A- A+
VCEA 2021 program header

Project team member Randi Flaherty presented the SCOS digital archive and other UVA Law Library web projects at the 2021 annual meeting of the Virginia Consortium of Early Americanists (VCEA). Organized by the Omohundro Institute, VCEA is a community of early American history scholars based in Virginia.


Flaherty joined colleagues from the Library of Virginia and the Georgian Papers Programme to discuss “Accessing the Archives Virtually During the Pandemic.” The virtual setting for the conference allowed Flaherty to dive into the SCOS project and highlight the digital archive’s perhaps surprising relevance to early American history research. Flaherty pointed out that “Scottish Virginia” is one of the many curated themes on the project website that allow researchers entry points into the diverse collection. The Virginia cases illuminate the myriad of ways in which Scotland and Virginia were bound together in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries through matters of commerce, property, inheritance, and contracts.


Flaherty also demonstrated the site’s new search functionality, which allows full-text searching within the site’s nearly 30,000 pages of printed case documents. While testing out this new search capability recently, project team members were intrigued to find the 1815 case of the enslaved man named Burr, who had traveled from South Carolina to Scotland in 1811. Once he arrived in Edinburgh, Burr declared his freedom and refused to return to North America, thus sparking the case in the Court of Session. The newly digitized case file comes from a collection we recently added to the archive from the Library of Congress, a consortium partner.



Screen shot of search results
Using the SCOS project's new full-text search function, researchers can search OCR text on individual pages of case documents. Full-text searching enabled project members to discover this petition from the case of the enslaved man Burr, who traveled from South Carolina to Edinburgh in 1811 and then sued for his freedom.