History & Acknowledgments

Voices of Democracy (VOD) originated in conversations among the founding directors of the project: Shawn J. Parry-Giles, Robert Gaines, J. Michael Hogan, Rosa Eberly, and Martin J. Medhurst.  In the summer of 2005, the University of Maryland (UM) and the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) were awarded a $195,023 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in support of the project.  With cost-sharing from the host institutions, the NEH Teaching and Learning Resources and Curriculum Development grant provided $294,690 in start-up money for the project.

Subsequent support for VOD has been provided by the Center for Political Communication and Civic Leadership and the Department of Communication at the University of Maryland, along with the Center for Democratic Deliberation and the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences at Pennsylvania State University. A major upgrade and expansion of the VOD website was made possible, in part, by an NEH Challenge Grant awarded to the Center for Democratic Deliberation at Penn State in 2013-1016.

The VOD’s founding Advisory Board first met at the University of Maryland in the fall of 2005 to refine plans for the site and help launch the project.  That board included:

  • Robert Abzug, University of Texas
  • Patricia Bizzell, College of the Holy Cross
  • Denise M. Bostdorff, The College of Wooster
  • H.W. Brands, University of Texas
  • Michael Delli Carpini, University of Pennsylvania
  • James Darsey, Georgia State University
  • Leroy Dorsey, Texas A&M University
  • Paul Fessler, Dordt College
  • Gerard Hauser, University of Colorado
  • Lisa Hogan, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Susan Jarratt, University of California—Irvine
  • Philip Jenkins, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Cheryl Jorgensen-Earp, Lynchburg College
  • Shirley Logan, University of Maryland
  • Charles Morris III, Boston College
  • Garth Pauley, Calvin College
  • John Powers, National Archives and Records Administration
  • Eric King Watts, University of North Carolina
  • David Zarefsky, Northwestern University

The original plans for VOD were also reviewed by an External Review Board that included: Moya Ball, Trinity University; Thomas Benson, Pennsylvania State University; Celeste Condit, University of Georgia; Fred Greenstein, Princeton University; Stephen Lucas, University of Wisconsin; Bruce Miroff, SUNY—Albany; and Susan Romano, University of New Mexico.

The project directors are indebted to a number of individuals and institutions who subsequently provided material support for VOD, including a long list of graduate and undergraduate students at both PSU and Maryland.  At Maryland, support was also provided by the College of Arts and Humanities (CAH), the Office of Undergraduate Studies, and the Office of Information Technology and the Office of Research Advancement and Administration in CAH.  At Penn State, we are indebted to the College of the Liberal Arts and its Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

The VOD also acknowledges support from the National Communication Association (NCA), which in 2008 awarded VOD a $5,000 Advancing the Discipline grant.

Finally, the project directors are indebted to their mentors and teachers at Indiana University and the University of Wisconsin, who instilled in them an appreciation for the study of American public address.  Voices of Democracy is dedicated to the legacy of public address studies at these great institutions.