the newsletter will be mostly text and will include news and information items from the VAF.  Four times a year, the newsletter will have more images, longer features, the bibliography, and any news items.

    Undertaking this work will be three editors. The VAN Editor will oversee the Assistant Editors and the collection, editing, and publishing of VAN eight times per year.  The VAN Editor serves a three-year term and is also a member of the VAF Board.  The Assistant Editor for Features will solicit and edit longer articles, works with the bibliographer, and oversee the collection, editing, and publishing of VAN four times per year. The Assistant Editor for News will edit/adapt and sends content to social media, coordinating with web editor.  The Assistant Editors will first serve a one or two year term to establish a rotation for the three positions and will then be eligible for a three year term.  The Assistant Editors will not serve on the Board. The plan is for the new VAN Editor to join the selection committee to select the Assistant Editors.  All editors will begin their terms in spring 2021 by shadowing the current VAN editor, Christine Henry.

    To be considered for one of these VAN editorial positions, interested parties should send letters of interest and CVs/resumes (or any questions) to VAF President Claire Dempsey at dempseyc@bu.edu. Applicants should have knowledge of the VAF and its mission regarding the built environment; excellent writing, editing, and communication skills; and facility with social media. Past digital issues of VAN are available on the VAF website.

    Applications for VAN Editor are due by March 1, 2021.

    Applications for Assistant Editor for Features are due by April 1, 2021

    Applications for Assistant Editor for News are due by April 1, 2021

  • 16 Jan 2021 11:00 AM | Christine R Henry

    A reminder that Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum reviews article manuscripts on a rolling basis. The editors invite submissions to be considered for issue 29.1 (spring 2022) by March 15, 2021.

    For issue 29.1, the editors especially encourage Viewpoint, Object Lesson, or Research Note submissions that address the particular challenges and opportunities for scholarship, pedagogy, and historic preservation in the midst of an international pandemic and in response to the social unrest of 2020. These essays are usually 10-20 pages and include approximately 10 images. Complete author guidelines may be found here.

    The editors encourage submission of scholarly articles that integrate fieldwork and archival/primary source research into an original argument about the history of everyday buildings and/or landscapes. The editors particularly welcome submission of articles on topics related to the study of North American vernacular architecture or which otherwise broaden the context of North American architecture and cultural landscapes. Authors are urged to draw linkages between the physical aspects of the built environment they study and the people who create, consume, use, and inhabit it. If an author is unsure about a manuscript’s fit for the journal, they are encouraged to contact the editors in advance of a formal submission.

    Please contact the editors directly for inquiries or manuscript submissions: Lydia Mattice Brandt (lbrandt.usc@gmail.com), Michael Chiarappa (Michael.Chiarappa@quinnipiac.edu), and Carl Lounsbury (carllounsbury@gmail.com). Inquiries about reviews can be directed to the Review Editor: Rachel Leibowitz (leibowitz@esf.edu).

  • 16 Jan 2021 10:50 AM | Christine R Henry

    Payments by Credit Card: For many years, the VAF has used PayPal to process members’ payments by credit card for dues as well as conference registration. Over the last year, an increasing number of members have encountered problems when paying dues through PayPal. Consequently, as of January 1, 2021, VAF is changing our credit card payment gateway to Affinipay, a processor directly integrated with Wild Apricot, VAF’s membership software which also powers our website. With Affinipay, members should find it easier to manage their membership and register for conferences. Additionally, it will be simpler to solve any problems members may encounter because there will be only a single point of contact (rather than two points of contact with PayPal).

    Members can continue to make individual online payments, but now they will be made on the VAF website through Affinipay. 

    If you currently have an automatic/recurring dues payment subscription, it is through PayPal. With the switch to Affinipay, all PayPal recurring payments for VAF membership dues will be canceled as of January 1, 2021. (Note: Cancellation of recurring payments via PayPal will not cancel your membership.) To renew after December 31, 2020, you will login on the VAF website, generate an invoice for payment, and then set up a new recurring profile within Wild Apricot and Affinipay where you will enter your billing information. 

    If you choose to pay your dues by check, you will follow the usual process of generating an invoice from the VAF website to print and submit with your payment. We will manually update your account information when we receive your check.

    Instructions for paying dues via Affinipay or by check will be will be included in all membership renewal notices. Please contact us at webmaster@vafweb.org if assistance is needed with any of these processes.

  • 16 Jan 2021 10:40 AM | Christine R Henry

    Beginning January 1, 2021, VAF will offer a reduced-rate membership level at $40 per year for members who are newly employed, independently employed, underemployed, or retired. Membership benefits remain the same, with a subscription (paper and electronic, via JSTOR) to Buildings & Landscapes, direct receipt of the Vernacular Architecture Newsletter (VAN), registration discounts to the VAF annual conference and other sponsored events, and access to members-only VAF resources on the website like Field Guides from the annual conferences and the Bibliography.

    We hope this change improves your experience as VAF members during these difficult times.

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