Burton, Orville Vernon
Professor of History; Director of the Clemson Cyberinstitute
Office: Strom Thurmond Institute
Phone: (864) 656-7136
Ph.D., Princeton University (1976)
Orville Vernon Burton is Creativity Professor of Humanities, Professor of History and Computer Science at Clemson University, and the Director of the Clemson CyberInstitute. 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 (I CHASS) 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. Burton serves as vice-chair of the Board of Directors of the Congressional National Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation. In 2007 the Illinois State legislature honored him with a special resolution for his contributions as a scholar, teacher, and citizen of Illinois.
Burton is a prolific author and scholar (twenty authored or edited books and more than two hundred articles). 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.
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 from the University of Illinois. He was appointed an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer for 2004-14.
Burton's research and teaching interests include the American South, especially race relations and community, and the intersection of humanities and social sciences. 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, 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.