For immediate release | April 12, 2011

Unique online history tool “Digital Harlem” wins award from RUSA

CHICAGO—The 2011 ABC-CLIO Online History Award winning resource is "Digital Harlem: Everyday Life, 1915-1930", assembled by Associate Professor Stephen Robertson, Professor Shane White, Professor Stephen Garton and Honorary Associate Dr. Graham White, all of the University of Sydney, Australia.

The purpose of this biennial award, administered by the History Section (HS) of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), is to encourage, recognize and commend professional achievement in online historical reference and research.

In selecting this year’s winner, the committee noted the site’s novel and sophisticated approach to the presentation of primary-source ephemera. "Digital Harlem: Everyday Life, 1915-1930," unlike most online history websites, integrates historical fragments that can be combined and recombined into maps that show aspects of daily life that are otherwise easy to overlook and difficult to characterize in narrative.

“This new approach to sharing historical materials will contribute to new historical interpretations and ways of understanding the Harlem Renaissance,” said David C. Murray, chair of the award committee. “Already it is one of the most unique history sites the committee has seen. It is a fantastic teaching tool for high school and college instructors.”

“Digital Harlem” previously won the American Historical Association’s 2010 Roy Rosenzweig Prize for Innovation in Digital History and is part of a project entitled “Black Metropolis: Harlem, 1915-1930” that was awarded an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant from 2003-2007. Robertson, Shane White and Garton recently received a second Australian Research Council Discovery Grant, for a project entitled “Year of the Riot: Harlem, 1935,”which will extend Digital Harlem into the 1930s.

The creators of “Digital Harlem” bring decades of experience and interest in New York-centered African American history and an impressive list of teaching accolades and published research, including a jointly authored book, “Playing the Numbers: Gambling in Harlem between the Wars.” Stephen Robertson, associate professor,is the author of “Crimes against Children,” a study of the prosecution of sexual violence in New York City in the years 1880-1960 and has won a number of teaching awards, including a Carrick Australian Award for University Teaching Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning in 2006. Shane White, the Challis professor of American History, has published a number of prize-winning books on blacks in 18th and 19th century New York City and also is currently working on “The Making of Black Manhattan”, an ethnographic study of black culture from 1810 to 1860. Stephen Garton, professor of history and provost and deputy vice-chancellor, is the author of four books and numerous articles and chapters in such areas as the history of madness, crime, incarceration, eugenics, social policy, poverty, returned soldiers, masculinity and sexuality. In addition to being a fellow of a number of learned academies and societies he was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal in 2003 for services to history. Graham White has collaborated with Shane White on several publications, including “Stylin': African-American Expressive Culture From Its Beginnings to the Zoot Suit” and “The Sounds of Slavery: Discovering African American History through Songs, Sermons and Speech,” in addition to authoring or co-authoring several works on the New Deal. He completed his PhD at the University of Sydney in 1976.

The award, a citation and $2,500 cash prize, will be presented at the RUSA Awards Reception, scheduled for 5 - 6:30 p.m. Sunday, June 26, as a part of RUSA’s events at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans. The exact location of this event will be announced in late spring. For more information, visit RUSA’s website or the Annual Conference website.

The Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, represents librarians and library staff in the fields of reference, specialized reference, collection development, readers’ advisory and resource sharing. RUSA is the foremost organization of reference and information professionals who make the connections between people and the information sources, services, and collection materials they need. Not a member, but interested in discounted registration rates on conference, preconferences and other events? Join, renew or add RUSA to your ALA membership at Learn more about the association at